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Dangerous Dish Needs To Be Eaten Quickly Before It Starts Sucking You

Explore the world of sannakji, a Korean delicacy that is as dangerous as it is unique. This dangerous dish needs to be eaten quickly before it starts sucking you.

Author:Professor Jhiz
Reviewer:Scarlet Sunset
Oct 10, 20231.3K Shares50.3K Views
When it comes to dangerous dining, most people worry about choking or food poisoning. However, a Korean dish called sannakji presents a unique kind of peril that makes it adangerous dish needs to be eaten quickly before it starts sucking you.
This dish involves a live octopus cut into pieces and served immediately, often still wriggling on the plate. What makes it particularly hazardous is the potential for the octopus's active suckers to stick in the diner's throat, causing choking or even death.

The Deep Historical Roots And Complex Preparation Of Sannakji

Sannakji is not just a recent culinary trend but a dish steeped in history. Records show that it has been consumed since the Three Kingdoms period in Korea, as far back as 57 BC. Made from 'nakji', the Korean common octopus, the dish is sometimes misleadingly translated as 'baby octopus.' A more accurate description would be 'small octopus,' particularly when considering the cultural context.
This delicacy is considered a type of Ikizukuri, a Japanese term that means prepared alive. In essence, sannakji is not just raw; it is alive when consumed. It is a dangerous dish needs to be eaten quickly before it starts sucking you.
The octopus is first squeezed to remove the mucus, as it can give a foul taste if not removed. Its head is then severed, often after being butterflied. The legs are subsequently chopped into pieces, and these, along with the head, are immediately served. Sesame oil, sesame seeds, and sometimes ginger accompany the wriggling pieces on the plate.

The Sensory Experience Of Sannakji

For the brave who decide to take a bite, Sannakji isn't just about facing fear; it's a full-blown sensory experience. The dish's flavor profile is unique but subtle. It's an oceanic journey that starts with a fresh, salty taste, with textural elements that are simultaneously slimy and chewy. Traditional accompaniments like sesame oil and seeds, along with red chili paste (gochujang), add nuanced layers of complexity to the straightforward, ocean-fresh taste.
Person's hand using chopsticks to eat Sannakji
Person's hand using chopsticks to eat Sannakji
With globalization, dishes like Sannakji have migrated beyond the borders of Korea. For those eager to try, select Korean restaurants around the world offer this adventurous dish, though there’s a growing debate about how ethically and safely these dishes can be replicated outside their countries of origin. For an authentic experience, one can even visit Seoul's famous Noryangjin Fish Market.

Fugu - A Delicate, Dangerous Delight

Fugu Japanese Dish
Fugu Japanese Dish
The peril of sannakji is rivaled by another dish: fugu, or pufferfish. This fish contains large amounts of a potent poison called tetrodotoxin, found in specific organs like the liver, ovaries, eyes, and skin. The toxin is estimated to be about 10,000 times more poisonous than cyanide and can result in paralysis and death by asphyxiation if ingested.
Fugu consumption is not without its controversies. The fish's liver, intestines, and ovaries are its most toxic parts, but some gourmands consider the liver the tastiest, comparing its flavor favorably to foie gras. However, serving fugu liver has been prohibited in Japan since 1984. A notable incident involving this risky practice led to the death of Japanese actor Bandō Mitsugorō VIII in 1975.
Puffer Fish
Puffer Fish
Despite its hazards, fugu has a strong following. It's usually consumed as sashimi ('fugusashi') or in hotpot dishes ('fuguchiri'). You can even find fugu in supermarkets in Japan, though an incident in 2018 put the town of Gamagori on high alert when a local supermarket sold packs of the fish without removing the livers.
Due to the extreme risksassociated with sannakji and fugu, preparation is highly regulated. In Japan, it's mandatory for fugu chefs to have a special license controlled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In Korea, chefs are trained to cut the octopus into tiny pieces that are less likely to obstruct a diner's airway. Approximately six people die each year from choking on sannakji, underscoring the importance of thorough chewing.

The Real-life Dangers Of Sannakji - Disturbing Incidents

While it's crucial to discuss the history, preparation, and regulations surrounding dishes like sannakji and fugu, it's equally important to recognize the real-world consequences that can occur when things go awry. What follows are two harrowing incidents that demonstrate the life-threatening risks associated with consuming sannakji, as reported by reputable newsoutlets.
In a case that stunned the nation, a woman in South Korea died after eating live octopus, leading to a long-running legal battle involving her boyfriend. According to a report by AsiaOne, the incident took place in April 2010, when a man identified only as Mr. Kim checked into a motel with his girlfriend in Incheon City near Seoul. After purchasing two live octopuses from a local restaurant, Mr. Kim and his girlfriend consumed one. Shortly after, the woman, identified by her surname Yoon, collapsed and stopped breathing. She was rushed to the hospital but died 16 days later.
Initially considered an accident, police were forced to reopen the case when it was revealed that Yoon had taken out a life insurance policy shortly before her death, naming Kim as the sole beneficiary. Kim was convicted of murder in October, with the court citing "compelling indirect evidence," but this conviction was later overturned by higher courts, concluding that the evidence was insufficient.
This incident captivated media and public attention in South Korea, especially because it involved the consumption of a dish known for being a choking hazard. The case brought to light the potentially lethal consequences of consuming Sannakji, while also showcasing complexities around legal responsibility and public safety.

