I always thought these were called pufferfish. But a quick google yielded MY (I forgot I wrote it) old post on these rather huge porcupine fish corrected that impression. Also referred to locally as tagutungan, I saw this man “skinning” these baby specimens of the porcupine fish, so they would be more palatable to buyers who didn’t want to hassle with skinning them.
When asked if he knew how to remove the poisonous part he just shrugged and said these ones weren’t poisonous. Yeah, right. Cebu newspapers are rife with articles every year about folks who eat porcupine fish and poison themselves. But locals say if it’s cooked well, you won’t get woozy. Yet another comforting view. At any rate, the process to skin the fish was cumbersome and I just stood there marveling at his patience and ability to avoid the sharp spines.
He took the skin off in its entirety, and the naked porcupine fish returned to the tile for folks to pick and purchase.
I must say the skinned fish with eyeballs intact look rather freakishly weird.
We have never eaten porcupine fish in the Philippines, but I once was treated to a very formal and extremely expensive business lunch in Korea where they served it and frankly, at the time, it didn’t really seem very special to me at all — just a bit of white fish meat. And to risk death or serious poisoning?, no thanks, I’ll pass on that.