Friday, March 3, 2006

Escolar -- a fish with a caveat

After posting about my new favorite fish, escolar, I got an interesting comment from Another Outspoken Female at Confessions of a Food Nazi. She said that she had this fish in Australia and it has caused her excessive gastric distress. As it turns out she is not alone. Some on-line research revealed that Escolar contains an extremely high level of gempylotoxin, a strong purgative oil similar to castor oil. These large molecules are hard to digest, and may lead to intestinal cramping and diarrhea. In 1992, FDA even advised suppliers not to import it, but it backed off in 1994 and you can now find escolar in many restaurants.

Before you swear to never go near this fish, let me point you to an interesting article on seafoodbusiness.com

It looks like there are 3 things that are important to consuming this fish safely:

  1. Make sure you are buying escolar (not its close relative oil fish that is sometimes sold as escolar). In other words, buy it from a reputable fish monger
  2. Make sure it’s fresh. Due to the high oil content, escolar spoils faster than other fish. So keep it in its packaging sandwiched between ice-packs and cook within 2 days of purchase.
  3. Keep the serving size small. As long as your serving size is 6oz or less, you are not likely to experience any digestive symptoms. This is pretty small – think upscale restaurant, multi-course dinner kind of small. But remember that this is a very filling fish, so you probably don’t want a large serving anyway.

Escolar is becoming very popular with restaurant chefs, and many restaurants in US sell 40-50 portions of it per week without any complaints. So giving this fish a try is not likely to be the most dangerous thing you’ll do in your life. However, try it in small portions the first time to see how it agrees with you, and don’t serve it to people with compromised immune system or digestive problems.

116 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your caveat is fully justified. Several Asian restaurants here in Seattle are substituting Escolar for Chilean Sea Bass and Black Cod on their menus (in some instances without telling their customers). Escolar is much cheaper and is being aggressivley marketed by a few of the local seafood distributors here on the West Coast. One restaurant is currently being sued by a patron that had a severe reaction (while still dining) to this fish.

As a seafood professional with over 16 years in the industry, I would recommned caution. There is a good reason this fish is nicknamed the "castor oil" or "ex-lax" fish.

Another Outspoken Female said...

Hi Helen, thanks for looking further into it. Your post spurred me to do the initial research. I was a bit worried about making a post about diarrhoea being a little indelicate for a foodblog! But such an experience is not forgotten in a hurry. Glad your escolar meal was memorable for all the right reasons :)

Ivonne said...

Helen,

Everytime I visit your site I learn something new. You are an incredible source of information!

Anonymous said...

At a trendy little Hawaiian restaurant in California, Escolar was the special. I'd never eaten it before and it truly was delicious. Like you I thought it might be my new favorite seafood. I checked on-line to make sure I remembered the name correctly and found out about the laxative effect. Okay, that explains why I've been in the bathroom most of the day. Not a good experience, and I certainly won't eat Escolar again. I won't eat at that restaurant again either, and I'll tell them why.

As long as we're on the subject of digestive issues, what about Abalone? Long ago, before it was on the endangered species list, Abalone was a rare and delicious treat at a seafood restaurant or meals with my scuba diving neighbors. But no matter how fresh or how it was prepared (how to put this delicately) I couldn't keep it down. Is it me, or is there something about Abalone and it's effect on delicate diestive systems?

Anonymous said...

Escolar should not be offered on any restaurant menu. "Caution" is hardly the operative word. A friend and I each ate escolar at an upscale restaurant in New Jersey. The fish had been prepared superbly in modest portions and was delicious. Within twelve hours, my friend and I each experienced violent diarrhea. The unpleasantness was truly miserable. Following that initial experience, I explored various postings and other internet alerts. Trust me. This fish is vastly worse than ex-lax or castor oil. If you enjoy violent diarrhea, by all means, go out and order it.

Helen said...

I've been getting many comments after my post on escolar about the dangers of eating this fish. A number of readers suggested that escolar should be outlawed and not served in the restaurants. This got me thinking about this situation, and here are my 2 cents. Some of the fish passed as escolar is really oilfish and serving it as escolar is plain wrong.

If a restaurant is serving you real escolar however, there is still a small chance that your body will react to it very badly. But so would the body of a lactose intolerant person if they were served cheese or ice-cream or any other dairy product that is not uncommon to find on restaurant menu. If you know that you can't digest escolar, don't order it. The problem is that most people find out about their lactose intolerance at home (not in a restaurant), but since escolar is so rare and you are not likely to have tried it before ordering it in a restaurant, it feels only natural to blame the restaurant for this terribly unpleasant experience.

The problem is that many restaurants are not even aware of this problem. So if you had a bad experience, let the chef know and send them some information about this fish. It is very unlikely that they are doing this maliciously and once they are aware of the problem they might investigate whether the fish they are serving is, in fact, escolar. If it is, and it's making their customers sick, I am sure they'd seriously consider taking it off the menu.

Anonymous said...

I bought some fresh escolar and cooked it at home. The next day I had a reaction where gas expelled orange oil to the point where it looked like salad dressing had been poured into the toilet. It lasted two days. I wondered if I should go see the doctor until I googled escolar and saw comments from others. Thanks for relieving my worries about this fish.

whithaus said...

Last night my husband and I enjoyed this very delicious fish without encountering the dreaded side effects. I browned the fish lightly and them sort of poached it in it's own juices until it was done. We ate small portions which were very filling. This is one fish I plan to eat again. I;ve asked my local fish monger to keep getting it ... please!

Helen said...

Hi Whithaus,

Finally -- a positive comment about escolar. So glad you enjoyed it :)

Cheers,
-Helen

Anonymous said...

I tried escolar for the first time this week. I marinated, grilled and served it in fish tacos to my family with two young children. We loved the taste. I served it again a couple of days later. My children hate fish but loved the escolar. I was concerned about the mercury and was checking it out when stumbled upon all this information about the laxative affect. Now I am ambiguous about serving escolar again to my family. We tend to grill and eat smaller portions but I am not sure it's worth taking the risk of giving them something that has a high probability of causing health problems.

Anonymous said...

