Can you eat puffer fish?

In this short article, we will address the question “can you eat puffer fish?”. We will learn about what puffer fish is, its history, what makes the fish poisonous and nutritious, why puffer fish is safe to eat in Japan, and how they are prepared and served.

Can you eat puffer fish?

Yes, you can eat puffer fish. The fish is poisonous, however, specialised and certified fugu handlers can prepare the fish in a safe way to be consumed with no side effects.

What is a puffer fish?

The puffer fish, also called fugu, are a type of luxury fish that may be found in Japanese dishes all year. These fish are dangerous, however, they can only be served in restaurants in Japan that employ a certified fugu handler. 

You will be able to consume fugu with confidence thanks to the Japanese government’s overall management of the system.

What is the history of puffer fish?

Japan is an island surrounded by water, and the people of the country have been preparing and eating fugu in inventive ways since the 4th century BC. Around the 17th century AD, Japan was rife with warfare, and many soldiers were poisoned by fugu at the time. During the period an order was issued prohibiting the consumption of fugu.

However, as Western culture spread over Japan towards the end of the 19th century, the ban on eating fugu was lifted in Yamaguchi Prefecture, thanks to Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito’s efforts. 

The restriction was gradually lifted in Japan. And this is how, since ancient times, fugu has been a popular sort of Japanese food.

What makes puffer fish poisonous?

There are roughly 350 different varieties of puffer fish in the globe and about 35 different types of puffer fish in Japan’s oceans. Several of these puffer fish species are extremely poisonous. The puffer fish contains a poison called Tetrodotoxin (DDT), which is considered to be 1,000 times more powerful than potassium cyanide poison. 

The poison is particularly harmful since the poisonous zones change based on the type of puffer fish. As a result, it is important for qualified fugu handlers with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle them.

Is puffer fish nutritious?

Puffer fish or fugu are high in protein and low in calories. Fugu are high in collagen and high in fibre. They also include a variety of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, making them a delicious dish that is also good for beauty and health.

Why is puffer fish safe to eat in Japan?

Puffer fish or fugu is a poisonous fish that is known all throughout the world, but you can eat them safely and without fear in Japan. The Japanese government oversees a system for fugu handler training, this is the main reason why puffer is safe to eat. 

Only qualified fugu handlers are allowed to offer fugu meals under Japanese law, so you can safely consume fugu dishes in restaurants.

How is puffer fish prepared by certified fugu handlers?

  • Certified fugu handlers remove the poisonous bites of the puffer fish and wash the blood off the meat with a lot of water during the preparation procedure. In all, more portions of the fish are discarded than are edible.
  • Also cutting up the flesh takes time and effort, thus puffer fish or fugu is considered a high-end fish.
  • After the poison has been removed, the flesh is cut into tiny slices using a knife and served on a platter. The name of the dish is Tessa, or fugu sashimi which has the appearance of a flower, and the design on the plate can be seen through the meat. You can savour their delectable flavour thanks to the fugu handlers’ inventive preparation methods.
  • Immediately the dangerous components of the puffer fish have been removed during the preparation process, they must be kept in a separate locked storage container and burned, or disposed of in another way that will not endanger human health. 
  • The Japanese government regulates and prohibits fugu handling, and it enforces harsh penalties through fugu rules based on the Food Sanitation Act.

What does puffer fish taste like?

Fugu or puffer fish slices are white in appearance and have a mild, refreshing flavour. It also has a firm texture and a sweet flavour that fills your mouth as you chew it when served as sashimi. 

How is puffer fish served?

  • When fugu is prepared, it can be eaten with ingredients like chopped young green onions, shredded daikon radish, and jalapeño peppers dipped in Ponzu, a soy sauce combined with citrus juice. 
  • It can also be served in different forms, such as in a hotpot with soft meat, in a seasoned rice porridge with umami flavour. 
  • Fugu can be deep-fried with crispy batter on the exterior and juicy meat on the interior. 
  • The skin of the puffer fish is eaten as well which has gelatinous and delicious skin.


In this short article, we will address the question “can you eat puffer fish?”. We will learn about what puffer fish is, its history, what makes the fish poisonous and nutritious, why puffer fish is safe to eat in Japan, and how they are prepared and served.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.