The short answer to the question: Rubber.
Long answer: like rubber when raw but like silk when cooked.
I happened to have the chance to eat fugu during my trip to Japan. Before I tried it out, I imagined them to taste like salmon–melt in your mouth and smooth with OMEGA 3 fat.
So I decided during our Japan trip in October 2011 (has it been that long?!) that my mom and I will try fugu and hopefully not die from it.
We went to a shop in Osaka, a recommendation from my super awesome Hong Kong-published guidebook which I borrowed from the library. (Yes, I’m not an anti-guidebook traveller because sometimes it saves time and energy.)
The shop, Tsuborya, is in the city’s busy food street–Dotonburi. It’s really easy to spot the place as there’s a very prominent blow-up fugu hangs in the air.
When you enter the shop, there is a sushi counter. Walk further in, there are tables and the window overlooks the canal.
We ordered two different sets. One plate of fugu and one hotpot. We were served tea in a cute cup.
When the fugu sashimi arrived, it looked very promising. Each slice was almost paper thin and translucent.
I picked up a sheet of sashimi, brought it to my mouth and savoured the fish. It wasn’t as fatty as salmon. When I started chewing, I was most disappointed.
The slices felt like rubber or maybe cowhide. It was tough and I had an equally tough time trying to chew through it.
Then the hotpot set arrived. This was a lot more promising. The slices of fish boiled in the clear broth were the most tender thing I’ve tasted. I almost flew to the roof just eating that.
Tough but thin strands of fugu skin came along with the hotpot. The strands were tastier than the sashimi slices as I didn’t have a sheet of rubber in my mouth.
Altogether, the meal was disappointing. Maybe it was because we picked the cheapest sets on the menu but even cheap salmon is tasty.
Well, at least we didn’t die from fugu poisoning.