Eating poisonous puffer fish a centuries-long tradition Centuries ago, poet Mei Yaochen wrote that there was no way to measure how much of a delicacy the puffer fish was, nor did people care how many died eating it. But in Humen, Dongguan, where the fish, also known as the blowfish or globefish, has been consumed for generations, there have been few recent fatalities. The fish, which is 10,000 times deadlier than cyanide, is served at roadside stalls and in expensive restaurants catering to officials who dine at government expense. Each puffer fish, which inflates itself into a ball, extending spiky fins when agitated, has enough poison to kill 30 people. In Guangdong last year, records show that two people died after a blowfish meal on Nansha island in Guangzhou. In comparison, 100 people die each year in Japan where the fish, known as fugu, is a delicacy and chefs are rigorously trained so they do not contaminate the flesh with poison from organs as they are removed. Preparation of the fish is a ritual in Japanese sushi restaurants. But in a restaurant in Nansha, neighbouring Humen, a puffer fish chef sits on a low stool as she slits open the bloated belly of a 300 gram fish with scissors. She then snips off its spiky fins and uses a cleaver to remove the poisonous organs and skin before plunging what remains into a basin of water to clean it. The process takes no more skill or time than it would to clean any other fish. A former Humen fisherman says all fishing folk know how to prepare a puffer fish. 'Puffer fish is the most nutritious fish. We all know how to prepare it at home,' he said. 'It is very poisonous but all you have to do is to make sure that you squeeze every drop of blood out. The best way to eat it is to make it into a soup or congee. We don't eat steamed puffer fish.' Restaurants in Humen and Nansha serve puffer fish in a milky broth, congee, or a hotpot, braised with scallion and ginger, or steamed. At 58 yuan for 500 grams, Humen puffer fish is a steal, costing 10 times less than in Tokyo. But the fad does not appear to have caught on in Guangzhou even though restaurants are constantly offering new dishes. One Nansha restaurant owner said he took puffer fish off his menu after the deaths on the island. The deputy director of Humen's health supervision office, Yuan Zhaohui, said national laws banned trade and consumption of food containing poison but did not name the puffer fish.