Monday, Feb. 22, 2010


Served in paper-thin slices by expert chefs, fugu combines luxury with a high-stakes gamble. The intestines, ovaries and liver of fugu (or blowfish) contain a poison called tetrodotoxin, which is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide. The toxin is so potent that a lethal dose is smaller than the head of a pin, and a single fish has enough poison to kill 30 people. Because of the high risk, chefs must undergo two to three years of training to obtain a fugu-preparing license, and such expertise raises the price of a fugu dish to up to $200. But this hasn't stopped the Japanese — about 40 kinds of fugu are caught in Japan, and people consume 10,000 tons of the fish every year.