I bought a pound and a half of it a few weeks ago as our local fish monger had it and recommended it. I had never heard of it before and that's amazing as I used to work for a large fresh seafood wholesaler. I came home and searched the internet and was surprised to find out that it had this "unique surprise' in addition to tasting great but some thought it wasn't the Escolar but it's oily cousin that was the culprit and to beware. I decided to not cook it and froze it. Yesterday I thawed it out and we had it for dinner. First I used Old Bay and a good bit of pepper as a blackening agent and then blackened it on an indoor grill for about 5 minutes per side and then stuck it in the over at 350 for 35 minutes (it's a quite thick steak, nearly two inches I reckon). Well, it tasted wonderful, very buttery. My girlfriend liked it better than myself: "this is the best fish I've ever eaten". We ate about 1.2 pounds of it and she ate more than I did. This morning I feel great and I shouldn't as I drank quite a bit last night. My girlfriend went to the bathroom earlier than usual and now more often that usual!!! Guess it depends on each person's own body as to what will happen. She's also prone to the same dilemna if she eats eggs or very fatty foods. Great site by the way, girlfriend just emailed it to me after doins some research on the fish due to her crappy (laughing here) morning. Also, I had made a sauce for the fish that included a raw egg yolk so perhaps the jury is still out????

Sam said...

hmm this all explains something strange that happened to me after trying escolar for the first time yesterday.

I loved the escolar and did not have too bad of a stomach. Only a 1 minute desperate need to rush there the morning after eating it and be relieved then that was the last of it.

Oh - and the 'orange paint' phenomena too - I experienced that at the same time but frankly forgot all about it til I read this. At least it is now explained..

Anonymous said...

«My local supermarket in Montreal advertised this fish, Escolier noire (in french), in their flyer as a wild fish rich in omega 3, of superiour quality and recognized for its delicate flavour. Looking for a break from salmon, I bought some, then googled Escolar mostly to learn about its mercury content. After reading the comments on this site and others, I decided to give it a try as I tend to have a caste iron stomach. The fish was delicious; I just hope the next 24 hours aren't too exciting.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I just ate some
"escobar" as it was indicated on the plastic freeze package last night. And today, sure enough, both of us had this sort of oily diarrhea. But I would have to say that it had something to do with the fact that we both ate quite a bit of the escobar. I suspect had we ate smaller portions of it, we would not have had any problems.

Anyway, it was quite a good fish, but I don't think I will be eating it again in the near future.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have been eating escolar for years in sushi restaurants throughout the U.S. Just this morning, I was telling a friend of mine about it and we decide to google it and see what type of fish it was. What a suprise we had. I can not think of a single time that we (wife and I) have had any of the symptoms discussed within. I have never eaten it cooked, it has always been raw (generally sashimi). Maybe we are more fortunate than others with our "gastro" tracts. Good luck to all who try this fish, in my opinion it is one of the best fish I have ever eaten (and I live on the coast).

dickrebel said...

A couple years ago, I had an italian dish from a restaruant run by an old italian man and his wife. They had on the menu a black sea bass item poached with tomato and herbs. Was fantastic.

After a couple hours, I experienced violent cramps then what I thought was a regular fart. However it wasn't regular. This orange waxy/oily substance came out with it. I was mortified, I was at work. I coulding keep it in. Every move, every bit of gas, was accompanied with by this nasty substance, which ruined my office chair, and my cordouroys. I had to go home.

I squirted out orange oily mess, stuff that left behind an orangy waxy coating when cooled. NASTY.

I recovered with no ill effects. I havent eaten there again, and I miss it.

For christmas I made a Zuppa de Pesci and they were out of sablefish. So bought escolar, as it sounded good and equivalent.

It was fantastic!

No adverse problems, no waxy excrement, no gastric problems.

So, I suspect, I was served black sea bass, which sometimes mongers have sold Escolar instead, but actually got oilfish!

So, I have returned to my fav lunch joint, and included Escolar (real escolar) as a staple in small quantiites to my diet.

I have yet to experience problems with the fish, however, I am buying from a good monger who knows I'll be back complaining if there is a problem. I am also only using a small amount per serving (1/4 a lb or so).

Escolar tasted great, but be wary!

Oh, and don't trust mongers, they lie like rugs.

dickrebel said...

ARRGH... sorry, I meant to say I was served black sea bass which was actually oilfish!!!

Anonymous said...

Appearantly escolar is being sold as white tuna in sushi restaurants. I was given a free sample with my meal and thought it was incredible. Thankfully the chef was honest when I asked what the fish really was. I would definately recommend this to the sushi addict.

Cindy said...

We ate Escolar at a very upscale restaurant in NYC a few days agao and it was THE best meal I have ever had in my life- and thankfully, no side effects what-so-ever. How weird- do chefs understand that this fish has so much BAGGAGE- I have been raving for days and now worry if I should be singing its praises so loudly?? Eeek!!

Anonymous said...

Well, I purchased a couple of frozen steaks from a supermarket the other day. Being a fish lover, I wanted to try something different and I liked how the dense white meatlooked. I pulled them out of the freezer today. Then now I find out that...we can be in for cleansing out tomorrow.
The skin on the fish smooth and the colour is light to dark brown, (dapple like) there is no scales or barb things. We are still contemplating in cooking it. I think I will pan fry it with rosemary and lemon if we do try it.
But I must say, we enjoy cooking different things. and if I put too much of my hot sauce in, well its off to the bathroom a few extra times the next day. Trying new foods is like travelling at home with all the benifits of being home.

Anonymous said...

I had escolar for the first time today - I had never heard about this kind of fish before. It was delicious, but as it turns out, the degree of bloating I am experiencing actually prompted me to do a google search for "escolar and gas". That's how I came upon this article! I can fully attest to the caveat....

;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I ate escolar yesterday and googled it to get the calorie/nutrition info and came across this information. Needless to say, I then realized why I had the sudden bathroom urge within an hour of eating the fish. The next morning I took our dog on a walk and low and behold had the surprise yellow oil. Gross! Thank goodness I was by myself and not at work. I still feel sick today (over 24 hours later) and will never eat the fish again (did call the restaurant to "warn them").

denmary said...

Live in Portland OR. Had escolar last night. Diarrhea today! Small Portion and grilled so I think I will get off easy. I,m sensitive anyway so I didn't find out until I wanted to find out what escolar looked like. Now I know and won't eat it again. Dennis

PS will pass info to reasturant so that they know

Anonymous said...

