Monday, December 19, 2011

The deadliest of food, the Blow fish...?

There are many myths about Japan that for some reason keep surviving even though they were either wrong to begin with, or true at some point until current times caught up.

Apparently this is actually the mascot of the Yamaguchi prefecture PD...
One of the myths that I actually find somewhat amusing (as opposed to annoying) is the belief that eating the Japanese "Fugu" blow fish is associated with a relative high degree of risk. Ok, the basic concept of it is not completely wrong as the fish is poisonous and eating it raw with some amateur fisherman preparing it, then serving it could result in a quick trip to the hospital and possibly fatal outcome. As far as I know, there also is special licenses that you need to take to be allowed to prepare and serve the fish in a restaurant. So to be fair, the myth that it's dangerous is very much grounded in reality.

However, practically speaking, eating raw Fugu in a restaurant in Tokyo probably carries significantly less risk than eating at any fast food chain. I haven't counted, but I would guess that there are several hundred restaurants in the Tokyo area serving the fish to thousands of guests on a daily basis with no incidents. I've eaten it many times, but what I find most puzzling is that so many Japanese seem to think that it's a delicacy... Ok, it doesn't taste bad, it's just kinda bland (particularly raw without any seasoning). So, unfortunately, if you plan to visit Japan and had planned to "gamble with death" with eating Fugu, I have to dissapoint with the fact that you are probably taking higher risks each time you cross a street.

But ok, you want to come to Japan and you want to have something dangerous to eat? I can help you with that! A while ago one of the big thing in the news was a couple of fatal cases of food poisoning from people eating the raw beef dish "Yukke" at a Korean BBQ/Yakiniku place and more reports coming in from all over the country of suspected cases of food poisoning from said dish. If you want to have the highest possible chance of dying from eating this dish, I would recommend you to seek out the cheapest crummiest looking Yakiniku places you can find. To ensure the worst possible raw material, I would recommend one of those "eat as much as you can for almost nothing" places.

As proper regulations for preparing Yukke now has gotten much much stricter, it seems like many places go around this by making a similar dish but just calling it another name, thus dodging the regulations and still giving you a fair shot at a glorious death from food poisoning. Best of luck! 

12 comments:

blukats said...

That's amusing thinking of things in Japan that might be more deadly than eating fugu. I think I will stick with my flying over the North East Coast the afternoon of 3/11 after the quake and then hanging around for over a week in Tokyo as my most risky act ever in Japan.

Yup, I agree, fugu is nothing now. =)

Japan Australia said...

You are taking your life into someone else hands with fugu. Apparently quite a few people are killed every year. These are usually the case of an amateur chef preparing the fugu. Fugu correctly prepared by a master chef is safe and quite tasty.

Japan Australia

blukats said...

According to statistics actually very few people die from fugu poisoning. Only took a quick Google search to find that. Turns out from 1996 to 2006 there were zero to six deaths a year in Japan. And the majority of poisonings (these include people who don't die) are to fishermen who catch the fish.

Just had to check the facts. Useful stuff.

Michelle said...

"and more reports coming in from all over the country of suspected cases of food poisoning from said dish"
I'm relieved the press does this chase after some supposed evil in other countries, too. Always thought only around here people can be so shite, but they're everywhere! :-D Cheers me up ironically.

Momotaro said...

I always thought that yukke stuff was dodgy and that was confirmed when a few people died a while ago as you mentioned. I actually ate it a couple of times, thinking it would come to haunt me later, but I managed to get away with it.

The dodgiest thing I ever saw was very, very, very thin slices of raw chicken wrapped around some vegetables etc. I sucked it up and ate some, half-expecting to end up in hospital, but I somehow survived that too.

aimlesswanderer said...

While there I ate a little raw chicken. My doctor cousin was there and she said she wouldn't normally recommend it, but since it was Japan, and only once, it should be ok. We all survived just fine, but it wasn't exactly tasty.

Also ate a bit of raw horse, which was tough and rather tasteless.

Will said...

I believe that, once upon a time in Japan, anything edible was once considered a delicacy. I may be wrong about that. Maybe.

kamo said...

Will - No, that sounds about right. Obviously now things have changed, and it's only anything edible *from the sea* which is considered a delicacy - urchins, seaweed, tyres of bikes dumped in Tokyo Bay, the list goes on...

Chris said...

It's way over priced and tastes like rubber bands ( I munched on those at school). Seriously low to non tasting.

I could and would buy a fat Kobe or Miyazaki slab of steak instead.

angrygaijin said...

I tried fugu once or twice and yeah, it was pretty bland. I didn't understand why everybody was so excited to eat it.

The first time I tried it the particular dish had these huge jagged bones... that was more dangerous to me than anything else!! ._.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Blukats - Yep, eating Fugu is probably one of the least dangerous things you can do these days...

Japan Australia - What Blukats said ;)

Michelle - Yeah, but seriously, you'd think that people would know that eating raw beef carries with it a certain risk even in the best of cases, but everyone seemed surprised...

Momotaro - Yeah, I generally think it's safe, but I'm not too hot on completely raw beef in any case. I've had the same raw chicked experience and got away with it too, but also feared getting some nasty thing...

Aimless - Yep, never figured out the raw horse thing either, some people seem to really love it though...

Will - I think that to most Japanese everything organic is edible?

Kamo - Please let me know how that tire was, I might try it if you recommend it?

Chris - Hear hear! I agree completely, now, that Kobe beef, that's the good stuff!

Angry - Yep, it's bland boring and not a very exciting dish at all...

drich said...

I've had raw chicken at the yakitori place in the mall under the Shinjuku Hilton and lived to tell about it. Most of the time I figure trying to order from the machine at C&C or Pepper Lunch (when I speak/read very little Japanese) is risky enough!

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