23 Jun2015


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.



  1. EbbaBlue says:


    Jun 23, 2015 | 11:24 pm


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  3. millet says:

    looks like frogs. no, thanks!

    Jun 24, 2015 | 8:19 am

  4. ami says:

    Best to avoid the internal organs as these are the parts that are poisonous.

    Jun 24, 2015 | 9:05 am

  5. Kasseopeia says:

    Pass. (Loving the posts,though. The drought has ended!)

    Jun 24, 2015 | 11:03 am

  6. EbbbaBlue says:

    scared to eat this, Japanese tho loves them.

    Jun 24, 2015 | 11:42 am

  7. Jessica says:

    So glad to see you’ve started posting again! Welcome back!

    Jun 24, 2015 | 5:14 pm

  8. Footloose says:

    Growing up in a coastal community, news of fish poisoning (usually from butete and tulingan) occasionally disturbed day to day living but did not really persuade folks to foreswear the risk. One suspects a callous Spartan-like attitude toward culling the old and the weak who are the usual victims of tainted dishes.

    Jun 24, 2015 | 10:25 pm

  9. sonny sj says:

    I had the chance to taste it in Antique several years ago, skin and all.
    The skin turned gelatinous when cooked. It was delicious!
    Yes, i read somewhere it’s the internal organs that are poisonous.

    Jun 29, 2015 | 11:41 am

  10. Lee says:

    I have heard that tagutungan and its equally unattractive cousin, buriring, are not really poisonous. I would eat this if proven safe.

    Jun 30, 2015 | 9:17 pm

  11. Footloose says:

    Here is a fairly exhaustive treatment of fugu culinary culture of Japan (to which I would still say no, thank you):


    Jul 3, 2015 | 7:55 am

  12. ian says:

    That is one beautiful creature when its alive. They don’t really have meat. But very interesting to look at. Can’t we Pinoy just stop eating anything moving in the air, land and sea? Just stop and let these creatures live.

    Jan 16, 2016 | 7:54 am


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