Saturday, 26 February 2011

Dicing with the Deadly Fugu

As Jules and I wander the streets of Osaka we inevitably find ourselves in one of the numerous restaurant areas…there are just so many! Of course, there are plenty of different forms of food to choose from, but the one that has me particularly fascinated are the places that specialise in serving the deadly Fugu fish. They are quite easy to find, as they often have a tank in the window with these ugly, but highly appreciated fish swimming around or a large model of one hanging above the door. Now, the first time I heard of this type of marine creature was when I used to go fishing with my dad many years ago and we would occasionally catch the Australian equivalent, called a Toadfish or ‘Toady’ as we used to call them. When you caught one they would puff up to about three times their size looking very unappetising. Even more significant was the fact that they are highly poisonous and so we were always happy to just throw them back. Our wariness was further fuelled by various urban myths regarding whole families who had been wiped out after catching and eating the deadly fish. Well, it seems that Japanese Fugu (puffer fish) is a somewhat bigger cousin…uglier and even more poisonous that it’s Australian counterpart, but for some strange reason it’s meat is highly sought in Japan. It is so revered that people will risk their lives to eat raw slices in government-licenced premises. In order to obtain permission to serve the fish, the chef must go through a rigorous training program in order to learn how to remove all traces of poison from the flesh, which is traditionally served sashimi style. It is one of the most expensive fish in the world and it’s flavour is said to be very delicate. At this stage Jules and I have not been tempted to try it, but some of my teaching colleagues have indulged and live to tell the tale. Their advice to me was simple…just get your affairs in order before you enter the restaurant! I’m not sure whether I am quite ready yet , but I must admit I have a sneaking admiration for those who are brave enough to dice with the Fugu fish.

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