Eating Fugu: Japan’s Poisonous Pufferfish

By The byFood Team
Updated: April 6, 2022

Recently, byFood teamed up with Sonny from the Best Ever Food Review Show, to show you the most incredible food experiences in Tokyo. This time, Sonny tackles the poisonous fugu pufferfish! In the video, he eats fugu prepared in three different ways: classic fugu sashimi, fried fugu, and fugu hotpot. 

Eating Fugu: Japan’s Poisonous Pufferfish

In addition, the adventurous eater also tries fermented squid stomach and sea pineapple or “hoya,” alongside Japan’s national drink, sake. But it's no ordinary sake. Sonny tries hirezake, a type of hot sake in which a charred fugu fin is steeped for flavor, quite a smoky and theatrical beverage.

So how poisonous is fugu, really?

Actually, fugu is very deadly, containing tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that is found in some marine life, in extremely high amounts. The poisonous parts of the fugu pufferfish are the organs, such as the liver, eyes, skin, and ovaries. This makes female fugu particularly dangerous, as their ovaries are more poisonous than male testes.

Symptoms of fugu poisoning include tingling and numbness of the tongue and mouth, then halting of motor functions and paralysis of respiratory muscles, and finally death. There is no antidote to tetrodotoxin. Thankfully, fatalities from eating fugu in Japan are rare, due to the strict regulation of preparation and sale of pufferfish.

As Sonny says in the video, the few reported deaths have been the inexperienced fisherman who tried to prepare the fish themselves.

Experienced chefs have a thorough knowledge of fugu anatomy and undergo rigorous training to receive a license to serve pufferfish, so it's safe to say that you'll be in good hands if you ever decide to try fugu in Japan!

Follow Sonny as he tastes Japanese wagyu, the formerly forbidden meat, or watch as Shizuka is challenged to sculpt a bunny out of sugar!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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The byFood Team
Sharing our love of Japanese cuisine and culture, with the mission of spreading happiness through food.
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