18 February 2012

Fugu (puffer fish) - the hidden Japanese cuisine

When you think of the typical Japanese cuisine, you may come up with the dishes such as sushi, tempura, sukiyaki, and teppanyaki. These are the popular menu at the Japanese restaurants in overseas as far as I know. But if you had ever lived in Japan, you could think of more and I assume 'fugu' is one of them. I have to confess that the 'fugu nabe' (the puffer fish hot-pot) is one of the dishes I missed a lot while I lived in overseas.
I call the fish in the above picture as 'fugu' since that is what we, Japanese people call. It could be translated to a globe fish, blow fish, puffer fish, bubble fish, etc. but I don't know exactly what is the appropriate word to describe the fish above. In Japanese, it is written as 'river pig' in kanji.
The 'fugu' is one of the most celebrated dishes in Japan. It is lethally poisonous and the fugu chefs have to have a special licence to cook the fugu by the law in Japan.
The 'fugu' meal course could be consisted differently depending on the restaurants but here is an example what a middle-class Japanese family could enjoy the meal.
First, you cannot miss 'tessa' in 'fugu' course menu - sashimi, raw fish, of fugu as above picture. It is sliced so thin and you could put 'kabosu', green citrus fruit, and curl 'konegi' & 'naganegi' - similar to Welsh onion - in sliced raw 'fugu' as you wish.
As an option, you could have 'fugu kara-age' - deep fried 'fugu' as the picture above. It is very yummy indeed.
The main dish, the'fugu nabe' - 'fugu hot pot', comes as above. You may not like to imagine but some of the fresh meat of 'fugu' still move on the plate.
You put the 'fugu' and other vegetables into the hot pot and cook for a while. After the fugu and vegetables are nicely cooked, you put them in 'ponze', a citrus-based sauce, and eat them.
The best of all of 'fugu nabe' for me is the 'ojiya' or 'zosui' - a rice soup as the above picture.
'Fugu' could be poisonous but it is SO yummy. Whether you take risk or not, it is the way you could enjoy the Japanese winter.

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