Fugu, despite being (or perhaps because it can be) dangerously poisonous if prepared incorrectly is an incredibly versatile fish to work with. The parboiled skin sashimi is a favorite, as is “tessa,” which is essentially fugu sashimi. Today’s exposé on fugu deliciousness, however, comes in a hot pot.
Fugu Nabe (“nabe” means hot pot in Japanese) features a light broth structured so as to not overwhelm the delicate flavors of the white meat fugu. The soup’s foundation owes everything to konbu (seaweed), which is boiled in plain water for thirty minutes before anything else. Like grapes are to wine, in Japanese cuisine, dried seaweed can add depth flavors that you would not expect from such humble beginnings.
As an aside, pop culture probably has this lesson covered, but it should be mentioned anyway that cutting up a fugu should absolutely not be something you just take a swing at. Best to eat fugu at a restaurant, or at the very least have a professional cut it up for you.
Back to the delicious. Into the delicate seaweed infused broth, the part of the fish with bones still attached goes in first, then a bit later the fillet pieces, and a garden variety of vegetables that typically may include Japanese long green onion, white cabbage, and mushrooms. Put a lid on that sucker for about twenty minutes and you have a sweet synthesis of fish and mushroom goodness to dig into. As you remove items from the soup to eat, it is suggested you accent with ponzu (a citrus soy sauce variant) and momiji oroshi (slightly spicy grated Japanese radish). Toward the tail end of the nabe experience, the fish eggs en sac may make an appearance. These should only be briefly cooked lest they get hard and unappetizing.
Looking to try fugu nabe in Tokyo?
Japan Gourmetpedia recommends using our sister site, Tokyo Dinner Ticket, to find the perfect restaurant.