Long restricted in the U.S. and Europe, the wrong bite of a puffer fish can kill. The fish's skin and organs contain tetrodotoxin, a poison that, if ingested, can cause paralysis and death in humans. But, despite this danger, the Japanese delicacy fugu continues to be one of the world's most sought-after plates. While new strains of safe blowfish have become available in recent years, gourmands looking for the real thing – and that side order of danger – head to Mukoujima Hashimoto in the Sumida section of Tokyo between October and February. Some consumers of the dangerous fish swear that its flesh numbs their mouth like novocaine, a singular dining experience.
Thanks to the intense preparation training that fugu chefs undergo, deaths are rare. But there is still a major difference between "rare" and "unheard of," which is probably why this meal isn't about to be legalized stateside.