I, too, have suffered the, ahem, orange oil farts following an extremely enjoyable and well-prepared serving of escolar from Flying Fish. It really is too bad that this is a side effect of eating this fish because it is soooo good and rich. A lot like my favorite fish, black cod/sablefish/butterfish.

Stef said...

is escolar the same as gindara? or gindara is sablefish? anyway, they have the same effect (the orange oil) and it's kinda weird. so i'm glad that you wrote about it.

here in the philippines, people actually like the effects of escolar/gindara because it helps them lose weight. personally, i love eating gindara (even if i had known about the effects long before, just not enlightened to why it's like that), it's really tasty.

Helen said...

Hi Stef,

Wow, I would have never thought someone would find such unpleasant side effects desirable, but what won't people do to lose weight :)

Fish names are very regional and thus confusing. But technically, escolar and sable are completely different fish. Of course, some fish markets in the world might sell escolar as sable and sable as escolar. But these two are not related whatsoever.

Cheers,
-Helen

Anonymous said...

I had escolar last night and now I've suddenly got a Jackson Pollock painting on my living room floor!

Anonymous said...

Well, I had escolar last week.

Beforehand, my carpet was light beige. Now it's slick and yellow!

hm69 said...

I too had escolar, or what was called on the menu, super white tuna. I loved it. It was served as sushi. Later in the evening my friend who was dining with us mentioned that he felt the pre-"rhea" symptoms, but blamed it on the dble scoop of super fat/creamy homemade icecream we had later for dessert, as he is slightly lactose intollerant. His wife and I who also ate the escolar had no symptoms last night, however this morning I was a little "looser" than usual... ;) I will order it again, as I found the buttery flavor, soft/buttery texture delectable! they say not to eat more than 6.0 oz. we ate much less that that per portion.

Rachel said...

I'm from the Philippines, and I hated what 'Black Cod/Gindara' (least that was what the menu has termed) has made me experienced-- the nasty orange oil gas excretion.

It must be an exaggeration then, to term that we (Filipinos) liked the association of orange oily excretion to losing weight. Must have been because of Xenical's popularity though .

I had it at an upscale Serendra resto, and had I known about it, I wouldn't have ordered the fish.
Never again!

Anonymous said...

From Chicago, there is a great upscale-but-not-too-pricey sushi place here that has escolar on it's menu. I finally had to google it because it's the only thing on the menu not translated.

a friend tried it upon rec from the sushi chef, and loved it, passed it on to us. we each usually have one piece of escolar sushi, and none of us have had any issues. it is kind of gross that it's called snake mackerel though...

Anonymous said...

Hello there folks!

Like a couple of people who left comments, I too have been eating Escolar for quite a long time, howerver, in SUSHI Restaurants and raw, raw, raw!

Salmon has always been one of my favorite fish due to the high fat content and the buttery smooth texture it has as sashimi, but when i tried Escolar "White Tuna" In my local sushi bar, it QUICKLY became my favorite sashimi (along with Salmon, Hamachi, Garlic Albacore and Toro, heh. Can we see i love fatty fish?)

At any rate, i've never had any trouble with this fish, though my body and digestive track is quite a bit different then most folks as i've had a weight loss surgery, which means i don't actually digest fats any more like a normal perosn would. I even have to take special vitamins which put all the fat soluble vitamins in a water soluble form so my body can access its nutrients.

This also means fatty stuff i eat passes right through me, not violently, but certainly not like a normal person. I also don't have my gall bladder any more, which may have something to do with my reaction (or lack of a reaction) to this fish.

Basically, if you want to try this fish, go to a sushi bar that serves it. you WILL be pleasantly surprised, and enjoy it to no end I think keepin it raw is likely to minimize the effects for a lot of people according to all the stories i've heard.

Otherwise, try it in small doses, its an incredible fish, but like some one said before some peopel cant eat dairy or eggs, some people are allergic to crab - take your time, eat small amounts until you see how you handle it.

Be well folks!

Anonymous said...

I had escolar from a medium to upscale resturant in Singapore it was falsely called on the menu Hawaiian butter fish within 4 hours I experienced oily orange diarrhea, discharge/leakage from the rectum that smelt of mineral oil. The discharge stained my clothing and occured without warning.

My doctor told me the oil pools in the rectum and cause frequent urges for bowel movements due to its lubricant qualities and may be accidentally discharged by the passing of gas. Symptoms may occur over a period of one or more days. Other symptoms may include stomach cramps, loose bowel movements, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. My doctor also warn4ed that Pregant women, children, old people, those with a weak imune system, those who are ill or sickly should never eat Escollar, so if you see Hawaiian butter fish, butter fish, white tuna whixch it is sometimes called steer clear of it.

Incidentally escolar has been banned from consumption in Japan since 1977, as the Japanese government considers it toxic. It has also been banned in Italy. In 1999, the Swedish and Danish National Food Administrations informed fish trade associations and fish importing companies about the problems escolar and related fish could cause if not prepared properly and issued recommendations.

In early 2007 after a public outcry and receiving consumer complaints about mislabeled fish and conducting an investigation, the Hong Kong government's Centre for Food Safety recommended that escolar not be used for catering purposes, advised clear labeling and identification of fish species before sale, purchase of fish from reliable sources, and recommended that consumers become aware of the possible health effects of consumption of escolar, oilfish, and related species. The Hong Kong government has established a working group comprised of members of the academia, trade and consumer group to prepare guidelines for assisting the trade and consumers in identifying relevant species of fish.

In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after receiving complaints about diarrhea associated with escolar consumption, issued a bulletin recommending against import of the fish in the early 1990s. However, the FDA backed away from this recommendation and withdrew the bulletin several years later after deciding the fish was nontoxic and nonlethal.

In mid-2007, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, after investigating cases of diarrhea caused by mislabeled fish, decided not to ban escolar or oilfish but instead issued a fact sheet noting the potential adverse effects of consumption and recommending that consumers speak with their retailer, verify fish species and consume the fish in small portion size using preparation methods that reduce oil content. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walu

Anonymous said...

