There is always some trepidation with consuming sushi because of the raw fish involved. For true sushi thrill seekers, there is the ever-infamous fugu, or raw flesh of the puffer fish. You will never be served fugu unless you request it, and only if there is a licensed fugu chef in house to prepare it. To ease your mind and allow yourself to explore something out of your comfort zone, here are the facts surrounding sushi and this dangerous but tasty tidbit.
Less Danger but More Control
Restaurants who serve sushi are heavily controlled by the FDA to make sure customers' health is the number one priority. The very strict regulations involved mean that raw fish cannot be served past a single day out of the freezer and every sushi bite you consume has to be one hundred percent fresh after the seven-day freezing period to kill any parasites. More people become ill from raw chicken, beef or pork every year than they do consuming sushi because of the very tight and highly enforced laws surrounding the popular Japanese cuisine.
Restaurants serving fugu have even tighter restrictions because of the deadly neurotoxin found in this fish's flesh. Incorrect preparation means instant death, with a hefty lawsuit and government investigation to follow. It is for this reason that many sushi restaurants do not serve fugu, and those that do have to follow government regulations to the letter.
What to Look for When You Want Fugu
You are either crazy or extremely brave if you are hunting down a fugu chef. Fugu chefs command very high salaries because they deal with a potentially deadly food and spend months learning how to carefully cut and prepare puffer fish for human consumption. Ask to see the fugu chef's license before you order this dish[,] as he or she should not be preparing or serving fugu without it. If the chef cannot show you his or her fugu license, do not order the dish (unless you have a death wish)! Find another sushi restaurant and fugu chef who is licensed if you are bent on trying it.
The Actual Fugu Experience
Properly cut and prepared, the fugu will have a light but salty flavor with very tender flesh. The little bit of neurotoxin left in the fish or used in preparing the dish will first make your lips, mouth and tongue tingly and numb, like novocaine. After you have consumed the fugu, your entire body will feel tingly and slightly numb, as though you are buzzed on alcohol. Do not participate in sports or other activities after you have consumed fugu, because you will not feel any pain from injuries sustained during the activities. The effect wears off after a few hours, a little longer if you ate the fugu on an already full stomach.
For more information about exciting Japanese dishes, contact a restaurant like DaRuMa Japanese SteakHouse and Sushi Lounge.