Japan Matsuri Presents… Fugu Pufferfish Demonstration with Master Chef Suda

Watch as the tora-fugu tiger puffer fish is prepared by an award winning chef with over 19 years of experience serving this notoriously poisonous fish. Learn about this refined culinary art and watch Chef Suda plate his signature Fugu Tsurumori, a dish in the shape of an elegant crane.

Fugu sashimi slices should be very thin and almost transparent so that they look like feathers of the crane, which are decorated into the shape of crane wings. He cuts the dried kombu kelp to make the beak, the orange coloured crown of the bird is made from a carrot. Japanese citrus sudachi is added as a garnish, and gold flakes are sprinkled on top. The transparent slices of fugu sashimi aren’t meant to be eaten individually; foodies say that you should pick up a few slices with your chopsticks and eat them after dipping them in momiji-oroshi (grated daikon radish with chili pepper), ponzu, or soy sauce.

The Tessa knife or Tessa-bocho, which Chef Suda uses in this video, is specially designed for him – everything from its length to angles is customised to his needs. He says, ‘the best way to slice fish is just by pulling the knife’ as you let the weight of the knife help slicing it.

The most common fugu dish is sashimi, which is called Tessa. It is one of the most exquisite dishes with which one can enjoy the delicate colours, texture and flavour of a fine Japanese cuisine. Fugu are internationally known for being a highly poisonous fish, and these dishes can only be prepared by exceptionally skilled chefs that have special permit to work with fugu. The word resembles ‘fuku’, a Japanese word for ‘good fortune’ and eating it is considered a lucky charm and served during celebrations and at other special events.

Thrill-seeking is not the only reason that Japanese puffer fish remains so popular – aside from its distinct, subtle flavour and unique chewy texture, fugu is also low in fat and high in protein. Both fugu skin and meat are used in Japanese cuisine, and the meat is very versatile. Fugu was originally a high-class food, but has become more widely available in recent years although still as a premium-priced fish.

Chef Suda not only has culinary expertise, but is also a passionate advocate for food education (shokuiku) in Japan. This is something Sozai Cooking School is planning to work on in the near future with those in various professions, who are concerned with Japanese cuisine. For more information, visit Sozai Cooking School website.

Okimizuki restaurant where Chef Suda recorded this video is located in the Kamo Aquarium, a sleek and modern aquarium in Yamagata, known for its world-class displays of jellyfish and other local sea life.

Master chef Takeshi Suda
須田剛史
Takeshi Suda is the head chef at restaurant Okimizuki in Kamo Aquarium on the coast of Tsuruoka City, Yamagata prefecture, Japan. The city is the one and only UCCN City of Gastronomy in Japan, and Chef Suda actively promotes the Shonai region with the aim of sustaining international tourism in the area. He placed 4th in the Japan National Skills Grand Prix in 2017 and 2019, and represented Yamagata Prefecture abroad in Europe and America. He is a guest chef at Sozai Cooking School and is a board member of All Japan Fugu Association .

In collaboration with the Sozai Cooking School