I remember seeing dried versions of these fish for sale in junk shops. They usually had an electrical cord up their bums and a lightbulb inside.
They always fell into the category of ”A present for someone you don’t really like”. You know the kind of person I mean.
Then I discovered that they were a species of fish commonly known as Pufferfish, and were eaten as a delicacy in Japan as certain parts of their body are 1,250 more toxic than cyanide, and will kill you.
The trick, apparently, is to eat Torafugu (Korean variety) prepared by licensed cooks only, who will prepare a sashimi dish or a soup that will have just enough poison in it which will numb the mouth and lips, induce a pleasant warm tingling feeling into the body, and give the diner a little high.
Exciting stuff huh? They’ve been doing it for thousands of years in China, and hundreds in Japan, where they now consume 20,000 tons of the fish a year.
It’s banned in the European Union and New York has only been importing it since the 1990’s. They eat a few tons of it a year there now.
It’s worldwide marketing breakthrough, if you can call it that, came in 1975 when a very famous Japanese actor, Mitsugoru Bando, died after eating the devil fish. Don’t ask me if it was performance art, but sales rocketed.
I’ve never eaten it, but I believe the taste is exquisite, and diners tend to get hooked. If you happen to be in Japan soon, and see the inflated versions with the lightbulbs up their bums, hanging outside a restaurant, it means that they employ a licensed Fugu chef, and that it’s fairly safe to try the fish there.
Mitsugoru Bando, the famous Japanese actor, died in 1975 after eating improperly prepared Fugu.