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Where can I find resources on how the Japanese chefs are trained to prepare pufferfish delicacy safely? I understand their standard requires a written and practical exam.

I've tried searching for authoritative books on the topic but can't seem to find any resources on it.

Surely there are resources geared towards exam preparation. Perhaps such books may contain information on general food safety such as preventing cross contamination etc.

This definitely falls under the professional hospitality sector as this is a high risk task (no homemade or DIY) and you can't make simple mistakes without severe health consequences.

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    I assume you're actually searching through books actually written in Japanese? Because if you're not...that's probably your first problem.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 18:31
  • Or you could just buy the safe kind; nytimes.com/2008/05/04/world/asia/04fugu.html
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 22:34

1 Answer 1

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You are saying it yourself: since fugu preparation is no place for DIY, you won't find general resources on how to learn to prepare it, because easily available resources would be a prompt for DIY attempts.

One needs to train under the direct supervision of a trained person

How does one obtain authorization to cook fugu?

Fugu cooking licenses are granted to those who pass a fugu handling examination, usually after having undergone apprenticeship under someone already qualified.

It should be noted that fugu cooking licenses are administered by local goverment (ie: prefectures, municipalities in the case of cities like Osaka or Kyoto), therefore the contents of the exam and the apprenticeship prior can differ from region to region. The course that one must complete can take longer in some places, while the exam can present itself to be more difficult in other areas.

For instance, in what is said the be the strictest place regarding fugu licensing in Japan: Yamaguchi Prefecture, it is necessary to work for at least 3 years under someone qualified before being allowed to take the exam, while in Tōkyō it is possible to take the test after 2 years of apprenticeship.

Also to be noted:

Fugu in the world

It is also interesting to note that Fugu dishes can also be found in South Korea, where it is called bok-eo (복어). It is also imported into the United States where it can sometimes be served under very strict regulation and licensing. Fugu is, however, entirely banned in the European Union.

To address the comments that there are videos explaining how to do it: I am very passionate about Japan, and I have read many things related to Japanese food, including also the topic of fugu.

One of them, which I can't find back to properly quote, mentioned that the art of preparing fugu is not in removing all the toxic parts, but in doing so while leaving just enough toxin that one feels it without ending up being killed. The Japanese connoisseurs call the slight numbness which should follow eating well prepared fugu "the taste of death". Judging the amount of toxin in a fish and tune the subsequent cleaning based on that is hardly teachable in a Youtube video.

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    "you won't find general resources on how to learn to prepare it" regarding this point, I could find books on electrical transformer and grid electricity distribution (in the US at least) when these are off limits to non professionals. You can even find books on the National Electric Code Sample Examination questions. (Beware, they aren't cheap) The reason for this analogy is that a person like me may want to educate ourselves and understand the process, not necessarily becoming a Fugu chef. You could be a hotel owner, deciding whether you want a Japanese buffet restaurant on your premise.
    – Nederealm
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 7:39
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    @Nederealm the difference is that electrical transformers are an application of a well known study field, whereas fugu preparation is much more niche and probably only in Japan. I don't believe there are as many fugu trained chefs as there are electrical engineers.
    – Luciano
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 7:57
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    My brother obtained a pufferfish license in Japan. As this answer says, he was an apprentice for a good while before taking the exam(s). Regarding whether the information about safe preparation is any kind of secret, I doubt it. In words it’s very simple: cut away the portions that have concentrated poison (the liver, for example) without spreading any poison to the meat. That’s it. The first trick is knowing where the poison is concentrated and recognizing those parts of a pufferfish carcass, and the other trick is highly developed knife skills to excise cleanly. It’s skills, not knowledge. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 20:29
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    @Nederealm There's probably a bit of a cultural difference here as well, I suspect there's a fair bit more gatekeeping in the world of Fugu preparation as opposed to utility scale electrical engineering. The latter is probably keen to hire more motivated and enthusiastic engineers, whereas the former might want to control their competition, or might not trust others who they, or one of their associates, haven't taught personally not to poison their customers. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 20:33
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    @Crazymoomin Cooking is an art, and much of Japanese cooking, especially high-end sushi, is a very refined art. Before even starting the apprenticeship that involved learning to prepare pufferfish, my brother worked and studied in a Japanese restaurant for nine years, and that is a considered a short amount of time in Japanese cuisine. It is a completely different type of work from electrical engineering. Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 3:42

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