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
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.
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.