Fish and other aquatic creatures

Japan! Dinner from poisonous puffer fish!


The fugu is a small fish the size of just a palm that can swim its tail forward. Instead of scales she has thin elastic skin. If you scare the fugu, it will instantly swell and take the shape of a ball spiked with sharp spikes. In this state, it is three times its original size. This happens due to the water, which the fish dramatically sucks in itself. The deadly poison - tetrodotoxin - is found in milt, eggs, on the genitals, skin, and in the fugu liver. This substance has a neuroparalytic effect. It is about 1200 times more dangerous than potassium cyanide. The lethal dose for humans is only one milligram of tetrodotoxin. In one fish, this substance is enough to kill forty people. Moreover, an effective antidote still does not exist. In microscopic portions, fugu poison is used as a means of preventing age-related diseases and as a cure for diseases of the prostate gland. Here is one of the ancient recipes for the preparation of a healing drink on the basis of a puffer - the poisonous fins of the fish are first roasted until charred, and then dipped in sake for two minutes. They say that intoxication from such an infusion is very specific and resembles a narcotic dope with accompanying hallucinations and exacerbation of all the senses. By the way, the sake prepared in this way is obligatory served to customers who want to try fugu. It is believed that this ritual gives a small, but still a chance to survive in case of poisoning.

Dinner in the name of death

The owner of the restaurant, which claims to have puffy dishes on its menu, is obliged to provide detailed reports to the health inspectors of the Ministry of Health on the number and storage conditions for the stocks of this fish in their establishment. Pulling the pufferfish is a unique art, which is long studied, and the units possess it. Back in 1598, a law appeared that obligated a chef who wants to cook this fish to receive a state license. In order to enter the circle of the elect, it is necessary to pass two exams - written and practical. Approximately three-quarters of the applicants are eliminated on the first test, for the passage of which it is necessary to understand dozens of puffer varieties and know all the methods of detoxification. And during the final exam the applicant must eat what he himself has prepared.

It is not surprising that prices for such delicacies range from $ 100 to $ 500 per serving. One of the most famous dishes from fuguy is fugusashi. Pearlescent raw fish slices are stacked with petals on a round dish. Often, the chef creates a real picture of the pieces: landscapes with butterflies or a flying bird. Fish are eaten by dipping slices into a mixture of ponzu (vinegar sauce), asatsuki (minced chives), momiji-oroshi (grated daikon radish), and red pepper. As a rule, customers who come to special restaurants order only puffer. The meal begins with fugushi, followed by fugu-zosui - soup from the puffyfish broth in the ornament of rice and raw eggs, as well as lightly fried slices of the same fish. Fugu pieces are served by the cook in a strictly defined order. They start from the back, the most delicious and the least poisonous, and then approach the peritoneum, the site of the main accumulation of poison. The duty of the cook is to keep a watchful eye on the condition of the guests, not allowing them to eat more of the safe dose. To do this, it is necessary not only to know the subtleties of the preparation of this dish, but also to have medical knowledge, since the intensity of exposure to poison depends on the build, temperament, and even the skin color of the client.

The most famous death from fugu occurred in 1975. The legendary actor of the kabuki theater Mitsugoro Bando Eighth, who was called a “living national treasure”, died of paralysis after eating a puffer liver in a Kyoto restaurant. This was his fourth attempt to taste a dangerous dish.

Who needs it?

The most important mystery of fuguu - for which people take a deadly risk. Fans of extreme cuisine claim that the taste of the pufferfish resembles Japanese silk paintings - something subtle, elusive and smooth. Kitaoji Rosannin, the creator of exquisite pottery, wrote: “The taste of this fish cannot be compared with anything. If you eat fugu three or four times - you will become a slave of fugu. Anyone who refuses this dish for fear of dying deserves deep sympathy. ” In addition to the incredible taste sensations, puffer is thought to have a narcotic effect. Aerobatics during the preparation of the pufferfish is to leave only as much poison as is necessary in order to cause a feeling of mild euphoria in eaters. Gourmets who have tried this fish claim that as the food is consumed, a paralyzing wave rolls in: first, the legs are taken away, then the arms, then the jaws. The ability to move retain only the eyes. However, after a moment, everything comes to life: speechlessness returns, arms and legs begin to move. There is a third reason for this, why the Japanese love fugu so much. It's all about the special treatment of death. Another samurai believed: the departure from life - this is the apotheosis of beauty. Fugu allows you to touch the Japanese understanding of perfection and, under successful circumstances, to return back. Not so long ago, extremely proud scientists announced that they had brought out a non-poisonous puffer.

It turns out that the secret was in the natural diet of fish. Fugu does not produce toxic substances in its own body - it becomes toxic by eating poisonous sea stars and mollusks. If you put a fishfish on a diet from birth, you will get a completely safe resident of the deep sea. However, the expected sensation did not happen. Indeed, without its toxin, the puffer fish becomes just another sort of fish - quite tasty, but not anything special. No wonder that in spring, when the fugu is considered the most poisonous, gourmets pay the highest price.

Cooking and drinking

Fugu - a traditional dish of Japanese cuisine. Most often for the preparation of fugu used fish species of brown toby (Takifugu rubripes). In any case, the fish from which the dish is prepared contains a lethal dose of tetrodotoxin, the concentration of which must be reduced to an acceptable level during the preparation process. Fugu is considered a delicacy, it is used in order to "tickle your nerves."

Eating improperly cooked fugu can be life threatening. Therefore, in order to prepare fugu in special restaurants, since 1958, Japanese cooks have to undergo special training and receive a license.

For a long time in Japan it was forbidden to eat fugu, and even there was a ban on fishing for puffer fish. Similar bans are currently in force in some countries of Southeast Asia, however, they are not always effective. So, despite the ban on puffer fish in Thailand since 2002, it can still be purchased in local markets.


Fugu fish contains a lethal dose of tetrodotoxin in the internal organs, mainly in the liver and eggs, gall bladder and skin. Liver and caviar of puffer fish cannot be eaten at all, the rest of the body - after careful special processing. The poison is reversible (metabolizable) blocks the sodium channels of the membranes of nerve cells, paralyzes the muscles and causes respiratory failure. Currently, there is no antidote, the only way to save a poisoned person is to artificially maintain the work of the respiratory and circulatory systems until the effect of the poison ends. Despite the licensing of the work of cooks who cook fugu, every year a number of people who have eaten an incorrectly cooked dish die from poisoning.

From 2004 to 2007, 15 people died after having been poisoned by fugu, and about 115 people were hospitalized.

In 2009, seven visitors to a restaurant in the Japanese city of Tsuruoki (north of Tokyo) were poisoned with a fugu dish.

Currently, there is an opportunity to massively grow puffer fish that does not contain poison. Studies have shown that fugu fish are not able to produce neurotoxin, but only accumulate it in their bodies. Initially, tetrodotoxin is produced by marine bacteria, which are then eaten by a variety of living organisms. The puffer fish becomes toxic with food, special mechanisms involving protein carriers capture tetrodotoxin in the fish liver and transport it to the skin and other organs with the bloodstream. It is worth noting that, in contrast to the freshwater poisonous representatives of the puffer, in which the maximum concentration of neurotoxin is observed in the skin, fugu tetrodotoxin accumulates mainly in the ovaries and liver. With artificial breeding, the accumulation of poison can be avoided simply by changing the feeding regime. However, there are commercial considerations against this (cook-ases do not want to lose a well-paying job), objections from traditional tradition admirers (who don’t want a fish to lose a romantic risk aureole), and even objections from consumers who love the sense of danger.

Excellent article about fugu fish with instructions on how to keep this fish in an aquarium:

In 1958, the issue was finally settled. The compromise solution assumes that the chef has a separate license for the preparation of puffer fish. Now, to obtain this permission, it is necessary to study at special courses and pass an exam for several years. The latter includes a theoretical and practical part: the cook identifies, cooks and eats fugu himself. Only a third of applicants pass the test. The rest of the students, of course, do not remain breathless in the examination room. Just the commission is very, very strict and does not miss a hint of a mistake. Thanks to such precautions in Japanese restaurants, you can order puffer with virtually no risk.

The representatives of the igloo family are prepared as follows:

Wash the fish and make a cut around the mouth. Remove the eyes and cut off the spine in one sharp motion and place them in a separate tray. Gut it in such a way that the poison from the internal organs does not get on the meat. All organs removed are also stored in a separate tray. Then you need to turn the puffer on the belly and make an incision on the head in order to extract the brain. The remaining meat is filleted and can be cooked.

Hiredzake - sake tincture on fugu fish fins.

Snack to fugi hirejakse.

Fugu jelly and puffer skin with vegetables.

Sashimi from fugu. The meat is a bit harsh, the slices are very thin, the taste is interesting.

Slices of fugu and sweet potatoes, fried in oil. Fried fugu is a bit like a chicken.

Water in special paper. We will cook fugu, mushrooms, vegetables.

Fugu meat, vegetables and mushrooms.

Fugu and mushrooms in boiling water. By readiness we take out fish and eat, dipping into the sauce.

Cooking main course "dzosuy" or otherwise "okay" in broth.

Dzosui is a soup made from various ingredients, and Oku is a liquid rice porridge.

Choosing fish and other ingredients from the broth. We put rice in broth.

The seasonings are very simple - egg, salt and sauce.

For dessert - ice cream in pancakes.

Eating fugu is one of the attractions of Japan!

The main thing - if during the dinner you felt a lot of fun, then you caught some poison)))

And they say, who poisoned fugu - die happily.

Fugu fish: history

The bones of this fish were found in the burial mounds from a period of 10,000 years BC. Fugu was mentioned in the first historical records of Japan, written in 720. In the late 1500s, fish were banned after a massive poisoning of troops occurred before the invasion of Korea. The ban lasted for 200 years, until the first Prime Minister of Japan, Hirobumu Ito, tried the fugu meat. He was so delighted that he demanded that the ban be lifted.

The settlement of Shimonoseki at the southern tip of Honshu is especially well known. About 500 fugu cooks live here, a bronze puffer monument is built in front of the fish market. This fish is depicted even on the manhole covers of the city. Every February, people pray for a good fugu catch in front of a particular shrine, and send fish to the Emperor as a gift. The Japanese Emperor is forbidden even to touch this poisonous fish.

Fugu fish poison

Fugu fish poison - this is tetrodotoxin. A neurotoxin that blocks electrical impulses in the nerves, destroying the flow of sodium ions into nerve cells. Tetrodotoxin is approximately 500 - 1,000 times stronger than potassium cyanide. One gram of fugu poison is enough to kill 500 people and there is no known antidote. In Japan, this poison is called teppo (“gun”). This is derived from the expression teppo ni ataru (“to be shot”). The word ataru also means to suffer from food poisoning.

The poison causes dizziness, insensibility of the mouth and lips, weakness, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, trouble breathing, cramps, blue lips, intense itching, and vomiting. The victims, who ate a lot of fugu, literally turn into zombies when they understand what is happening, but they cannot even move. Some fugu are poisonous and some are not, but even experts cannot explain why. Some scientists believe that fugu is not naturally toxic. They claim that puffer fish receives poison from eating bacteria contained in creatures such as the starfish, worms, and other mollusks. Many disagree with them, arguing that fugu produces poison by the glands under the skin.

Scientists in Nagasaki brought out a non-poisonous puffer, fattening fish with mackerel and other non-poisonous food. Fans appreciated her taste and said that it is also pleasant, like a fugu with poisonous organs. Many restaurants immediately began to have a keen interest in the liver of a non-poisonous fugu, because this part of the fish is usually prohibited. But many have reasonably stated that “Non-toxic fugu is boring. This fish is attractive because of its toxicity. ”

If you like dangerous fish, then read more about piranha.

Fugu death

About 20 people in Japan suffer from fugu meat poisoning every year, and some of them die. Fourteen people died from poison between 2002 and 2006. At the beginning of 2009, six men in northern Japan were poisoned by eating the pufferfish, which had been cooked by an unlicensed cook. In the 1950s, 400 people died and 31,056 were poisoned in just one single year. Most of the poisonings and deaths are attributed to amateur chefs who incompetently prepare this popular delicacy.

