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Escolar

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Many years ago, I tasted escolar in Las Vegas. I thought it was the best fish I ever had. Not long after that, I remember that the FDA had banned commercial sales of escolar due to reported illnesses. This month's Food and Wine mentions a chef that frequently has escolar on his menus. What I want to know is 1. Is escolar commercially available again? If it is, does anyone know where it can be purchased around Philadelphia?

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  1. Escolar is commercially available in California, but it is an infrequent catch.

    Escolar causes "leakage" in some people.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Alan408

      It's available off and on in NYC, too. (It was banned only briefly back in the mid-90s.) I don't know where you can find it in Philly, but if you do (a) be careful about portion size and (b) make sure you get it from a good market. Apparently suboptimal storage accentuates its, uh, "purgative" effects.

      1. re: MikeG

        If you REALLY want some escolar, you could call Lacroix restaurant and ask where they buy it. It has been on their menu for a few weeks.

        Link: http://www.minorgourmandry.com

    2. We were served escolar about a month ago at OLA in Miami.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karl

        I just bought and cooked some escolar, but I don't think I'll do that again. Not because of dire gastro-intestinal effects, but because the very high oil content was nauseatingly rich.

      2. Super Q Mart international markets (not sure if you have these in Phili) have sashimi quality escolar frozen for $10/pound. I am with you... best fish ever... either as sushi or lightly seared. I buy it all the time.

        1. Escolar is a very oily fish and yes, it is a wonderful tasting fish, rich, buttery, comes real close to Chilean Sea Bass and should only be eaten in moderation. And because of the high content it is possible that in some people it will cause a loose tummy.

          During the fall and winter is caught regularly in Bermuda and I eat it about twice a week, but my portions are only 4 oz.!

          Good luck finding!

          1 Reply
          1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

            I've seen escolar at The Lobster Place (in Chelsea Market) in Manhattan.

          2. You can get escolar in good sushi restaurants in any big city in the US. It doesn't always appear on the menu by the same name, and usually only on the a la carte menu, since ingesting larger amounts of it as one would in an entree is inadvisable. Since the name varies depending on the region you're in, it pays to have the waiter confirm with the chef if they don't seem sure whether their white tuna is escolar or albacore. The quality really varies regionally as well -- you can get the absolutely freshest, best escolar in South Florida, whereas even in the best NYC sushi restaurants I'll only ever start with one order of a la carte (just one or two pieces) since invariably it doesn't match up.

            1. Here in Orlando Florida its on the menus quite frequently. I have escolar sashimi at the sushi place I like for years.

              It is a oily fish and the sashimi melts in your mouth like butter. It's quite delicious. I have never had any affects from the sashimi. The effects are the same as if you were taking fish oil pill suppliments

              not to get gross but I believe the "leakage" they refer to is more like oil that your body can't process. Some people may be sensative to this others have no effects.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                Oil that your body can't process is exactly what it is -- it's called "wax ester," and the percent contained in escolar is among the highest in existence, I think up around 50%, which therefore must be a big contributor to the quality of the flavor, that heavenly, buttery effect. All luxuries in moderation though; I experienced the gross thing just once, when I was a little overabundant in the quantity I ate, which happened also to be on an occasion when I had been eating a mostly vegan diet, so my stomach was pretty empty. The worst thing about it is that it is literally bright orange, that oil, and stains fabric like nothing I've ever seen. I didn't feel badly at all though, no aches or pains, just a little shocked -- I have to wonder if people haven't had other symptoms psychosomatically, since seeing the oil is likely to trigger memories of actual food poisoning experiences.

                I've never seen any medical information stating dangers of ingesting wax ester, only that it can't be absorbed by the body, making the leakage a completely appropriate response, but its removal from restaurant menus sort of an over-the-top response. I guess it's easier for various governments to ban it, than to explain in detail to the public the exact nature of the situation. "It's just an indigestible oil, you're fine..." Who knows, it may have a cleansing effect. ;)

              2. In the Philly area, drive out to Ardmore (or take the R5 to Paoli/Thorndale, it is about 15 minute train trip). In the Ardmore Farmer's Market (right next to Trader Joe's) is a fish stand. They have the best fish in the city and typically carry Escolar.

                1. Calling in from SoCal here: just got an email notice that my favorite fishmonger will have escolar today at the South Pasadena Farmer's Market. I'll pass... or perhaps I should say I don't WANT to "pass" (so to speak), so I'll get something else. Mrs. O and I spent a most uncomfortable night after I'd cooked some of that several years back. It was tasty - we have a large tolerance for richness - but the Olestra-like aftereffects were awful.