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All About Fugu - Pufferfish

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Fugu (Pufferfish) - Scientific name: Tetraodon

Japanese Pufferfish - Scientific name: Takifugu rubripes

Fugu is the Japanese word for Tetraodon, aka blowfish, pufferfish, globefish, and swellfish. Its name comes from the shape it becomes when threatenedFugu is the Japanese word for Tetraodon, aka blowfish, pufferfish, globefish, and swellfish. Its name comes from the shape it becomes when threatened.

Environment - demersal; non-migratory; freshwater; brackish; marine. Adults are found in inlet waters, occasionally entering brackish waters. Fingerlings are often seen in brackish river mouths.

Body covered with prickles; presence of a large round black blotch edged with a white line on side just behind pectoral fin.

fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; price category: very high; price reliability: very questionable: based on ex-vessel price for species in this family.

Liver and ovaries extremely toxic, intestines slightly toxic; flesh, skin and testes not poisonous. Juveniles resemble Takifugu niphobles. A prized food fish in Japan. Said to be commercially cultured in Japan at present. Used in Chinese medicine.

Considerable delicacy in Japan (a taste adopted by some non-Japanese Foodies), they come with a side of risk: some puffer fish have the potent lethal toxins tetrodotoxin and/or saxitoxin, neurotoxins more than 1000 times the lethal potency of cyanide: Symptoms start within 20 minutes to 2 hours after eating the toxic fish. Initial symptoms include tingling of the lips and mouth, followed by dizziness, tingling in the extremities, problems with speaking, balance, muscle weakness and paralysis, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe intoxications, death can result from respiratory paralysis.

How to eat Fugu (Safely):

Fresh Fugu Pufferfish for sale. Fugu on iceIn Japan, the meat of the fugu is considered a delicacy, as it is quite difficult to prepare properly. Only certified chefs may handle fugu, as preparing it incorrectly can be fatal to the consumer. The chef must be able to remove the internal organs and the eyes cleanly, as these parts contain a lethal poison.

Fugu meat is prized for its texture, while its flavour is quite refined. When sliced thinly, it can be eaten raw (sashimi). In fact, it is sliced so thinly that it is almost transparent. Dip each slice of fugu into ponzu sauce.


Another popular way to enjoy Fugu is to dip the slices into a lightly flavoured broth of dashi. Once they are cooked, dip into ponzu sauce for saltiness and additional flavour.

Finally, the fins of the fugu can also be eaten. The fins are typically salted and grilled, offering a pleasant crunchiness. Enjoy it as an appetizer with a cold glass of beer. When the fins remain unsalted when grilled, a small piece can be placed in a cup of hot sake for a cold day.



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