Cooking fugu

To cook a fugu fish, the cook must complete the 30 prescribed steps, violating even one of which he may lose his license. After the poisonous parts are removed with a special knife, the fish is cut into pieces and then washed under water to remove toxins and blood. Poisoned organs are placed in special containers stored under lock and key. They are disposed of as radioactive waste in a waste incinerator.

Cooks take live fish from the aquarium and punch her head with a hammer blow. The flesh is cut into thin pieces, the still beating heart is removed. Some experts say that removing toxin-containing parts is a relatively simple process. Others disagree, since poisonous parts may vary with different species of fish. One marine biologist said in an interview with the newspaper Yomirui: “Even professionals have difficulty in determining the poisonous part of some of the snuff, because they differ from each other. The same fish needs to be tested by several people with proper knowledge. ”

The famous sushi chef Yitaka Sasaki told the Los Angeles Times that the statement about lip numbness is a mistake. “It's a lie,” he said. “If you eat fugu fish and your lips are numb - you are on your way to death.”

Fugu dishes

Usually, a puffy tasting costs $ 40 - $ 100 per person and usually includes five courses. These include raw fugu, roasted, braised, as well as soups and broths. Fish is often pickled in vinegar and topped with spicy sauce with a mixture of Japanese radish, Welsh green onions, seaweed and soy sauce.

Puffer Fish Description

The poisonous species of the puffer family (Tetraodontidae) also have other, less well-known names:

  • tooth-tooth (with a monolithic structure of the teeth, which are merged together),
  • chetyrehzubovye, or chetyrekhuby (with teeth fused together on the jaws, thereby forming two upper and two lower plates),
  • fish dogs (with a well-developed sense of smell and the ability to determine smells in the water column).

The fish belonging to the genus Takifugu occupies a very honorable place in modern Japanese art and oriental culture. The mechanics of the action of a toxic substance is pumped into the paralysis of the muscular system of living organisms. At the same time, the victim of poison maintains full consciousness until the moment of death.

Fatal outcome is a result of fairly rapid suffocation. На сегодняшний день антидот к яду рыбы такифугу отсутствует, а стандартные медицинские мероприятия при работе с такими пострадавшими заключаются в попытках поддерживать функционированием дыхательной и кровеносной системы до исчезновения симптоматики интоксикации.

It is interesting! В отличие от большинства других рыб, представители иглобрюхих не имеют чешуи, а их тело покрывает эластичная, но достаточно плотная кожа.

Внешний вид, размеры

A significant part of the species of the genus Takifugu described today are inhabitants of the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean. Several representatives of the genus inhabit the freshwater rivers in China. The genus includes omnivorous fish with strong teeth, which are often relatively large in size, which is caused by the absence in the diet of such aquatic inhabitants of abrasive feed. If there is danger, poisonous fish may well bite their offender.

Currently, not all representatives belonging to the Takifugu genus have been studied as thoroughly as possible, and the greatest amount of reliable information has been collected only on the species of Tawifugu (Takifugu rubripes), which is explained by commercial breeding and quite active use of such fish in cooking. Throughout his life, brown puffer is able to change color from a darker color to light shades. This feature depends on the environment in the habitat.

General indicators of the body length of an adult Takifugu rubripes reach 75-80 cm, but most often the size of the fish does not exceed 40-45 cm. In the area of ​​the sides and behind the pectoral fins there is one rather large roundish black spot, which is surrounded by a white ring. The surface of the body is covered with peculiar spines. The maxillary teeth of the representatives of the species, located in a small-sized oral cavity, merge into a pair of single plates resembling a parrot beak.

Dorsal fin contains within 16-19 light rays. Their number in the anal fin does not exceed 13-16 pieces. At the same time, the ovaries and liver of fish are extremely toxic. The intestine is less toxic, and there is no toxin in meat, skin and testis. Gill covers covering the gill openings are absent. In front of the pectoral fin, a well-marked small hole can be observed, which leads to the gills directly into the body of the fish.

It is interesting! Now representatives of the species Brown Toby are a sought-after model organism used in a wide variety of biological studies.

