national

Tokyo to relax rules on poisonous puffer fish

45 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2012 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

45 Comments
Login to comment

Some aficionados ask to be served the banned parts—the liver and the skin—which are said to be a fine but dangerous delicacy

Time to crack open the Darwin awards.

2 ( +5 / -4 )

Why is this even a food in Japan?????

a hundred years ago, the first person who cut fugu and ate it got poisoned and died.... yet his buddies who watched him still wanted to eat it, so they cut it up and then died... then their buddies, who wanted to eat it, cut it up then died. This goes on and on until somehow somewhere they find a way to cut it properly without the poison all over it. I don't get it...

-8 ( +3 / -10 )

why? fugu invites 'meifuku' is a known fact.

-3 ( +2 / -4 )

a hundred years ago, the first person who cut fugu and ate it got poisoned and died

Its hard enough to get to the truth even without people like you posting completely false information for the fun of it. I move that your post be axed for its sheer unhelpfulness. There is some evidence that it was possibly eaten as far back as the Jomon period. Its certain it was eaten in the Tokugawa period and probably before.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@some14some: nice wordplay!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Of all the fish & seafood we can choose from here in Japan, fugu is hardly a standout (in my humble opinion). Are diners looking forward consuming it in a chain izakaya prepared by some pimply-faced kid working a part-time job? Bon Apetit! Even raw beef has asinine restrictions on its preparation now - why the need to reduce the population this way?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

making the occasional diner very sick

Stringent regulations and the industry's efforts have made deaths by eating fugu meat extremely rare, but a handful of fishermen who eat their own catch are reported dead every year.

If it only makes the 'occasional' diner sick, why the stringent regulations? Oh, it's because you can die. It's not just fishermen who slice and dice their own fugu who are in deep fugu.

But time to de-regulate and let the chips fall where they may.

0 ( +1 / -0 )

<3 fugu

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Looking forward to the headlines!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Great plan. I'm sure nothing will go wrong.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I tired Fugu once during a farewell dinner for a senior professor. I could not really say no. It was at an incredibly expensive place and served in several ways. In all honesty it tasted like nothing at all. I can easily think of a dozen varieties of fish that have more interesting and pleasant flavors. So I found myself wondering why would people put life and limb at risk for something so bland. I suppose it has more to do witih tradition and prestige than flavor.

That said, I will never have Fugu again. Life has enough risk without senselessly inviting more.

4 ( +6 / -1 )

But an amendment being debated by the local legislature would allow eateries to sell fish that have been prepared off-site

How would the customer know either way? I don't eat fugu at all....kinda liken it to playing russian roulette. But just wondering........if a group of people ordered fugu do they rock scissors paper to find the sod who is gonna dive in and test if it's OK???? (said with sarcasm)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've tried fugu several times and don't know what people see in it. Must be the thrill of coming close(?) to being poisoned. The fish has no real flavor.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Let them eat it, as long as it is properly labelled.

I don´t understand the "delicacy" aspect anyway. I tried fugu and found it mushy and tasteless. Definitely not worth the price.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Great! Now we can eat local fugu and we won't know if the tingle is poison from the fish or strontium.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Great... until someone dies

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Fugu Fish of the world would like to thank the Tokyo metropolitan government for allowing Darwinian selection a sporting chance.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I agree with all the posters... fugu has no taste at all... I think the Japanese like it because of the fact you might die when you eat it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Fugu has a light, subtle taste, but no one eats fugu by itself. As sashimi you would eat it with ponzu. People enjoy the texture of it as much as or more than the taste.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@mrkobayashi: The texture? I don't know about you but I eat my food for the taste and not how it feels in my mouth.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Reading all these comments by foreigners who seem to imply that their own culture would never tolerate such silliness...Ironic I think the Japanese must think the same thing when they read about diners serving triple bypass burgers in the states or hearing about what is in poutine in Quebec... every delicacy has its inherent risk... Living down near Yamaguchi Prefecture I eat fugu all the time like many things Japanese value in their palette it has an unusual texture for the average westerner and a very subtle taste that some may write off as bland... not for everyone, maybe not worth the price in Tokyo but around here it really isn't that expensive.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

There are 22 species of fugu, I don't want to take any risks. I prefer salmon.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Great. With my luck the chef will be getting it on with Edna Krabappel in the back and tell his apprentice to cut up the fugu for me. "Poison fish. Poison fish. Poison fish. Ah, tasty fish!"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

mrkobayashi, you are absolutely right. The Japanese love fugu for their "Shok-kan". I tried these in Shimonoseki where it is best, and it was very good.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Making fugu more available will mean a higher death rate among those who can afford the fish. Which means those, who have enough money. Which means mostly elderly and wealthy people. Which means lots of inheritance tax for the state. This is obviously a good thing.

Furthermore, it is a nice and clean way of suicide without train delays, nasty bloody messes and expensive cleanups. More fugu to Japan!

Honestly, since you don't get fugu if you don't want it why bother at all? Everyone knows it's dangerous. The same holds for smoking, even though fugu might kill you quicker.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have eaten it a lot, and it is not that expensive if you know someone. I found the best part was to take a fin, and heat it in hot sake. The rest of the fish is bland. The skin is chewy. Never saw the liver or other internal organs.

