Top 5 Most Bizarre Sushi Ingredients

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Strictly speaking, sushi consists of cooked rice with vinegar and raw seafood. This Japanese cuisine became popular in the United States over the last few decades to the point where it is commonplace in regular supermarkets. Raw tuna and octopus can hardly be considered exotic these days, but these bizarre sushi ingredients are bound to raise eyebrows from even adventurous eaters.

5 Glowing Fish

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From The Center For Genomic Gastronomy comes a collection of recipes for glowing sushi. The bizarre ingredient behind these concoctions are GloFish, a patented brand of zebra fish that are genetically modified to be fluorescent. While not intended as a food source, the genomic gastronomy folks took it upon themselves to come up with such creations as the Kryptonite Roll, the Stop and Glow Nigirizushi and the Not in California Roll (so-called because these “frankenfish” are banned in the state of California). To produce the effect, GloFish must be served raw under either a blacklight or special aquarium lights.

4 Insects

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Most people who find cockroach in their sushi would freak out and send it back. That isn’t the case if you’re being served by chef Shoichi Uchiyama, who created a collection of sushi recipes made with such edible creepy crawlies as spiders, cicada larvae, grasshoppers and cockroaches. Uchiyama touts insects as a more environmentally friendly and healthier protein source than fish.

3 Geoduck

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Pronounced “gooey duck,” this giant saltwater clam is native to the Puget Sound. Resembling a certain male appendage, the geoduck has become a delicacy in Asian countries where it is imported from the United States. Geoduck sushi has a crunchy texture and a strong ocean aroma. New York sushi restaurant Jewel Bako was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern” for its geoduck preparation. The clam is boiled, peeled of its outer skin and sliced carefully to deliver a sweet and briny flavor.

2 Whale

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In Japan, whale meat is easy to come by in certain regions. You can even go to the grocery store and pick up a pack of cured whale bacon for a few yen. In addition to whale sushi, you can find deep-fried whale, grilled blubber and whale skin stew. In the United States, however, serving whale sushi will land you in jail. Such was the case of two chefs at the now-defunct Los Angeles sushi joint The Hump. The duo were charged after an undercover sting revealed they had served meat from the endangered Sei whale. One chef faced a maximum of 67 years for his role in the cetacean conspiracy.

1 Pufferfish

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Known as fugu in Japan, pufferfish is a delicacy that has been enjoyed there for thousands of years. What makes fugu more bizarre than any other raw fish is that it’s packed with a lethal poison called tetrodotoxin. In small amounts, the poison causes a numbing sensation around the lips and throat; in higher doses the poison causes paralysis, seizures and death. However, when prepared properly the poison is removed and fugu is sliced razor thin for sushi or sashimi. Sushi chefs must train for years before they are licensed to prepare fugu, and only a few chefs are allowed to serve it in the United States.

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