Lifestyle, behavior

Thanks to scientific research, we managed to find out that the puffers cannot swim at a decent speed. This feature is due to the aerodynamic characteristics of the body of the fish. Nevertheless, representatives of the species have good maneuverability, thanks to which they can quickly turn, move in the direction forward, backward and even to the side.

Representatives of the genus have a characteristic pear-shaped body, rarely found in open water conditions, prefer to stay close to the seabed, where they study a complex environment, represented by oyster, grassy meadows and rocky reefs. Pufferfish often accumulate in shallow water and in sandy areas near the estuaries or canals, as well as near reef and algal sites.

Curious and very active fish can sometimes be aggressive towards members of their own genus and other aquatic inhabitants. Sensing danger, the fish is inflated to the state of a balloon as a result of filling its extremely elastic stomach with air or water. This process is controlled by a special valve located at the bottom of the fish's mouth.

It is interesting! Despite the relatively small size of the eye, fugu sees quite well, but due to the large number of receptors on the tentacles under the eyes, the representatives of the genus have a wonderful sense of smell.

Fugu fish poison

It is difficult to call a more expensive and at the same time very dangerous dish in Japanese cuisine than cooked puffer fish. The average cost of a medium-sized fish is about $ 300, and the price of a complex lunch is $ 1,000 or even more. The incredible toxicity of the species is explained by the presence in the fish tissue of a huge amount of tetrodoxin. The meat of one fish can cause fatal poisoning in three dozen people, and the level of toxicity of tetrodoxin is higher than strychnine, cocaine, and curare venom.

The very first symptoms of intoxication with fugu poison are manifested in the victim within a quarter of an hour. At the same time, numbness of the lips and tongue, the appearance of excessive salivation and impaired coordination of movements are noted. During the first day, more than half of the people who become poisoned are fatal, and 24 hours is considered a critical time. Sometimes there is vomiting and diarrhea, severe abdominal pain. The degree of toxicity of fish varies depending on its species characteristics.

Tetrodoxin does not belong to the category of proteins, and its action causes a complete stop of transmission of nerve impulses. At the same time, the passage of sodium ions through the cell membranes is blocked without the negative effect of the active components of the poison on potassium ions. Toxins in poisonous freshwater puffers are contained in the skin. Such a specific interaction of the toxin with cellular structures has recently often been considered by pharmacists and may well be used as a painkiller.

The high cost of poisonous fish does not reduce its popularity. The pricing of an exotic and dangerous dish is influenced not by the rarity of the puffer, but by the incredible complexity of cooking such fish. In special restaurants only licensed chefs are engaged in the preparation of puffer, which extract caviar, liver and other entrails from fish. Clean fillets have a certain amount of toxin, which makes it possible to feel the symptoms of poisoning, but which is not capable of causing death.

It is interesting! The use of properly prepared fugu fish is accompanied by a state that resembles a slight narcotic intoxication - numbness of the tongue, palate and extremities, as well as a feeling of mild euphoria.


Representatives of the low-boreal subtropical Asian species live in the brackish and marine waters of the north-west Pacific. Such fish became widespread in the southern part of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, in the western waters of the Sea of ​​Japan, where it lives near the mainland coast, up to Olga Bay. The fugu population can be observed in the Yellow and East China Seas, near the Pacific coast of Japan from Kyushu Island to the Volcanic Bay.

In Russian waters belonging to the Sea of ​​Japan, fish enter the northern part of Peter the Great Bay, up to South Sakhalin, where it is an ordinary aquatic inhabitant in the summer. The demersal (bottom) non-migrating non-migrating fish inhabit waters to a depth of 100 m. At the same time, adults prefer coves and sometimes penetrate to brackish waters. Juveniles and juveniles most often occur in the brackish waters of river estuaries, but as they develop and grow, such fish try to move away from the coasts.

It is interesting! Of the fresh natural bodies of water that fugu fish inhabit, the Nile, Niger and Congo rivers, as well as the Amazon and Lake Chad, are distinguished.

Puffer Diet

The habitual diet of poisonous puffer fish is represented by not too appetizing, at first glance, bottom inhabitants. The representatives of the puffer family and the puffer fish order prefer to eat relatively large starfish, as well as hedgehogs, various mollusks, worms, algae and corals.