I remember when I was a kid in NY City down at the docks, and people would catch them, pop them, gut them and cook them right there. I recall better taste back then, but maybe cause they were cooked in olive oil by the Italians.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Makes me wonder, these days which is more poisonous, Fugu or rad contaminated fish?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

great way to reduce suicide statistics

1 ( +1 / -0 )

a specially-trained and licensed chef

They get a week or less of training in average, then they take the test (99% pass). There are millions of cooks in Japan that have the license. A restaurant that can't afford having one cook trained a week... maybe they should stick to serve toasts, eggs and salad teishoku.

among those who can afford the fish.

95% of people can afford 500 yen of fugu once in a while. You pay more for better quality, but the high end shops are probably not the ones asking to operate without trained cooks.

I remember when I was a kid in NY City down at the docks, and people would catch them,

You mean they would drive all the way to Florida to catch the only fugus nearby US coasts ?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Cooked fugu isnt an issue, as for the raw stuff I have avoided it for 2decades running & will DEFINITELY continue, but I may buy for a few others to try LOL!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not all Fugu is poisonous.

The one caught of the USA coast is 100% harmless as they don't have access to a certain algae/food that turns them poisonous. Ditto for PIranha most of the species are harmless like the red Piranha that lives in the Ocean.

Doing a bit of research debunks 90-95% of the myth of which fish is deadly and which is not.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Cos

They get a week or less of training in average, then they take the test (99% pass).

Where did you get that from? Give us a source. Until you do, I'll believe this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugu#Regulations

@GW

Cooked fugu isnt an issue

Really? Also from the Wikipedia article, under 'Poison': "Tetrodotoxin is not affected by cooking." And there's a reference to a paper published by the HK Centre for Food Safety.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wonder which Tokyo government official recently bought a Fugu processing business?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Every child likes to play with fire. They are afraid, but then they get a sense of power at the seeming ability to control a dangerous thing. Then the house catches on fire....

Darwin is in the house.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Weird unintended metaphor.... They were really two separate statements.

Darwin (the concept of natural selection) and a child in a burning house.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@all the posters claiming to have eaten fugu and commented on the taste and poisons:

The fish itself is not poisonous, it's the liver that contains the poisonous part. Most of the restaurants selling fugu as part of the cuisine are not licensed to serve the liver, but may have license to prepare the fish itself.

From what I understand from the article, the laws regarding the preparation and sale of fugu fish (nothing is mentioned about the liver) may become a bit more lax, as the fish can be prepared by licensed fish cutters then delivered.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@WillieB

Let them eat it, as long as it is properly labelled.

Anyone here ever heard about mislabelling of food in Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Cos One week? Maybe if it's some kind of super-intense 16 hour day course! My husband is licensed in Tokyo and Kanagawa, and it took him months of study, practice at home using a special fugu-only cooking board and non-edible fugu from Tsukiji bought at a discount (cross-contamination can kill you too), with some practice classes/test runs before he learned how to successfully take out ALL of the poisonous parts, leaving ALL of the edible parts, without cross-contaminating, in under 20 minutes. I'm gonna check out that wiki article for good measure, but it is not something that can be done in a week.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Awatemono, good show! My comments comparing the fugu issue to other recent dangerous food issues was removed. I wonder why basashi is relevant (and I think it is) and yukhoe and caesium-laden Japanese food aren't relevant.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess it's because they want to import forien Fugu processed cheaply overseas.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Don't relax too much, or your breathing stops.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The tenno is the only person in Japan not allowed to eat fugu. Its hard to figure out if he occupies the highest position in Japan, or the lowest!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Where did you get that from? Give us a source.

I've worked in schools training the cooks. They study 2 years because chefs study 2 years with or without fugu. Plus one week for the fugu test.

http://www.pref.osaka.jp/shokuhin/hugu/jorei.html#touroku

Maybe if it's some kind of super-intense 16 hour day course! My husband is licensed in Tokyo and Kanagawa, and it took him months of study, practice

That doesn't take one week to become a cook. Probably because your husband started at beginner/lower level at fish cutting. In all the senmon gakko where I've worked all the students passed the test. They longly train on other types of fish, of course. Then they get the fugus in the test prep' class.

leaving ALL of the edible parts, without cross-contaminating, in under 20 minutes.

They learn to do that for salmon too, to prevent parasitis from the offals to get through the flesh. Bottom line : I'm sure restaurants can easily find cooks with the license, or they can find cooks that can be trained and licensed quickly. But some shops (kaiten-zushi chains...) prefer hiring only 700 yen/hour baitos. They did some lobby and they got it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Are diners looking forward consuming it in a chain izakaya prepared by some pimply-faced kid working a part-time job? Bon Apetit!

But that's not what the article says. It says that it will allow restaurants to buy fugu prepared off-site by a licensed fugu chef, not that any person will now be allowed to prepare fugu.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I find in japan the look and fame of ingedients often trumps the overall taste. Also, in japan people tend to prefer simple basic flavor over seasoning. I always get strange looks when i mix up my don buri to envelope the rice with the toppings where as most of my japanese friends eat it in separate layers finishing with just plain rice.

As for fugu, i was turned off by the price first. Same reason i dont by honey dew melon in JP. I just dont see the reason to pay so much money for food not too mention gamble my life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites