unadulterated delicacy

alain delon

Alain Delon goes fishing for fugu

Regular readers know that nursemyra loves exotic food and I’m always keen to try something new. I’ve never had the opportunity to sample fugu but Adam Platt has and he tells us about eating a certain part of it here

art by chen fei

Art by Chen Fei

With the possible exception of the illicit liver, no part of the fugu creates quite the same flutter of excitement among blowfish lovers as the fugu sperm sac. The literal translation of shira-ko is “white babies.”  The appeal of the dish, according to Chef Masa, comes in part from its pure, milky texture (“It’s smooth,” he says, “like Brie cheese”) and its obvious overtones of virility. But the dish’s most enticing quality is its extra touch of lethality. It’s the only edible part of the fugu innards, and when not fully engorged, the sperm sac looks uncannily like a set of the deadly fugu ovaries. “If you eat fresh ovary by mistake,” says Hashimoto, “then you die.”


Presently, Hashimoto returns from his little kitchen with what looks like two glistening plastic bags of condensed milk. He wants us to see the real thing, the raw, unadulterated delicacy, before he starts preparing his dish. The shira-ko are as white as snow, bouncy to the touch, and disturbingly large, about the size of a pair of healthy water balloons. As we examine them politely Shinji’s eyes light up. “That’s a really nice sperm sac,” he says.

Another dish I’ve never tried is Eskimo Ice Cream.

The native people of Alaska have a distinct version of ice cream. It’s not creamy ice cream as we know it, but a concoction made from reindeer fat or tallow, seal oil, freshly fallen snow or water, fresh berries, and sometimes ground fish. Air is whipped in by hand so that it slowly cools into foam. They call this Arctic treat akutaq, aqutuk, ackutuk, or Eskimo ice cream.

reduce your flesh

Akutaq can also be made with moose meat and fat, caribou meat and fat, fish, seal oil, berries and other Alaskan things. Traditionally it was always made for funerals, potlatches, celebrations of a boy’s first hunt, or almost any other celebration. It is eaten as a dessert, a meal, a snack, or a spread

Here in Australia we also eat unusual foods like the ubiquitous Vegemite, kangaroo steaks (delicious and low in cholesterol) and an Aboriginal favourite – witchetty grubs


Witchetty grubs are traditionally eaten live and raw. Their meat is rich in protein and makes for a highly nutritious snack if you’re tramping through the bush. Raw witchetties have a subtle, slightly sweet flavour and a liquid centre.

Barbecued, witchetties are often eaten as an appetizer. They are cooked over a fire on pieces of wire, rather like shasliks or satays. It takes about two minutes each side for the meat to become white and chewy and the skin crusty. Barbecued witchetties taste quite like chicken or prawns with peanut sauce.


Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 8:53 am  Comments (41)  
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41 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yummy!!! This sound like a buffet fit for a king. Grubs, sperm sac’s and seal fat that had been beaten to within an inch of its life served with berries and other funky ingredients. I think that this is going to be my lunch for today. Hey Nurse, any idea where I might be able to get these items in South Africa?

  2. ebay?


    • It would make an interesting visit to e-bay that is for sure. Not sure that I could convince the wife to enjoy any of these items though. I am willing to try most things once but things…..

  3. I love trying new food, am dead keen to try the witchitties and seal ice cream – fugu sperm not so much.

    When in Kenya I balked at the Masai’s milk concoctions: the ones mixed with things like urine, blood and ash.

  4. I’ll try most things. But not someone else’s urine.

    • Hmmm… that almost sounds like you-know-who’s urine would be fine with you-know-who.

      Eunice How

  5. @Myra – loved the post, of course.

    I was a bit shocked and a tiny bit excited to read about the joy of sperm as a food ingredient…

    They suggest you substitute it for eggwhite.


  6. God, you took away my appetite for supper!

  7. Wow… I haven’t seen these ingredients down at the local woolies… I’m not sure I would feel comfortable asking for fugu sperm sac at the delicatessen counter.

    • How about if you were at a high class Japanese restaurant?

  8. All for the discerning palate.

    Wordless Wednesday

  9. i’ll have a Guinness and some chips, thanks…

  10. when in Rome, I guess… but, not being in Rome, I’ll have the hamburger and fries, thank you.

  11. I’m gagging.

  12. I couldn’t do the Fugu sperm sac thing. I don’t even like caviar or slurping oysters. But I would love to try both the Eskimo ice cream and especially the barbecued witchetties.

  13. I did once try the caribou akutaq, but to be honest, it gave me the most terrible wind, not to mention making one hell of a mess in the freezer.

    I would like to volunteer my own fugu on a regular basis though. No need to reply, it’s rude to speak with your mouth full.

  14. Fish icecream made with moose fat. Mmmmmm. I’ll get the TCA flavour chemists on it right away!

    • Well if anyone can get it right, they can

  15. The only other Eskimo delicacy I’ve heard of has a recipe that begins: kill and gut 1 seal, stuff body cavity with auk and bury for 6 months. I never dared find out what came next.

    Fugu is fine, really not bad at all, provided someone else is paying.

  16. I think I’ll skip lunch today.

    But maybe I’ll try something exotic for dinner. No testes or ovaries, though.

    I think. 🙂

  17. I have eaten cooked wichetty grubs. Not too bad, a bit like chicken but crunchy. The rest, everyone else is welcome to it!

  18. sorry but I could not get further than that photo of Alain Delon… swoon;-)

    • Isn’t he delectable?

      • Amen!

  19. MY GOD!! well, i htought i was getting hungry but now…naw….

  20. I’m interested in a kangaroo steak. I bet they’re worth more than a guinea in a box.

  21. Kangaroo steak sounds interesting. The rest… I’m just not that adventurous. 🙂

  22. This reminds me of that show, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer. Do you guys get that show outside the USA?

    • We get “In the Danger Zone” with Stefan Gates – it’s the same sort of premise

  23. And I always thought that the salmon and mussel mousse we used to have at my old restaurant was strange.

  24. Minute Lice. I remember those stickers. What was the name of the set that they came in???

  25. You made me hungry woman!

  26. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 30 years so none of this for me thanks but as I child I’d eat most things. i had a particular liking for jellied eels and also the stuffed hearts that my grandmother used to make.

    • What were the hearts stuffed with – breadcrumbs?

      • Breadcrumbs and herbs I think.

  27. Sounds like an episode of The Bush Tucket Man! Almost everything he pointed at, he would say, “You see that? You can eat that, it tastes just like chicken!”

  28. Wow, you made Malach a hungry woman. I’ll pay you in cash if you can make him a mute, too.

  29. I was “treated” to authentic eskimo icecream during my time in the Arctic Chamber Orchestra. Seal fat tastes very fishy and the addition of blueberries is not helpful. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m going to eat something that is that laden with calories it had better taste REALLY good. Moosehead soup is not much better, either.

  30. Ever heard of this bloke Ray Mears? I first heard about those witchetty grubs from him – interesting clip here.Not coming to a McDonald’s near you though.

    • Never heard of him before. Those honey ants are new to me too, though I’d be game to try them

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