I'm a chef in columbia sc. i sell escolar at least every other week. people rave constantly and say its the best fish they've ever tasted. one couple even said it was so good they were curious if it was legal. i have yet to hear anyone complain about gastric problems. i sell this stuff hand over fist. i believe if you remove the blood line, and cook it properly it reduces the risk of oily poo. if you choose not to eat escolar because of the internet hype you read, you are seriously missing out. i would serve this fish to my parents without thinking twice. by all means, dont deprive yourself of an outstanding fish.

jstaub said...

I cooked escolar last night by pan searing it and baking it at 450 degrees until the internal temperature was 140 degrees. The result was perfect; my wife and I thought it was the best fish we had ever eaten. So far (16 hours after consumption) we have not experienced any of the problems mentioned in the posted comments. Unless there is a delayed reaction, I plan to cook this fish again.

Jim

Anonymous said...

I am a server at an upscale restaurant in Los Angeles, and we serve Escolar as a special. I've never heard someone complain about the fish, peopple love the taste of it. Maybe because we serve it in proper serving size, and perhaps it is the real Escolar fish...

Anonymous said...

This is the second time that I have eaten Escolar. However this time I did get a reaction. The orange oil floating in the head has now been explained. I probably ate about 12 ounces. Still, I enjoyed it, the fish that is.

Anonymous said...

I've been eating Escolar in sushi bars for 5-6 years now. It's passed off as "white tuna". Never had any issues that I know of.

I did buy a half pound portion recently and prepared it at home (seared and finished in the oven). I didn't notice anything extreme but it did have an effect on me. Without getting into the details I would agree that the oils cannot be processed by the body. Seemed pretty evident to me at the time.

Anonymous said...

We had escolar for the first time a few nights ago. We had no problems. It was about an inch thick cut. I prepared it by broiling it some six inches from the broiler for six minutes, then closed the oven door and let it roast for another six minutes. It was great!

Stueve said...

i frequently order escolar (often billed as "super white tuna") in sushi shops on the west coast and i've never had any problem whatsoever. maybe the portion is too small or my system is robust enough to avoid trouble, but i will most definitely be ordering escolar again. i think it's one of the most delicious fish out there in terms of sushi / sashimi!

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend tried escolar, or what was labeled escolar at a chinese restaurant.
We had the oily waxy explosion about an hour after dinner.
Now that we know what to expect, escolar has become our special dinner before an evening of unusual activities. No other lube is needed.

Anonymous said...

i got 'sick' from this 2 years ago, twice! anyway, just found out that white tuna, served as sushi, is escolar/hawaiian butterfish. there is no such thing as white tuna. it's butterfish. stay away.

Helen said...

sorry you got sick from escolar :( Although escolar is sometimes marketed in sushi restaurants as "White tuna", on the west coast, "white tuna" often refers to albacore tuna that has no relation to escolar.

Cheers,
-Helen

Thomas said...

In restaurants and in commercial fishing, several fish species, not closely related to the Stromateidae, are also called "butterfish", including the escolar, sablefish, rudderfish, and oilfish. Of these, escolar and oilfish contain approximately 20% (by weight) of indigestible wax ester. This wax ester causes an oily orange anal discharge and other short-lived gastrointestinal problems in some individuals.

Anonymous said...

Had an escolar sandwich yesterday in Nokomis, FL, and it was so good I Googled it and found this site. I've had no side effects, and will definitely have it again.

Hemlock3630 said...

Interesting information. I was searching for "Super White Tuna" knowing that it wasn't really tuna. All i have to say is Super White Tuna (Escolar)is my hands down favorite sashimi. Soft and buttery. Great pressed against a lemon wedge before eating. Never had a reaction to it, neither has my husband.

Anonymous said...

I work in an upscale restaurant, and Escolar was ran as a special about 2 years ago. Up until 2 nights ago, that had been the only time I'd ever tried it...and boy did I love it!

No side affects the first time, but sure enough, this time, "code orange". Despite the oddness and slight annoyance of the side effects (thankfully I was at home), I would definitely eat it again. And if dining out, I would just make sure to pay the bill and leave promptly ;)

Anonymous said...

I had escolar for the first AND last time last night. I ended up in the emergency room!!! It caused severe gas pressure in my stomach creating a VasoVagal reaction, which resulted in my fainting at the restaurant. Paramedics came took me to the ER.
I haven't experienced the "other effects" yet, but am looking forward to the Orange Rush!!!
Jo in Denver

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where I can purchase escolar either frozen or fresh, sashimi or cookable sort in NJ? I can find sashimi grade in New York but it's such a trek. Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

Escolar - I absolutely love it.

I do not typically respond to fatty foods because I eat fatty foods...or used to. For the last two weeks I have been eating lean proteins and lots of fruits and veggies. For the first time ever, I had a mild reaction to the escolar we ate last night. (Not enough to never eat it again) I only consumed 4.5 oz, but today I was surprised in that I have never reacted to it before. Maybe if your body is used to eating fats, it will affect you less than someone who eats a leaner diet.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog... I didn't realize that escolar had such laxative qualities and that people were so uncomfortable with a little QT on toilet after a eating good tasting food yet were so eager to describe it in such great detail. If I were this way I'd never eat Mexican or Japanese Hot Pot again (That Korean Kimchi gets me every time, I guess I'm a glutton for punishment)

That said, I've never had this issue with escolar and think it's a fantastic fish. Encrusted in a little panko,seared and roasted with an orange beurre blanc. Yummy. I wait tables at an upscale restaurant that serves it as a special periodically and am unaware of any complaints. I'll keep it in mind though.

j13piper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
j13piper said...

I had great escolar at the Red Fin in downtown Seattle last Saturday. I was with 5 other people, we each had one sashimi piece. NO ONE experienced any bathroom issues in the morning and we all actually agreed that it was in the top 3 of the sashimis we tried that night :)

Anonymous said...

I have been eating Escolar for about 2 years, and I must say I have had a quick bout every time I eat SUSHI period. But hey we drink, get hung and we all no what those side affects are, but we still do it. So cheers, heres to a catching a buzz and eatin some TUNA!!

Anonymous said...

I have been eating Escolar for about 2 years, and I must say I have had a quick bout every time I eat SUSHI period. But hey we drink, get hung and we all no what those side affects are, but we still do it. So cheers, heres to a catching a buzz and eatin some TUNA!!

