34 New Things: Try Fugu

Every year I make a list of new things I want to try.  Some of them are easy.  Some are difficult. Some are shockingly mundane.  You can read about past adventures here.

Friends, it may shock you to discover that Minneapolis, landlocked and cold, is not a city known for its sushi. What?  I know.  I’m as surprised as you are.

And truth be told, I don’t care.  I don’t actually like sushi.  I usually only eat fish that were caught by my dad from the lake in front of our house.  But!  This list is about adventure!  And trying new things!  And apparently hard-to-find, expensive novelty food.

So when I finally found a restaurant in the Twin Cities that carries fugu, I obviously arranged a Facebook event for my friends and reserved a table for 14 on a blustery Thursday night.  And by the time we all ducked in from the cold and got settled and requested menus, the staff informed us that, well, they didn’t actually have any blowfish sushi left.

Apparently, they get a shipment of the fish every Monday and sometimes?  They use it all up by midweek.  But don’t worry!  They still had flaming fugu sake!

What’s that?  It’s a juice glass full of rice wine with two leathery fish fins floating in it.  Set on fire.

We had made the reservations.  We’d stumbled through the snow.  We’d paid for parking downtown.  I was going to pay $15 for this flaming fish wine and I was going to drink it.

So I did.

And you know what it tasted like?  Exactly what you’d imagine a glass of rice wine with fish fins floating in it tastes like.  After it’s been set on fire.

I took a sip and passed it around the table and it came back to me still suspiciously full.  So I dug the fins out with my chopsticks, drank it like a shooter, nearly gagged, and then settled into a light buzz while I ate my $11 broccolini in brown sauce.   The night culminated with one very brave friend eating the fins on a $12 dare.

“Gristle-y” he announced.

Have you ever had fugu?  Would you?

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  1. Georgie

    Yes! I have eaten it, it was wonderful. I had it in Japan with my high school teacher workmates, we had fugu sashimi, deep fried fugu, and fugu hot pot. The sashimi was the best – so thin! So easy to roll into a ball! So tasty! Definitely recommended.

  2. Caroline

    Did any of you secretly expect to die within the next week like Homer Simpson in that awesome episode? 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I think when I created the Facebook invite I included a link to that video on Youtube!

  3. Carrie from Talking In Space

    Um, I am willing to try lots of things but fish fins in sake may not be one of them. At least you can say you tried it! : )

  4. And Kathleen

    Ahhh… Caroline! I was just coming over here to comment about that Simpsons episode. It's my favorite of ALL time.

  5. Jessica

    I've eaten fugu while in Tokyo, I found it to be a quite uneventful thing. I obviously survived it all but it was really not much to it. Pricy as hell though, I was happy I wasn't paying the bill.

  6. Lianjne

    Your face is absolutely priceless in the third – & YOU BRAVE SOUL YOU!

  7. Manda

    I don't think I would try fugu (in a flaming shot or otherwise) unless I was in japan! If I'm going to try something as exotic as that, I'd want it straight from the country of origin! Your expression in the third photo is what I'd imagine mine to be if I tried it!

  8. eileen ragan | leanerbythelake.com

    This totally reminded me of the Simpson's episode where Homer eats blowfish at the Japaenese restaurant. Specifically, this exact shot.

    Go you for trying something new! I recently got my boyfriend to try sushi and now, after years of protesting, he's decided that he loves it. In fact, he's more adventurous than I am! Time to try some new things for me, too! …but maybe not fugu 🙂


  9. Sarah Lynn Knowles

    hahaha the picture alone says it all! awesome.

  10. Cassey

    Those pictures are hilarious! You're a much braver soul than I am!

  11. brlracincwgrl

    You are much braver than I! And that photo makes me giggle! *High Five* for new experiences! 🙂

  12. Sarah Hall

    I don't know if I would ever eat the fins, but I've tried the sake. It's definitely something different! 🙂

    Sarah Hall,
    Young Blogger,

  13. Nessbow

    Oh dude, you are infinitely braver than I am. I don't think I could possibly have gotten that down (and kept it down).
    Kudos to you for trying new things though (and for sharing them with us).

  14. AdventuresandTea

    Ohhh I could never try the fins I'm to picky to even consider it! But I'd probably have a quick sip of the sake as well!

  15. Katie @ Domestiphobia.net

    I'd probably try it. But here's the thing: You live in Minneapolis! Land of Walleye! If I ever moved back there, I think that's the only fish I'd ever eat. 🙂

  16. Jennifer

    Yum yum! I've had fugu lots of times and actually really like it. It has a unique texture compared to other types of sashimi. But if you want to put something really crazy and amazing on your next list, try basashi. It's thinly sliced raw horse meat served with a spicy miso dipping sauce. It is delicious, I promise! It's definitely a Japan-only food though 😉

  17. Ally

    I've never heard of fugu but I would try it! I'm also from Minnesota and I didn't try sushi until I went on a Caribbean cruise last year. Sushi was the appetizer for dinner one night. None of my friends would try it but I took a bite from every type of sushi on the plate. Not sure what they were but some were spicy while others tasted fishy. None of it was bad but I probably wouldn't eat it again. I also tried alligator and frog legs on that cruise.

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