Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Escolar with Garlic and Herbs

Everyone, meet escolar! I am always excited to try a new fish, and this one has been the biggest revelation for me since sable. Where did I find this little guy? The New Deal Fish Market of course. Its thick white steaks caught my attention, so I asked Carl what it was like. He said it's like swordfish only much fattier. I always thought that swordfish could benefit from more fat, so this new fish seemed like a perfect thing to try.

Escolar comes from Venezuela, and it is sometimes sold as "White Tuna." If you ask me, it has as much resemblance to tuna as "Black Cod" (which is really sable) has to cod. Maybe we should start selling pork as "White Beef." I can't really blame the fish industry for trying though. Consumers are so conservative when it comes to buying new species of fish, that the fishmongers are willing to do anything, including appending a color to the name of most popular fish and slapping it on the label.

Escolar's thick and fatty, bone-in steaks were begging for a grill, but broiling seemed like a better option in February. I tried it with Thai Ginger marinade one night and with Rosemary Garlic marinade another night and both were fantastic -- juicy and meaty but extremely tender.

Escolar with Garlic and Herbs

Fish Substitutes: swordfish or mahi-mahi

Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped rosemary
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 pieces escolar steak without skin (6oz each)
(Note: eating escolar in quantities larger than 6oz might not agree with your stomach)
Salt and pepper
  1. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, and garlic.
  2. Season the fish generously with salt and pepper, and rub all over with rosemary garlic mixture.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Wrap a broiler pan with foil, and place the fish into it.
  4. Broil for 8 minutes per inch of thickness flipping halfway through cooking time. To test for doneness, make a small incision in the center of the steak and peek inside. Fish is done when only a trace of translucency remains in the center.

Note: You can also grill escolar covered on medium-high. Timing is the same as for broiling.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Helen,

I made mahi with ginger soy marinade last night and the fish turned out very bland. It's the first time I tried Mahi (I bought it fresh, not frozen, and it was wild-caught) and I was dissapointed.

It's not the fault of the soy ginger marinade, which was excellent. I'll be using it often.

Is mahi just a bland fish or did I do something wrong?

Helen said...

Hi there,

There are 3 different things that can be interpreted as bland (bland is a tricky word, you see ;)

1) The fish taste is too mild. Some fish are milder than others. Cod or sole for example have almost no taste, they are all about texture. There is not much you can do about the flavor of the fish itself, but mahi is usually moderately flavorful (not quite as umphy as bluefish, but definitely more flavor than cod).

2) The fish is not salted enough. From my experience this is the leading cause of bland food. When people ask me how do restaurants make their food taste so good, my answer is very simple -- salt more, cook less. Don't be afraid to salt generously before cooking. Even if you are using soy sauce in the marinade, it still needs a bit more salt. Try using kosher salt by Dimond Crystal. It's cheap, available in any supermarket, and tastes better than table salt. Since it's coarser, you need more of it by volume than table salt, so it's harder to over/under salt.

3) The fish is not spicy enough. This one is easy. Just kick up the chili in the marinade, and you'll be all set :)

By the way, how did you cook it? From my experience, dense fish like mahi need a direct heat method (grilling, broiling, searing) to bring out their flavor. If you bake them, they just turn out blah.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
-Helen

emily said...

Does this fish have a strong fish flavor?I prefer milder fish taste.It looks good,though.

Helen said...

Hi Emily,

Yes, escolar is very flavorful. I would compare it to swordfish or chilean sea bass in the amount of what I call "flavor", and what other people call "fishiness." The reason many people don't like flavorful fish is overcooking. If you cook them too long, the oils start to smell and give you that "fishy" taste. As long as you take them off heat when the center is barely translucent, you'll get great taste without the fishiness. Since the fish continutes to cook for another 5 minutes once it's off the heat, it will be completely opaque by the time you eat it.

Cheers,
-Helen

another outspoken female said...

The name escolar sounded familiar, but with a bit of a warning tone around it, so did a web search to find what it is often sold as in Australia. Here is is sometimes sold by that name but more commonly as rudderfish or butterfish.

I, and a number of other people I have talked to, have had a bad experience of this fish. Putting it delicately - it has caused excessive gastric distress! Yet some people who eat it are fine.

I came across a good reference which tried to explain it http://listproc.ucdavis.edu/archives/seafood/log0504/0015.html. The oil content varies from fish to fish, growing in the same water. So as the offending oil (which upsets the gut) is unpredictable, it is hit and miss to finding a piece that is digested ok. The tail is the least fatty (as always). The violent reaction to the oil content seems to be the same no matter how it is cooked.

Glad you got a good piece!

Anonymous said...

Last night my husband grilled up two lovely pieces of Escolar. Today he is quite ill with a headache, loose bowels, and nausea. I am suffering from a headache and loose bowels. I strongly recommend doing a little research before purchasing the fish. Don't get me wrong! It tasted great tonight but today......

Helen said...

Dear Anonymous,

So sorry you got sick from escolar. It's a tricky fish to buy as some of the stuff passed for escolar is really oilfish. I hope you feel better soon!

Cheers,
-Helen

Scott said...

I also found confuring info. Where as, it's not Escolar causing the problem, it's the oilfish being sold as Excolar.

There is a fish that is a close relative to the Escolar. This fish is "Ruvettus Pretiosus,” also called Oil fish or Cocco and is often sold as Escolar. This intentional misrepresentation causes a problem because Escolar is also called Oilfish. The big problem is the fact that the Cocco Fish has "purgative qualities" and when sold as Escolar will cause some people to have some stomach discomfort.