According to many domestic and foreign scientists, it is the peculiarities of the diet that make fugu poisonous, very dangerous for human life and health. Toxic substances from food actively accumulate inside the fish, mainly in the cells of the liver and intestines, as well as in the eggs. At the same time the fish itself does not suffer from accumulated toxins in the body.

When kept in a domestic aquarium, for feeding adults, takifugu uses a typical diet, represented by moths, worms, mollusks and fry, all kinds of crustaceans with hard shell, as well as tubules and core. Infusoria, Cyclops, Daphnia, crushed egg yolk and Artemia nauplia are used to feed the young and young fish.

It is interesting! Japanese scientists derived a special, non-poisonous puffer form from the city of Nagasaki, since toxins in the meat of such fish are not present from the moment of birth, but accumulate from the diet of the aquatic inhabitant.

Reproduction and offspring

The representatives of puffers spawn in sea waters, in the period from March to the end of spring. In families formed by adult fish, only males are most responsible for their parental responsibilities. During the period of active breeding, the male takes care of the female, describing circles around it. Such a special dance serves as a kind of invitation for a sexually mature female and forces her to sink to the bottom, after which the pair select the stone most suitable for spawning.

Caviar is deposited on the selected bottom stone by females, which is immediately fertilized by males. After the roe is laid, the females leave the spawning grounds, but leave the males to protect their offspring. The parent stands on the stone and protects the clutch with his own body, which allows him to avoid eating offspring by numerous aquatic predators. After tadpoles are born, the father of the offspring prepares a special recess in the bottom part. In such a pit, fry are protected by a male until the moment when the offspring can feed on their own.

Natural enemies

The poisonous fugu fish is deservedly considered to be the worst enemy of fishing, because other aquatic animals rarely coexist with small representatives of the genus of ray-finned fish from the iglorygovyh family and the detachment of the fish-tailed fish. A reliable defense of takifugu from predators is its ability to swell to the state of a spiked ball, as well as toxic meat. It is for this reason that aquatic creatures that hunt most other fish prefer to avoid poisonous fugu.

Commercial value

In Asia, there are a large number of farms involved in the production of fugu. Despite the fact that fish from such farms is sold at an affordable price, artificial production of delicacy does not arouse much enthusiasm among supporters of Japanese traditions, as well as all highly qualified chefs who have spent considerable money, time and effort to obtain a special license.

In the natural habitat to catch such a fish is not too difficult. For this purpose, fishermen use float and spinning tackle, ordinary "hooks" with a hook and a planted bait. A characteristic feature of the representatives of the puffer-fish family and the puffer-fish squad is that such an aquatic inhabitant is not able to swallow the bait, but prefers to stick on a sharp hook with its belly with prickles. At the same time, two or three fish can cling in this way at once.

In Japan, in 1958, a law was issued, according to which, cooks who were allowed to work with such poisonous fish should receive a special license. Obtaining this permits document involves passing two exams: theory and practice. A significant number of applicants for a cook license are eliminated at the first stage, when it is necessary to demonstrate knowledge of various varieties of puffer fish and voice known methods of detoxification. At the end of the second stage, the cook must eat his own dish.

It may also be interesting:

Serving a fish dish involves strict observance of a certain ritual, in which at first guests are served the least poisonous pieces from the back of the puffer, and at the very last stage a rather poisonous part of the fish is tasted - the belly. The chef is obliged to monitor the state of health of the guests, as well as provide them with competent medical support, which allows them to notice any negative changes in a timely manner and prevent possible dangerous consequences.

Puffer flippers are used to prepare a kind of drink, the use of which noticeably sharpens the work of the sense organs, causes the appearance of a hallucinogenic effect and a slight degree of intoxication. For the purpose of cooking, the charred fins of a poisonous puffer fish descend in sake for about one minute. It is such an exotic drink that it is mandatory for visitors to drink immediately before eating a dish of deadly fish.

It is interesting! The most famous case of death from eating fugu was the poisoning of the legendary actor Mitsugoro Bando, registered in 1975, who died as a result of paralysis after tasting the liver of a fish in a Kyoto restaurant.