A gourmet delicacy to be enjoyed all year round in Japan's fugu capital, Shimonoseki
Fugu blowfish is toxic if cut the wrong way, and only registered chefs with special licenses can prepare fugu dishes. Eating fugu was outlawed in the 16th century, but the ban was lifted later for Shimonoseki, which became the first place in Japan permitted to catch and serve fugu by order of Hirobumi Ito, Japan’s first prime minister and native of Yamaguchi Prefecture. Even today, Shimonoseki ranks number one in Japan in fugu processing, and its Haedomari Market is the only one that specializes in fugu. Only fugu properly processed here can receive the coveted ‘Shimonoseki’ brand designation. Although offerings differ from place to place, a full course typically features an exquisitely arranged platter of sashimi, which you are meant to dip in tangy ponzu sauce, fried fugu, fugu hot pot, fugu rice porridge and hirezake, hot sake with a grilled fugu fin in it. Fugu comes into season in the winter, but in Shimonoseki you can enjoy it year-round. Fun fact: in the local dialect, fugu are called ‘fuku’, which happens to be the same word for luck!