Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Evil Blowfish Strikes Again

Fugu, also known as blowfish, sickened several people in a Tsuroka City, Japan, restaurant this week.

The report from Tokyo, indicated that the chef “had no license to serve blowfish.” He might even be charged with professional negligence.

On further investigation, I found that the chef was not cooking the whole fugu. He was serving sashimi created by preparing uncooked thin slices of the fugu creature’s testicles - a rare delicacy.

Since when do you need a license to serve blowfish?

I always cooked and served the blowfish that we caught out of New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay. No one ever got sick and I never had to get chef certification; but then, I never tried to find the fish’s testicles either.

Catching the blowfish was as exciting as watching Air Jordan and the Washington Wizards. If you took them off the hook and tossed them into the back of the boat too quickly, they would often puff themselves up and bounce back into the water like a basketball. All the locals refer to them as “pesky puffers.”

We managed to catch 60 of them once. There is "no limit" on the number of pesky puffers you can keep in New Jersey. You have to get them when they are hungry though, preferably late afternoon. I caught one with a small piece of hamburger bun and a number two hook. It must have been the smell of the Dijon mustard that attracted the fish. However, it took several hours to clean enough of them for dinner.

I remember them being coarse, scaly, and messy to clean. To clean them, we used thick rubber gloves, a sharp knife, and a pair of pliers. The fish have only one small piece of flesh running down the inside of the back bone that is edible. Pliers must be used to turn the fish practically inside out, so that the flesh can be extracted. After all that, we were trying to protect ourselves from the carnivorous greenhead flies, starving, and it was really too much work to go on a testicle hunt.

Recycled blowfish skin can be fashioned into Japanese lanterns.

Since there was no wasabi in the galley, I took them home to cook. When they are breaded and fried, blowfish taste like chicken.

New Jersey anglers rock!

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