Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

fugu the Japanese name for some species of blowfish which are regarded as a great delicacy in Japan. The best known are Fugu rubripes (torafugu), and F. porphyreus (mafugu or namerafugu).

Shimonoseki, in the westernmost corner of Honshu Island, is specially celebrated for its fugu dishes. There it is called fuku.
These fish have to be prepared with great skill to avoid any possibility of the fatally toxic parts being eaten or contaminating the flesh. The lethal poison is tetrotoxin and it is found in the fish’s gut and also in the liver, ovary, and skin. There are whole books devoted to the necessary technique, and only cooks who have qualified in this are allowed to deal with the fish. Even so, instances occur of Japanese dying from fugu poisoning, usually because someone without the necessary skill has attempted to prepare the fish.