Fugu, or blowfish, is one of the most poisonous things one can get on a dining table. Occasionally you can still read on the news of people getting rushed to hospital for poisoning. And that’s Japan. Now fugu dining comes to Shanghai, and we are ready to try.
Fugu in China
As one of the oldest countries in the world, China has lot of experience to share. In fact, there are documents in China mentioning the preparation and eating of pufferfish from 1700 years ago! Despite the Chinese government banning the preparation and serving of this fish since 1990, it is still quite popular and often sold off-menu. In fact, the government estimates approximately 30-50,000 of them are eaten each year!
Everyone knows Chinese people love to eat, but very few people know how much effort we have made to get there. When we talk about eating pufferfish in China, we primarily refer to those that swim up the Yangzi River. All Chinese people know this fish as one of the most delicious yet most dangerous foods in China. We even have a well known phrase that means something like: “We’re so desperate to eat a pufferfish that we’re willing to risk our own life.” We often say this to someone who is a true foodie or someone who takes a great risk to accomplish something.
Typically the organs and skin are most poisonous to humans, but that can depend on the time of year and their gender. In China, we often prepare pufferfish in a stew or soup, and people believe that the best time to eat it is just before Tomb Sweeping Festival in spring. We also believe that if you turn the fish skin upside down and swallow it whole, it will be very good for your stomach.
In 2017, the ban in China was slightly relaxed and the government now allows two species of pufferfish from certified farmers. Hopefully this new regulation better guarantees the quality of the fish and the safety of its preparation. While the source of pufferfish toxins are largely unknown, many people believe it is caused from the fish’s diet as the food they eat forms the poison in their organs. Apparently the approved species are farmed with food selected to be less harmful.
This fugu restaurant opened in Raffles Changning and the guys in the office were itching to try.
严选河豚套餐 Selected Fugu Set
1/ 香柚河豚鱼皮丝 Fugu skin in yuzu dressing
2/ 河豚琥珀冻 Fugu terrine
The course continued with a terrine made from boiled fugu skin and bits of fish encased in a jelly made with broth and dashi used to boil the fish.
The skin was chewy and prickly. One was really spooked as you bit into the texture, you though you were poked by one of the spiny prick on the skin. Your imagination ran wild, and for those with weaker constitution, started to break into cold sweat.
3/ 河豚蝉翼生鱼片 Fugu sashimi
We chugged along to one of the highlights, fugu in sashimi style. Thinly sliced fugu was placed like spread wings of a cicada on a blue plate. The blue of the plate can be seen through the slices of sashimi. One can eat these sashimi with grated spicy daikon, julienne spring onions, and strangle, with a dash of lime. But the classic way is to dip it in the yuzu soy sauce provided.
4/ 河豚玉子茶碗蒸 Fugu chawanmushi
The next course was more like a palate cleanser, where bits of the fish were cooked in the chawanmushi.
5/ 鹅肝河豚蒲叶烧 Grilled foie gras and fugu
Foie gras was combined with grilled pieces of fugu that complimented well with each other. The fatty foie gras and the delicate fugu, each leaned on the other for flavour and texture.
6/ 河豚鱼片西京烧 Fugu aburi
This was the least flavourful of the entire course, a bland piece of fugu was given an aburi treatment, and only flavoured with salt. A poorly executed course that got worse as the fish became cold.
7/ 酥炸河豚鱼块 Fugu kaarage
The chunks of fugu were deep fried with a light batter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Again, it turned cold because everything was served in one go, and we did not have time to really taste each course.
8/ 河豚石酒蒸 Hot stone sake steamed fugu
Hot stones in an earthen pot was poured in with sake and the resulting steam was used to cook the fugu in the pot.
The sake lent some of its flavour to the bland fugu fish. As this cut was close to the spine, the flesh was chewy and flaky. Without the sake, it would taste just like boiled fish.
9/ 经典河豚鱼火锅 Classic fugu hotpot
The piece de resistance as the fugu hotpot.
The plain dashi was boiled with a couple of slices of konbu and that formed the basic stock to boil the rest of the ingredients in.
Besides different cuts of fugu, there was the skin of the fugu that was quickly shabu-shabu and then eaten. It was really chewy, so I didn’t really liked it.
Other items like vegetables, fish cakes, mushrooms and tomatoes were added in a fix sequence to slowly build the flavour profile that culminated with the next part of the meal, the boiled rice.
10/ 泡饭 Boiled rice
And the last savoury course was boiled rice using the stock left over from cooking the hotpot.
I really loved this last course, as it allowed one to taste the really tasted stock.
11/ 抹茶冰淇淋 Matcha ice cream
It’s the standard matcha ice cream with a scoop of sweetened red bean.
The waitress was really attentive, answering every question we had about every course. And she was also very patient to endure our sick jokes about getting poisoned by fugu.
A good place to try fugu, but not really a fine dining place as there was not much privacy.
FuKu Ryori 富罟河豚料理 (长宁来福士店)
Tel : (021) 62990673
Date Visited : Mar 2019