Anonymous said...

escolar is not edible. we do not eat this fish in Japan. please don't ruin our culture.

Leela said...

2 nights ago, my father cooked some fish that he was VERY excited about... I recall him mentioning that it was from Hawaii... I don't know if he was right. Anyways, I ate a bite and thought, "This is AMAZING!" I devoured my piece.
My mom isn't a huge fish eater, and she was just kind of pushing it around her plate. So I, of course, said, "If you're not gonna eat it, I will!!!"

So I ate her piece (in addition to mine). The next day, we went to the Olive Garden. I usually eat very, very low fat (my dad had 1 1/2 heart attacks). So I kind of splurged in a food way and had the 5 cheese ziti. The next morning, I'm guessing b/c of the fish, I faced the consequences....

And it hasn't stopped! HELP! HOW DO I GET RID OF IT?????

Anonymous said...

Our country club offers this frequently and I always order when I'm aware of its availability. Have never experienced unpleasant effects in past year while eating perhaps 15-20 times. Guess I'm lucky or have that oft referred -to cast iron stomach.

Anonymous said...

Holy mackarel! This is like one of my favorite fishes to eat!! Here in Hawaii we call it butterfish. My dad was very fond of this (his style: water broth of tomatoes, onions, ginger, and a little salt and pepper along with 4-6 patties) and because of that I too. Well today as I was disrobing, I let out a little fart and didn't feel a thing until from a side eye view to my mirrored closet I noticed a big brown wet spot on my bvd's!!! I kinda had a feeling to go though. I'm glad I was safe at home and not in some traffic jam or heaven forbids, at church in an all white suit!!! This is the first time in my life this has happened to me. I've had large portions before with no problems. I just had a couple of inch thick patties pan fried with side kim chee, chap chae, bean sprouts, choy sum, served with 2 scoops rice. I had this at my friends "new" Korean restaurant. This is the third time I've had it here. The first 2 times It was a single big patty. The 3rd was so generous I even left more tip than usual:) It get's interesting here. The funny thing is a couple of days prior I actually helped carry it into the restaurant kitchen, about 60 lbs. worth!!! What's more is that I actually advised several weeks before that butterfish is a good money maker here as Hawaiians or shall I say locals love to eat it and don't mind paying the $9.95 a plate. Anyway I'm relieved to find this topic and found it most amusing and informative:) I guess I just have to ride this one out and perhaps warn my friend of my "trip":) No doubt that I was not the only one affected:) Now that I think about it I scuffed that plate along with a tall can of Arizona green tea in about 12 minutes flat as I was late for work. Taking my time and chewing well may have made all the difference:) Some temperance should have been practiced too as that plate could have served 2 people easily:)

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

Went to a new Sushi bar, and ordered toro. Waitress apologized that they were out, but suggested I give escolar a try. It was fantastic! Oh, and no gastric issues ensued.

Brett

Peter said...

I am the chef at a farm to fork school in CT. I looked into escolar a few weeks ago & sampled some, My kitchen loved it. We served it to 250 people for lunch ar 3oz portion size. Kids wnt crazy for it & no side effects! I will serve again. P

jur9en said...

Have a look at Wikipedia article, since the fish is banned for consumption in Japan, Italy and Hong Kong.

Wikipedia - Escolar

Anonymous said...

Escolar has been my favorite type of sushi since the first time I tried it. I've only had it at two upscale sushi restaurants and I have never had any side effects. I was actually surprised to hear about the "bathroom side effect". Maybe it is the other "oilfish" that causing most of the problem. Thats why I only eat sushi if I have the money to go to really nice place. There's nothing worse that cheap sushi...And Escolar should definitely NOT be outlawed. I would be sad

Anonymous said...

This fish should be banned, more so the people that sell it fraudulently should be banned. I purchased dory and when i cooked it, noticed that it tasted a little different (yes more pleasant). But after eating a decent portion, I am now ill, and my work is down on productivity because of fraudulent sale. When I buy a Ferrari i don't expect Hyundai. I / my company should sue.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOOOVE the escolar! I've never eaten it cooked though! I always get 6 pieces of escolar sashimi with spicy ponzu sauce! Yes I have in fact had the...erm...sudden orange oily stuff...but you know what? It's not bad to cleanse your colon out once and a while and it's so good thats a minor mishap to deal with! I'm a weird-o though! I couldnt imagine not ever eating escolar sashimi again!

marcus said...

escolar is in the snake mackerel family. They are seldom good eating. to know that diners are selling escolar as other fish, notably black sea bass, is a disgrace. It has never given me the runs, but thats because im used to eating wild caught fish.

If i order albacore and get this fish instead, im going to freak out and start yelling at all the staff.

Anonymous said...

For those considering trying escolar, heed all warnings (which my fishmonger posted for the fish).Some tips, don't wear light colored pants to work the next day, be prepared to leave work early. My wife had a mile case of diarrhoea but i had the unpleasant bloomin onion effect. nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I have had escolar sushi with no incident. Maybe it's because I ate only two pieces, but to me one shouldn't be eating a whole lot of the same thing when eating sushi. Variety is the best part.

It's not something I'd buy a slab of and cook at home, but it's perfectly delicious and safe to have a few escolar sushi pieces.

cam said...

I love escolar! I had a couple sashimi pieces. one of my favorite fish. i have yet to eat the medical amount. so far i have had no problem with a few raw pieces.

Anonymous said...

Escolar should not be served. Period. I have experienced severe effects from this fish. Eat with caution!

Anonymous said...

Every weekend I go to my local fish market and purchase Fresh Fish. This weekend he had a huge plate of "Escolar" in the case. I asked what it was and he told me it was similar to swordfish and recommended that "butterfly" it if I plan to grill it due to its thickness. It was without doubt the BEST fish I have ever had. I grilled it with lemon and black pepper and it was delicious!

The following morning I had this sudden urge to use the bathroom. When I ever turned to see whatat was in the toilet, I thought I was would die. Large orange oil droplets. The 2nd day was just as bad and I hope its gone by tomorrow because I am going on vacation. :)

I had been searching online for "orange oil in stool" and I assumed it was the Ruffles low-fat chips that caused it so I was done. Then I was curious about that fabulous fish I had the day prior and I searched for "Escolar fish" and BAMM! Here I am, working from home because I don't want to fart and shit my pants. I will be following up with my local fish market to let them know what this fish did to me. He is a fisherman and should have known the side effects. As disgusting as what exploded out of me, I am glad I had the pleasure of tasting such a yummy fish.