Escolar, Lepidocybium flavobrunneum: The Escolar has a uniform grey-brown appearance, but large, more mature fish are black in color. The Escolar is characterized by a long pointed oval head with large eyes and large mouts. A key to identification, the first dorsal fin has 8 or 9 spines and is very low, and the second dorsal fin is followed by a series of 4 to 5 finlets. The anal fin is also followed by 4 to 5 finlets. The Escolar has a forked tail with one large and two small keels at the base of the caudal fin. The body is covered with small scales and smooth skin. The Escolar is similar to and can be confused with the Black Snake Mackerel, Nealotus tripes (first dorsal fin has a very long base), the Monterey Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus concolor (6 to 8 anal and dorsal finlets), and the Oilfish, Ruvettas pretiosus (first dorsal has 13 to 15 spines).

The Escolar is a member of the Gemphylidae Family which includes the escolars, oilfish, and snake mackerels. There are 23 known global members of this family from 16 genera. The Escolar is the only member of the genus Lepidocybium.

Scott said...

I also found confuring info. Where as, it's not Escolar causing the problem, it's the oilfish being sold as Excolar.

There is a fish that is a close relative to the Escolar. This fish is "Ruvettus Pretiosus,” also called Oil fish or Cocco and is often sold as Escolar. This intentional misrepresentation causes a problem because Escolar is also called Oilfish. The big problem is the fact that the Cocco Fish has "purgative qualities" and when sold as Escolar will cause some people to have some stomach discomfort.

Escolar, Lepidocybium flavobrunneum: The Escolar has a uniform grey-brown appearance, but large, more mature fish are black in color. The Escolar is characterized by a long pointed oval head with large eyes and large mouts. A key to identification, the first dorsal fin has 8 or 9 spines and is very low, and the second dorsal fin is followed by a series of 4 to 5 finlets. The anal fin is also followed by 4 to 5 finlets. The Escolar has a forked tail with one large and two small keels at the base of the caudal fin. The body is covered with small scales and smooth skin. The Escolar is similar to and can be confused with the Black Snake Mackerel, Nealotus tripes (first dorsal fin has a very long base), the Monterey Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus concolor (6 to 8 anal and dorsal finlets), and the Oilfish, Ruvettas pretiosus (first dorsal has 13 to 15 spines).

The Escolar is a member of the Gemphylidae Family which includes the escolars, oilfish, and snake mackerels. There are 23 known global members of this family from 16 genera. The Escolar is the only member of the genus Lepidocybium.

Helen said...

Hi Scott,

Thanks so much for all this great info about escolar. It's a shame that it has such bad rep.

Cheers,
-Helen

Anonymous said...

Don't eat this fish unless you want orange oily substance to excrete from your butt and major diarrhea. Some people may eat it ok but, it's not worth it if you get the symptoms. Read the discussion from this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escolar
One guy even claims it is what killed his wife. Read this http://www.nbc4.tv/newslinks/1773988/detail.html

Robby said...

Hi Helen, I just found your site and I'm going to try out your Escolar recipe tonight. I'm looking forward to it. But I was wondering if I could freeze Escolar and eat it later. I noticed that you said to only eat it within two days, but I bought it today (Sunday) and want to defrost it and eat it on Thursday so my buddy can try it. Can I do that? Or do you recommend against it? Thanks! Robby

Rebeka said...

Helen,
My husband and I started No Flour, No Sugar diet two weeks ago.
As a result, we decided to eat fish more often. I am exploring the world of fish.
My knowledge of fish is little but I know that fish from North seas is good, salmon, tuna, halibut and cod.
I started going to the organic store more. Today I bought alaskan king salmon and I asked the man at the fish department store of our local organic food store to recommend me other sea fish and he recommeded escorale. He said it was like halibut.
When I went online to find recipe I had difficulty finging one. There are very few recipes for this fish. I came across yours blog and recipe.
I made the fish with ginger and shiitake marinade and bake it in the oven. It was a little bit oiler then what we are used to.
We decided we are not going to buy it again but that it is a good thing to try new things.
I like your blog very much. I myself like cooking very much and am discovering that world. I come originally from southeastern Europe from Bosnia and have been living in USA for 3 years now. My world Balkans is the crossroads of civilisation and their culinary influences. That means we in Bosnia have Austro- Hungarian influence and Turkish influence in cuisine. Also in Dalmatia in Croatia you have mediterrean cuisine. It all used to be one country Yugoslavia and we travelled all over and are familiar with culinary habits and culture of regions in ex Yugoslavia.
Where can I find information about sea fishes, beside buying a book, especially north sea fishes?
I would probably have 1000 questions to you if I even met you in life cause I enjoy myself in food and diversity of food and food preparation.

Helen said...

Hi Rebeka,

Look on the left side on top of my blog. There is a ton of info there on how to buy, store, and cook fish. Don't worry about the concept of "north sea" fish. Tuna for example is a migratory species and it is found all over the world, not just in the north. Not sure where in US you are, but most of the US coasts will generally sell salt water fish (fresh water fish is almost non-existent where we live in Boston). Good luck with your fish adventures.

Cheers,
-Helen

Anonymous said...

Escolar is delicious. At least I think it was Escolar. I guess it could have been Oilfish. Either way it is unique and delicious as sashimi. We're grilling some tonight as an appetizer, but we're keeping the portion size really small. I've read that you shouldn't eat more than 6oz. of it. 4oz. is probably safer.

Anonymous said...

This escolar,called butterfish also where I live, was simple and delicious. I used the fresh rosemary in my garden, served it with grilled vegetables and great artisan bread. Thanks, I do not know if I would have thought of the rosemary, but the fish carried it off well.

Anonymous said...

Escolar or Butterfish or White Tuna is delicious but should only be consumed in small quantities. Be warned of the effects: https://youtu.be/Z_HHbjgSIhQ