Fishing a Fugu

About 100 species of fish of the plectognathi order of the blowfish family, inhabiting the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as some rivers and the Mediterranean Sea, have the name of “Fugu” (other names of the family are Four-toothed puffers, Tetraodons, Pufferfish, Swellfish). It is difficult not to recognize a Fugu: its bright color, absence of scale, grayish-blue stripes on the top, a white belly with a few spikes, feeling like sandpaper, nostrils, and a small mouth with almost human teeth – broad bony plates. The Fugu uses them to separate shells from stones, and on occasion it can “open” a crab, or break a fish hook by biting or can even (the largest of the plectognathi) deprive a person of a finger – a case reported in Japan. Swellfish are extremely aggressive, including aggressiveness towards each other.

Fugu can swim tail forward, but generally move slowly. If you scare a Fugu, it would instantly swell, taking a spherical shape. And woe to the shark, which does not understand the threat – a swellfish is fatally poisonous. Its muscles and guts contain Tetrodotoxin – the poison of neuroparalytic action, which is 50 times more dangerous than Cyanide. A lethal dose for humans is only 1 milligram of tetrodotoxin, one fish contains the amount of poison, that can kill 30-40 people. Moreover, there is still no effective antidote for Fugu poison.

Only to the best chefs in Japan, specially trained and those having a special license, can be trusted to cook Fugu. Upon receipt of the license a chef takes an exam – he must not only prepare fugu in different ways, but eat what he has prepared. By the way, it is believed that in case a client got poisoned with fugu, the chef should do a hara-kiri.

Cutting the balloon-fish requires meticulous accuracy and skill. Rapid strokes separate fins and head and open the fish’s belly. Then poisonous inside is gently removed. Fish fillet is cut into thin, even paper-thin slices and carefully washed under the running water.

Dishes from Fugu are very diverse. Flesh, skin, liver, flippers, and roes are used when cooking.
Fans say that the taste of Fugu is more like that of chicken than of fish, and only a distant hint of flavor indicates that it is a sea product. Flesh does not have any fibers; it has the consistency similar to that of gelatin. And one of poetically-minded foodies remarked that the taste of Fugu fish resembles Japanese painting – it is something subtle and elusive, and besides as smooth as Japanese silk…
Fugu fish is eaten only in Japan. You need to be a devoted gourmand and a self-possessed person to be able to eat dishes cooked from Fugu fish, whose guts contain tetrodotoxin with appetite.

Despite the obvious risk Yacht Club Israel provides an opportunity of fishing a Fugu. But we do not cook this fish.
You can see more photos  of this extreme type of  Fishing in Israel in our  gallery  below.

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