Oh and I had White Tuna sushi in FL a few years ago and I loved it! Thankfully, it didn't have the same effect on me.

Anonymous said...

Never again - orange oily diarrhea and stained underwear and chairs are never worth a tasty meal. Sorry but I will NEVER be eating this fish ever again.

David Barker said...

I have had colon surgery which resulted in 6ft of my large intestine being removed and normally, I am not affected by foods but if I am, it happens more quickly than to someone with a normal intestinal system.
I had escolar for the first time at today in a restaurant at Half Moon Bay and four hours later I was running to the toilet. The fish was wonderful but it certainly had an effect on me!

Anonymous said...

My local hawaiian fish monger told me to boil it first for 30 minutes to get the oils out. THEN cook as desired. This, she said, will keep me from getting the runs.

Anonymous said...

I just had some Escolar at our local restaurant and my reaction was very different than any I've seen on your blog. First my lips started to burn. My friend and I thought it might be the garlic pesto on the fish. By the time I was leaving the restaurant, I was feeling slightly strange. My cheeks and chest got bright red and by the time I reached home 10 minutes later, my heart rate was through the roof. I drank lots of water and took an aspirin. I started shaking and my fingers got cold. Finally after an hour, my symptoms stopped. I have never had any allergies. I did not have any gastric distress at all. When I went back to speak to the restaurant manager, she was quite sure that I had an allergic reaction to this fish. Sorry, but I think a fish that has been banned previously, is banned in Japan as being toxic should not be served or at the very least should come with a warning label. My friend had no reaction at all beyond the burning lips. But suppose one of us couldn't finish our portion and the other one finished it off, therefore eating more than we are supposed to!!! Ban the fish!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys (and girls!),
I bought frozen fish steaks recently, labeled "Butterfish (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum)". I was curious, as it looked very good.
On Friday, I unfroze two parts of it, fried on a pan with some spices and eaten with potatoes. Wow, it was by far the best fish I've ever had!
On Saturday afternoon, however, I was slightly alarmed by the "orange oily" problem. When I got up today (Sunday), it was even worse! I started to be really afraid of some intestinal infection.

In the afternoon, just out of curiosity, I looked up the "Lepidocybium flavobrunneum" on Wikipedia (without any hunch it could be the cause of my problems!) - and there it was - Escolar, butterfish, whatever you call it...

Man, was I relieved!
I immediately checked the label - and it clearly says: "Boil at least for 20 minutes".
Well, my bad. I didn't.

Now it's Sunday about 9 PM and the problem finally seems to slowly
fade away. I still have about half the original amount of the fish in the freezer. Now, knowing what it can do, I will be more careful preparing the fish next time, but I will surely try again!

In my opinion, this fish should not be banned (it's far too delicious and after all, it would be unfair to all those people who have no problem digesting it!), but the fish SHOULD be clearly labeled with a description of this potential problem and an instruction on how to avoid it (however it could discourage a lot of people). That would be fair.

People should not be forced to rely on Google with this :-)

MiC

idil said...

The effects of this fish sounds just like the same ones I experienced from zenical and alli. Hmmmm wondre if we will get a "less expensive " fish oil pill on the market.

Douglas said...

I almost bought some Escolar in my local fish market last night. It looked very good and was labeled, "also known as 'white tuna'." I was curious about this fish and wanted more information before trying it. I was primarily concerned about its Mercury content (still have not seen anything about that), but I am certainly glad that I researched it first!

I am very surprised that it is banned in Japan where they eat virtually anything that comes from the sea, including Fugu, or blowfish which is HIGHLY toxic (read: fatal) if not properly prepared.

I believe that I will try this fish, after questioning the fish monger to ensure that it is not mislabeled. I will however proceed with caution when preparing and consuming it.

Anonymous said...

My Japanese mom first found frozen steaks of this fish at a local Asian supermarket and we've been eating this fish occasionally for months. I think it's delicious and have experienced no ill effects... but good to know, all the same.

Josue said...

One time I ate an escolar plate from a sushi place, just escolar...I love the taste. It was during my lunch break. When I returned to my cubicle I was a little gassy and let some farts go. Big mistake! I smelled a pungent oily smell, like crap and battery acid. The smell followed me everywhere; I checked my shoes, clothes and nothing. When I went to the restroom, the smell followed me. I put two and two together: an oily discharge seeped out with the farts and onto my pants. (later on I discovered it was on my cubicle chair.) To make a new story short, I had to go buy new slacks, underwear, and I changed my oiled chair with the one that a co-worker that I didn't like had.

Anonymous said...

Escolar, or butterfish or buttermackerel as it is called here in the Netherlands, was recommended to my mother as part of her diet to support her cancertreatment (she has to eat a lot of fat fish). My parents both love this fish. they eat it grilled in serving of about a 150 grams. They have had no problems at all. All the same i have warned them about the possible side effect.My parents and i will continue eating butterfish/escolar but in appropiate portions and well grilled. Don't use the baking fat (or cooking juices) for anything else.

arparp said...

Escolar itself can cause problems, the blame cannot be pinned entirely on the oilfish.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I had this fish last Friday and it was wonderful! Then by the time we got home her stomach was very upset. I decided today to look up this fish I'd never eaten or heard of before and i find that it regularly causes stomach issues for those who eat it. Why would any restaurant use this stuff?

Anonymous said...

I ate one pound of this fish deep fried--I'm not kidding. I had an upset stomach for a few hours afterward but no other problems.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Escolar fan, especially in sushi. I was warned about it prior to first trying it, so I made sure I was close to the hotel when I ordered it on vacation. I've never had a problem - it seems to affect some people and not others.
If it doesn't disagree with your system it's an amazing food - give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting my mind at ease... I had a surprise dinner- the plate I decided to order had escolar on it. The serving size was pretty small considering I had a surf and turf plate. Naturally, ordering the plate was the first time I have heard of this fish - so I searched online. Up to finding your website, I was becoming concerned regarding my choice. Now my hope is that the restaurant does have a reputable fish monger. If not, I guess I will know within a few days. :)

Anonymous said...

