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Photo: KANO Tatsuhiko

Abasā is the Okinawan name for the porcupine fish. While it is rarely eaten in mainland Japan, Okinawan people enjoy having abasā in their miso soup. Once you’ve realized just how tasty abasā soup can be, just like squid ink soup, you’ll want to return to Okinawa just to eat it.
 Coming from the same group as the blowfish, its taste is more or less guaranteed. The fish is prepared by removing the skin, then cutting the meat into chunks and adding them to the miso soup. Aside from the tough meat, the flavor of its liver can be as flavorsome as that of the blowfish, anglerfish, or filefish.

In some regions, mugwort leaves are added to the abasā soup. Their bitter and fresh flavor goes well with the abasā meat while acting to neutralize its smell. The fish’s appearance may make people turn away and expect it to taste terrible, but they must let go of their prejudice and try to grasp its amazing taste.
 Abasā can be a great ingredient for yudofu (tofu hotpot), but most likely due to Okinawa’s hot climate, it is never served that way. On the other hand, perhaps the delicate broth of yudofu emphasizes the smell, which can only be neutralized by strong-flavored vegetables like mugwort.