Fugu (puffer or blow fish) can be very fatal if not prepared correctly. Rest (somewhat) assured, legal fugu in this country must be imported from licensed chefs in Japan who remove the toxic aspects. To the best of my knowledge Kaz is the only place in the area that offers a fugu course, though seasonally and prepaid at $150 a head (with a minimum of two). As with any really fresh sashimi, it will need to be eaten almost immediately. So keep in mind you might have to be flexible with the reservation. Onto the food...
Course 1: fugu sashimi
Generally the rule of thumb with sashimi is the more tender the meat, the thicker you can cut. Having said that, fugu has a slightly chewy texture so the sashimi must be very thin. This is served with a ponzu sauce and scallions for brushing up against. I made it a point to have my first bite without condiment so that I could appreciate the distinctive characteristics of this fish. Very pleasant, mild and delicate. As Kaz put it, probably the least fishiest of the fish.
Course 2: fugu skin salad
The skin is shredded, poached for a moment and then tossed with light veggies and ponzu sauce. An even chewier consistently but not distractingly so.
Course 3: fugu tempura
Fried fugu nuggets if you will. Tasty, juicy, light and enjoyable.
Course 4: fugu hot pot
Similar in concept to other Asian hot pots, except a much more mild broth. Instead of heavy spices and broths, it's kombu based for the more delicate tasting meat. Dip in the sections of fugu only for a moment to reveal very tender and tasty bites. Reminded me almost of frog in terms of consistency at this point. Accompanied is an assortment of veggies for a quick boil. Careful not to overcook and I hope you're good with bones!
Course 5: fugu congee
Taking the remaining broth, rice is dumped in along with a bit of scrambled egg, forming a high brow congee. I ate the first bowl without condiment before experimenting with combinations of the provided seaweed and ponzu. A bit of ponzu turned out to be great but the taste of the seaweed seemed to mask the fish.
Course 6: dessert
Sake ice cream w/ fresh Asian pear. A delicate dessert to complete a delicate course. Hit the spot and wasn't overbearing. Complimentary plum wine made available at this time.
I could appreciate the traditional preparations and all in all an enjoyable experience. I suppose it's almost a right of passage for any sashimi/Japanese food enthusiast but not something I would rush back into. A word to the wise-- fugu is a very light and delicate tasting fish. Furthermore Kaz prepares it very traditionally which means not a lot of seasoning or supplemental ingredients. Don't go expecting Nobu fusions or toro liked marbled meat. A good experience, but altogether a delicate, subtle one.
Interesting side note, after the sashimi course I felt a slight increase in heart rate which played on my nerves to say the least. I think there might have been sake in the ponzu that spurred a minor panic attack! Amusing (at least now).
Thanks for reading!
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