Reading this on thecan...thank god for mobile internet..atleast I can surf the web today

Anonymous said...

My wife and I enjoyed a spice rubbed preparation of escolar at a seafood restaurant in New Orleans yesterday. The fish was moist and flakey. The portions were about and 1 inch thick and approximately 6 oz. The fish was superb and we experienced none of the after effects that other have reported. I look forward to having escolar again soon.

SaraToday said...

The sushi restaurant I ate at last night (in Minneapolis) is serving escolar under the name White Tuna (even though that name is usually used for Albacore). While I'm glad to be able to order escolar again, and have never had any digestive problems with it, I'm not in favor of the sneaky rebranding.

Pablo Escolar said...

@Sarah:

I find it is pretty rare that White Tuna is actually albacore. I know it is supposed to be White Tuna = Albacore and Super White Tuna = Escolar, but that is rarely the case. I wrote about Escolar and the whole Escolar Vs. Albacore (White Tuna) mixup a bunch. It is pretty amazing how confusing it gets.

Anonymous said...

Here in Hawaii, we've been seeing this fish on supermarket shelves under the name "walu" or "Hawaiian butterfish". It's definitely different from the fish we usually know here as butterfish (also called sablefish or black cod). I think the unfortunate folks in the Philippines were misled by their fishmongers/suppliers into thinking butterfish/sablefish is the same thing as escolar, because it is clearly not. If you have lived in Hawaii for any length of time, butterfish (sablefish) is almost like a staple fish; it's everywhere. Having consumed mass quantities of butterfish/sablefish all my life with no ill effects, a couple years ago I figured I'd try this "Hawaiian butterfish" to see if it was any good. I prepared about 10 oz. of it in the local Japanese "misoyaki" style (marinated in miso, which is a fermented soybean paste, sugar, sake and ginger), and immediately found it to be superior in both flavor and texture to my beloved butterfish.

Boy was I surprised the next day. Pretty much what most "victims" have decribed, except my effluent was more yellow/greenish than orange. I was fascinated and disgusted by the little globules of oil in the toilet, and believe me, that stuff does NOT wash out easily! The problem subsided in about two days, and I've been leery about walu (and been eating "normal" butterfish instead) ever since. But it tasted SO DARN GOOD! Being a glutton for punishment, I think next time I will try boiling the oil out of it for 20 minutes before the actual "cooking".

Mike said...

I came across "white tuna" in a japanese restaurant when on a visit to NY last year.
I have to say that along with Toro, it is probably my favourite type of Sashimi
I made sure to always order it on a further 2 trips to NY which saw me on more than a couple of occasions eating 6- 8 pieces in a sitting and fortunately I never experienced any negative side effects

Sadly, here in the UK it doesn't seem to be on offer in any restaurant so I look forward to future visits to the States to load up on it again

Thomas Joseph Foronda, PT, DPT, CWS, FACCWS said...

Ok I had Escolar sashimi from a pretty classy restaurant in Alameda, CA... 3 days after here I am with "leakage"... gosh. But it's tolerable.. I remember having this last time in the Philippines after eating a fish the market people called Gindara... I loved that fish! but it did cause this "leakage". My question is, are these from the fish and/or they also remove the fat from the body? Because if it will make me thinner I will eat Escolar and Gindara allday... hahahaha

Anonymous said...

I just tried this disgrace in an Air France flight from Singapore to Paris. It is much worse than announced. This thing comes out from you even by just walking around, as if you were a kid with no control of your sphincter

Anonymous said...

Two days ago, I unwittingly had a big piece of it, described as sea bass. Explosive diarrhea that night and the next day, I had to leave behind the most exciting pro tennis match I've ever had the chance to see in person because of the mess in my pants.
F--- escarole, truly.

Anonymous said...

Just returned from a trip to NOLA. At the recommendation of a local, tried Rio Mar and had Escolar. Truly a fabulous dining experience!!! No adverse effects only a strong craving to return and repeat the experience.

Anonymous said...

i am from Los Angeles and i'm writing this comment while expecting another oil leak soon... i mean, it's not painful, not the type of painful diahrea but it's still disgusting... i have to wash my whole lower body everytime after i poo...and i have to wipe the toilet too.... i am a naked sleeper and now i am forced to wear an underwear at home so i don't ruin my second bed sheet......

however, after reading this post i try to remember.... and it is kinda true that the taste of this fish is great and it's unique texture allows you to cook it in various ways, as opposed to black cod which is boring to cook.

i think i will eat this fish again in smaller portion and better preparation, but i want to F--- smash the orange oil out the the Chinese supermarket(although it's been my favorate grocery), because the packege had both English and Chinese lable on it. the chinese label was Taiwan Codfish...and it tricked me... but i can't complain to them because the English was correctly labled as escolar.... so wtf....guess i have to blame myself for being too Chinese...

Anonymous said...

We tried escolar for the first time a week ago when I saw it at the grocery store and it was half the price of halibut. The fish monger told me it was "like sea bass". I grilled it and the whole family -- me, hubby, and two teen sons -- raved about how delicious it was.

We grilled it again for dinner tonight, and again we all loved it.

Then I googled it. Oh dear!

So far though, no one has reported any problems. So do we get it again, or not?

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the taste of escolar and have had it on many occasions. I had heard about the side effects if you eat over 6 ounces, but had not experienced them....until 2 days ago. I ate 4 ounces grilled and had a bad reaction yesterday and today. The reaction will pass (no pun intended). The taste is wonderful, but I am not sure it is worth the side effect.

Anonymous said...

i love this fish. It's very very tasty. However, I take extra care in preparing it. I normally boil the fish first with onions, garlic and soup stock for flavor. Boiling it first leaches most of the oil out.

Then I take out the fish and discard the oily water. I either make now boiled fish into a very popular soup dish here in the Philippines called Sinigang (Sour Soup) or grill, bake or steam it.

The oily effects are very very minimal. Boiling it a second time or baking, steaming or grilling it further leaches the oil out.

I would never fry it unless I want to be crapping so much oil.

Anonymous said...

I've eaten escolar at least 6 times in this last year alone. Every time I've had it it has been at the same restaurant in 5-6 oz portions. I have NEVER had a problem with it, EVER. It is my absolute favorite and I will certainly continue to eat it.

