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I Survived! – My Raw Fish Eating Experience

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/11 Food , , ,


It is no secret that the Japanese people are quite adventurous in eating raw food. That which I used to think was only limited to eating raw fish such as the sashimi and sushi. But later on discovered during my year long stay that they also consume raw meats like raw beef (gyu tataki), raw chicken (toriwasa), raw pork liver and even raw horse meat (basashi sashimi).

Yamaguchi Prefecture, The Fugu City

It was my first company tour (shain ryokou). I was told that we were going to Yamaguchi prefecture. And that we were going there to experience and taste a dish this prefecture is famous for, the FUGU (blowfish/puffer fish). Because of its popularity the city has even earned the moniker “Fugu City”. Being super excited and having no idea what kind of fish it was, I hurriedly opened my browser and googled the word FUGU. To my surprise this fish is no ordinary fish, it was notoriously known to contain lethal poison. My excitement sudden turned to worry. Was it really safe to eat this fish – eat it RAW?! And has anyone died due to eating this fish?

Is Fugu poisonous?

Days before the trip, I researched just anything there is about this fish and more importantly about this notorious delicacy. According to my research, the poison in this fish is called tetrodotoxin which they say is even deadlier than cyanide. The poison is contained in its skin, liver, intestines and ovaries. And that chefs must undergo rigorous training which would take about two to three years before they can acquire a license to prepare dishes made out of fugu. And that this trainings are part of the reason why fugu dishes are very expensive. So has anyone died from eating this dish? Sadly according to my research there have been incidents of fugu poisoning. But even if these dishes are both expensive and possibly deadly, it has not stopped Japanese people from enjoying this delicacy. Japan has even placed regulations in protecting fugu populations due to its high demand.

My Fugu Experience

Finally the day of the tour came, it was a long bus ride from Okayama to Yamaguchi. When we got there, the city really lived up to its nickname. Every corner of the city, you will see images of this fish. When we got to the nice restaurant where we would have a taste of this delicacy, I sat at our table and wondered was it really going to be ok to eat this fish? Few minutes later, a plate with thinly (almost transparent) sliced fugu meat arranged in an intricate pattern resembling a flower was served to us. Looking at it my first impression was – it looks good but does it taste as good as it looks? To calm my apprehension, I looked around and observed my Japanese colleagues enjoying the dish. When I felt that it was ok to consume it, I took a slice from the plate dipped it in soy sauce and eat. How did it taste? The fish is light to the taste, and very soft maybe because it was so thinly sliced. Was it delicious? For a foreigner like me and not that adventurous with food, it was ok. Do I recommend that you try it? My answer would be a BIG YES! It is nice to conquer your fears and to live and experience more in this world. I am happy I did and relieved to have survived to tell the story.

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