Photo: National Geographic

Fugu is the Japanes word for pufferfish, and it is also one of the world’s deadliest foods. And yet, people from all over the world come [mostly] to Japan to try the delicacy.

The reason why fugu is so deadly is because the pufferfish contains a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin.

A lethal dose for a full-grown man would fit on the head of a pin. YEAH. YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY. A PIN!

National Geographic labels fugu as “the seafood version of Russian roulette”.

From National Geographic:

One mistake in preparation could mean death for connoisseurs of fugu, the poisonous puffer fish that is a high-priced delicacy in Japan. Chefs must pass a rigorous certification process, a timed test to prove their skills at eviscerating, filleting, separating poisonous and edible parts on marked trays, and then identifying the organs with tags. In Tokyo, the city’s fugu association administers the examination every August at the Tsukiji Fish Market.

Symptoms vary in individuals but may include numbness of the lips, tongue, face, and extremities; floating sensation; dizziness; headache; vomiting; abdominal pain; diarrhea; slurred speech; difficulty walking; extensive muscle weakness; and death within a few hours. The substance is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide, and one puffer fish contains enough poison to kill 30 people. There is no known antidote.

Ok, if you didn’t read all that I’ll summarize it for you. Basically, if you ingest even the tiniest bit by accident, YOU WILL GO CRAZY AND DIE WITHIN A FEW HOURS. Blame the chef all you want, but you’ll be dead. Last year, at least 15 people were killed when they accidentally bought fugu disguised as salmon.

When you order this dish, your life is literally in the hands of the chef.

Check out the video below of fugu being prepared by a Japanese chef.

As you can see, the fugu is alive when it gets chopped up. It’s still breathing even when it’s mouth gets cut off.

Anyway, all of this talk of fugu makes me a bit scared and a bit curious. I’d love to sit down and try some one day. Morimoto in New York City supposedly has the best fugu in town.

This time I really mean it…THOSE CRAZY JAPANESE!!!