Elderly Man Chokes To Death In Incheon

As reported by The Korea Times, another tragedy occurred in August, when a 71-year-old man choked to death in Incheon after eating a plate of chopped, but still wiggling, octopus. The man was dining in a seafood restaurant and was found to have choked on octopus suckers that blocked his airway. Although an ambulance was called, it arrived too late to save him. The incident, captured on surveillance footage, shows the man suddenly struggling to breathe while eating the octopus.
These incidents underline how Sannakji, while considered a delicacy and a stamina booster, especially during the summer months in Korea, poses a real risk. Police advise consumers to exercise caution, given the potential choking hazards associated with the dish.
These real-life events serve as a grim reminder of the dangers involved in consuming Sannakji. While it may offer an exhilarating dining experience, it's crucial to remember the risks involved and take necessary precautions.
The debate around Sannakji also extends beyond culinary adventurism to questions about legal accountability and consumer safety. It's a dish that exists at the intersection of tradition, thrill, and imminent danger, demanding careful consideration and respect from those daring enough to partake.


What Are The Risks Associated With Eating A Dangerous Dish That Needs To Be Eaten Quickly?

The primary risk is choking, especially if the dish involves live or wriggling ingredients like sannakji, which has active suckers that can stick in your throat. In extreme cases, this could lead to death.

How Do You Eat A Dangerous Dish Quickly Before It Starts Sucking You?

The key is to chew thoroughly, despite the urgency to eat it quickly. Make sure to chew carefully to avoid any choking hazards, especially with dishes like sannakji.

Why Are Dishes Like Sannakji Considered To Be Dangerous?

These dishes are considered dangerous due to their live components that can pose choking hazards. The risk is that it needs to be eaten quickly before it starts sucking you, creating a hazardous eating situation.

Are There Other Dishes Similar To Sannakji?

Yes, fugu or pufferfish is another dish that presents a unique set of risks. However, unlike sannakji, the danger lies in the poisonous tetrodotoxin present in the fish rather than a choking hazard.

Are There Any Safety Measures To Consider?

Absolutely, for dishes like sannakji and fugu, it's crucial to rely on skilled, certified professionals for preparation. Restaurants usually have specific regulations and trained chefs to mitigate the risks.

What Are The Penalties For Improperly Preparing A Dangerous Dish?

In some countries like Japan, you must have a special license to prepare fugu. Failure to comply with regulations could result in heavy fines or even imprisonment.

Is There An Antidote If Something Goes Wrong With Eating A Dangerous Dish?

Unfortunately, there's no known antidote for tetrodotoxin poisoning from fugu. For sannakji, the primary concern is choking, for which immediate medical attention is crucial.

What Kind Of Flavors Can You Expect From A Dangerous Dish?

Often, the flavor is not the main attraction for such exotic dishes. For example, sannakji is more about texture. It's often accompanied by sesame oil and seeds to add complexity to its mild, ocean-fresh aroma.
Despite the risks, these dishes enjoy a certain level of popularity for their unique textures and the thrill they offer. They are considered delicacies and even have cultural significance in places like Korea and Japan.

How Can I Identify Choking Hazards In Food?

Ingredients that are slippery, chewy, or have elements that can stick to surfaces are generally considered choking hazards. Sannakji, with its active suckers, is a prime example.

What Are Lethal Delicacies?

Lethal delicacies are foods that can pose a direct risk to life if not prepared or consumed correctly. Fugu, for instance, contains tetrodotoxin, which is extremely poisonous.

How Does One Approach Dishes With Active Ingredients?

Active ingredients in this context mean components that are still moving or interacting in some way when served, such as the wriggling tentacles of sannakji. Extreme caution and immediate consumption are advised.

Can You Give Examples Of Life-threatening Eats?

Sannakji and fugu are two examples of life-threatening eats that pose choking and poisoning risks, respectively. These dishes should only be prepared by trained and certified professionals.

What Are Extreme Culinary Experiences?

Extreme culinary experiences are those that offer not just unique flavors but also pose a certain level of risk. They are for adventurous eaters willing to face the potential dangers involved.

What Are Perilous Food Practices?

Perilous food practices include the preparation and consumption methods of dishes that have significant safety risks. Chefs specialized in these dishes usually undergo rigorous training.

What Does Gastronomic Dangers Mean?

Gastronomic dangers refer to the risks associated with consuming certain types of food. It encompasses everything from choking hazards to poisoning risks.


When embarking on a culinary adventure filled with extreme flavors and high-risk ingredients, one should never underestimate the importance of safety and preparation. Both sannakji and fugu offer an adrenaline-fueled dining experience that tantalizes the senses, but they come with their set of perils.
Whether it's the risk of tetrodotoxin poisoning from fugu or the choking hazard posed by sannakji, these dishes are not for the faint-hearted. As the saying goes, a dangerous dish needs to be eaten quickly before it starts sucking you—literally and figuratively. Therefore, it's paramount to trust only trained and certified professionals when indulging in such exotic, high-risk gastronomy.
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Professor Jhiz

Professor Jhiz

Professor Jhiz brings fun to teaching anatomy. Born in China, she shares her fascination for how the body works. Students say her lectures are lively with jokes and stories. She draws cartoon diagrams that highlight structures creatively. Professor seeks to inspire curiosity and joy in anatomy. She treats each class like a show using props and costumes. When not teaching, Jhiz enjoys karaoke and novelty socks. Her goal is passing on a spirit of wonder to students.
Scarlet Sunset

Scarlet Sunset

Scarlet Sunset is a captivating and confident transgender individual who radiates sensuality and embraces her unique beauty. With a radiant smile and a touch of red lipstick, she captivates hearts by the poolside as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow on her unforgettable presence. Despite societal norms and expectations, Scarlet celebrates her body, proudly defying conventional standards of beauty. Her curves tell a story of self-acceptance and empowerment, challenging stereotypes and inspiring others to embrace their own bodies without reservation.
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