Anonymous said...

I have eaten gindara (not sure if the same with escolar) several times before as it was one of the best tasting fish ever I had.

I had this orange oily bouts before but I can't remember if I had gindara to cause those until a few days ago when I had it again. This time I am quite sure it was the gindara fish that caused it.

But so what ... it's delicious. I just have to probably eat this fish on a weekend where I know I'll be staying home.

To add, I also have bouts with frequent constipation and seems gindara or whatever it is called could be the cure for it! Haha.

Heather said...

This is hands down my favorite fish! Maybe I have a cast-iron stomach but my friends and I have all had it several times (maybe the beauty of living in California). I REQUESTED it for my brother's rehearsal dinner (I'm hosting) and am only now learning of it's reputation! Crazy. Will bring antihistamines and depends, I guess :)

Anonymous said...

In a very trendy California restaurant in Capitola, I ordered "butterfish. It was delicious. 2a hours later I had 3 horrible days of oily diarrhea. I thought I had a pancreatic disease. I saw a doctor about this, but she did not know anything about it. Then in an internet search I found out about Escolar. I contacted the restaurant, but they ignored my emails, letter and phone calls.

I just saw that a another trendy restaurant in Napa is serving this fish. We have reservation to go there next weekend, but now I am turned off. New Zealand has banned this fish as being too dangerous for human consumption as a large percentage of the population cannot tolerate its oily content. For the rest of the population, not harmed by this fish, yes, it is a delicious treat. Should restaurant serving this fish be willing to take the gamble that their customers are immune to this problem?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Just wanted to say that i am a seafood monger here in Brisbane Australia, and escolar is one of my best selling fish.. My hubby and i eat it all the time, then one day a customer of mine brought a piece of escolar 2 days in a row. and came back saying that it has made her sick..but that was the only complant that i have had on the fish.. You can only have small amounts of escolar at a time..The thing know is do i keep selling escolar.??? Cheers Tina

Anonymous said...

Escolar can be more than a nuisance, at least to me. In 1984 I ate some escolar at Cafe Pacific in Dallas. I barely had enough time to make it to Presbyterian Hospital, where the nurse in emergency could see the rash that started at the top of my head and was now down to my chest, my blood pressure was dropping fast causing me to move in and out of conciseness. four nurses and an ephedrine drip saved my life. Back then all I could find out about escolar was that it was in the mackerel family. Now I find escolar is being passed off as many different fish. Its good to know, but I'd really like to know how I can identify escolar without going into anaphylaxis.

Helen said...

it often goes under the name of "white tuna." you can also identify it by snow white flesh and rich taste.

Alex said...

A couple things to mention here:

Nearly every site discussing Escolar stresses eating less than 6 oz the most. That said, a 6 oz piece of fish is a little smaller than most portions you would get in a restaurant. So, I would recommend to every human that they not try to consume a filet of this fish at all.

For you sushi lovers, this fish is simply the best! It is "super" white and has a buttery taste, which is the easiest way to identify it.

I would not put it in sushi rolls (rather eat it nigiri style) as it is easiest to eyeball the volume.

I have had Escolar two times now and have had no problems. I actually intend to use it in my home made sushi the next go around (I have prepared homemade sushi more than a dozen times now without an incident).

BTW, the key to homemade sushi is getting FRESH fish. Don't try to use fish from a place like Jewel or Ralph's to do this.

Anonymous said...

Just had escolar for the first time. 3 pcs of sashimi. I asked the waiter what it was after i ate eat because i had no clue what it was...as I had ordered a sashimi platter. It was very very delicious along with tuna and salmon. By far the best between the 3. Now, after reading all this info...it explains why I was a bit more regular using the rest room this evening. No case of diarrhea but will see how it goes in the next few days....

Anonymous said...

OMG - I thought I was alone in my agony until reading so many comments on another site! May I never allow a restaurant again to serve me escolar. Eaten in an upscale fancy restaurant and now paying the price for the past 4 days. Having traveled all over the world and being raised on the Gulf Coast and eating fish all my life I have never had a problem like this. Nothing you can say would convince me to ever allow anyone to serve me escolar (butterfish) again.!!! I have now eliminated all orange foods (oranges/juice, carrots, etc.), vitamins that seem to contain any oil and all greasy fried foods or meats containing fat until this passes. What a nuisance!

Anonymous said...

Escolar contains "wax" which the body sometimes may not digest in large portions. The statement that it may go bad faster due to high contents of fat is incorrect. Normally foods with high contents of fat can be preserved longer.

Anonymous said...

Now I know why this fish is so popular in the gay community; brings new meaning to the term anal butter.

Anonymous said...

http://www.seafoodsource.com/seafoodhandbook.aspx?id=10737418906 read up and enjoy

Anonymous said...

I have raw Walu sushi at several Japanese restaurants in San Francisco. I love the buttery rich texture and never have any problem with it. I guess maybe my body is used to processing raw fish since I have sushi or sashimi every other week!

Helen Rennie said...

the gastrointestinal reaction has nothing to do with the fish being raw. it's the same whether it's raw or cooked for people who react to it. not everyone does. the quantity makes a difference too. In a sushi restaurant, it's very unlikely that you are eating more than a few slices :) if you are not having any trouble digesting it, keep on eating -- it's delicious!

Anonymous said...

Wow, can't believe this thread is this old. Well, Escolar, which is very similar to on oil fish, related but different genuses, are both considered snake mackerals. They both cannot metabolize wax esters (gempylotoxin). Which gives it is oil content.

I am currently suffering with the effects of the wonderful tasting, mislabled butterfish dish I had while in New Orleans at the Grand Isle Restaurant.

Orange, Oil nastiness is coming out uncontrollably. I freaked out when this happened yesterday morning, but thought, I ate a bunch of fried food while in NoLa, so no big deal. Day two, at work, have to pass gas, and nope, not gas! Another oily, smelly explosion. After freaking out, I started doing some research...and somehow stumbled across escolar and this side affect.

Yes, not everyone will get this reaction. My friend had the same dish as I, and she is fine. But, let me tell you, it's not worth the risk. I'm hoping this will stop soon. It started yesterday morning and as of 5pm the following day, it's no better.