It’s Our Turn to Eat: Japanese Restaurant Offers Deep-Fried Piranha

The creature still looks menacing in death. Don't worry, it won't bite you

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National Geographic/Getty Images

A Makah fisherman in Paraguay eats a roasted piranha

There are few fish with as vicious a reputation as the Piranha — those toothy, Amazonian killing machines that, legend has it, can strip a cow to the bone in a matter of minutes. Now, a Japanese restaurant is turning the tables.

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A restaurant called Heaven at the Japanese spa resort Nara Kenko Land is holding a two-month exhibition of “big Amazon mysterious fish,” reports the website RocketNews24, at which visitors can partake of what’s called Pirania No Amazonesu. The ominous-looking piranha is “lightly sprinkled with flour and fried,” reports RocketNews24 — and is served whole, its mouth agape, showing off its jagged teeth.

If only the ferocious piranha tasted a bit better. The fish, when sliced into, reportedly gives off a “foul odor” that makes it difficult to tell what the flesh itself tastes like. Still, a restaurant worker told RocketNews24 that the dish was “pretty popular” and is ordered at least once a day.

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Frying the piranha is not the only way to eat it. In the fish’s native Amazon-basin region, local fishermen reportedly grill them in banana leaves or boil them with tomatoes, making a soup that they believe has aphrodisiac effects. According to National Geographic, fishermen occasionally bear scars from close encounters with those creatures, which usually don’t resort to human flesh unless they are provoked or starved. Still, if you have an open wound it’s unwise to take a dip in the Amazon — as Animal Planet host Jeremy Wade once did — or go on a piranha-fishing tour (yes, it apparently exists); the fish can smell blood from miles away. Wade told Smithsonian that he too had cooked them. According to Wade, the flesh is bony, like “steel wool mixed with needles.”

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If that deters you from ordering the piranha, there are other choices on offer. According to RocketNews24, Heaven also serves an Amazon kyatfisshu burger, made from an Amazonian catfish, which can be washed down with a cup of Brazilian Forest Smoothie, made with umbu, a Brazilian plum rich in vitamin C and minerals.