Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Japanese Sushi Contest: Seeking Judges

A Japanese cooking competition that pits two skilled chefs against each other in a challenging, and potentially perilous, endeavor. And two local food writers have the opportunity to be on the judging panel for this unique and exhilarating battle.

Last September, I had the honor to be one of five judges presiding over an epic Sushi battle that was filmed for ABC Asahi Broadcasting, a national Japanese TV network, for a prime time cooking competition. You can read my previous article for background and to learn more about my experience. I have the honor to have been approached again, this time by the Doukeshi Broadcasting Network, to judge another Japanese Sushi contest that will air on Japanese TV. And this time, I have been asked to select two other local food writers to join me on the judging panel.

Once again, a famed Japanese sushi chef will be pitted against a Boston-area judge. Due to confidentiality reasons, I cannot yet reveal the identity of the Boston-area chef except to state that the chef is well known for their skill in seafood preparation, and has been training for the last two months for this upcoming competition.

In partnership with Chicot Seafood, a Japanese based seafood exporter, this culinary competition will focus on a special ingredient, Fugu, Japanese pufferfish. The Japanese have been eating fugu for over 4000 years,and it remains a highly sought delicacy. For the contest, the chefs will prepare fugu in three ways: Sashimi, Nigiri Sushi, and a Maki Roll. The technique of cutting fugu into thin, translucent sashimi slices is known as usudzukuri. It is considered the best way to enjoy this fish.

Yes, you probably are aware that fugu can be poisonous. The organs of the fish contain tetradotoxin, a dangerous poison which paralyzes the body. However, if properly sliced and prepared, you can safely eat the flesh of the fugu. You might feel a slight tingling on your tongue, which is due to residual traces of poison, but it is not a deadly dose and won't even make you ill. In the past fifteen years, less than 30 people in Japan have died from fugu poisoning, and it is almost always because some fool local fisherman decided to make some fugu at home. So, the competition should be completely safe, although you will have to sign a Waiver of Liability just in the remotest of chances that something negative occurs.

This will be an exciting competition and I look forward to judging the results of this endeavor.

If you are a local food writer and wish to participate as a judge, please leave your name and email address in the comments and I will be in touch to discuss that matter. Two judges will be chosen, and you will receive extra consideration if you have experience in Japanese cuisine..

UPDATE: Yes, this was an April Fool's prank post and at least a few people did fall for it. I placed a few hints in the post as to is true nature. First, in the Labels, I placed "holiday" which referred to April Fool's Day. Second, the word "Doukeshi" is a Japanese term that means "clown" or "jester." Third, the word "Chicot" refers to a historical jester who worked for King Henry III. Hope you enjoyed this little joke.

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