Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Austin >
Dec 10, 2007 09:25 AM

Escolar Quest

I am looking for a seafood market or store to buy fresh Escloar.

It's my favorite sushi piece, but not sure where I can buy it to do a make your own sushi party.

I know some places call it Escara, some escolar and some super white tuna.

Anyone have an inside track or know the common name of the fish to request?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've seen it called butterfish in Northern California, but don't think I've noticed it under any name here.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sqwertz

      Thanks so much! That makes sense since it has such a soft buttery texture!

    2. They don't have it all the time, but I've seen it and bought it at Central Market near 38th St. It is sold under the name Escolar there.

      1. I've heard that this particular fish can cause some, um, gastric distress.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sighmesigh

          Ok sighmesigh, you piqued my curiosity (I was somewhat innocently thinking, how could a fish cause gas?) and after a quick google I think it merits specifying as a warning to others:

          violent diarrhea and um, uncontrollable leaking:

          At minimum, it seems that it would behoove anyone purchasing it to make sure it's true escolar and not oilfish, and to eat it in small portions. Sushi sounds like one way to go.

        2. Central Market (west gate location) has had escolar every time I've been there. It's usually pretty reasonably priced too.

          The reason escolar is so buttery and amazing is because it's really fatty.. But it's the natural equivalent to Olestra (which bore the famous warning: "May cause anal leakage.) Meaning we can't digest it. So if you're serving it to guests, make sure you have some way to limit their portions. I've never had a problem eating 2 normal sized nigiri pieces. I try to avoid risking more.

          Another option is to grill it. I think it's just as delicious grilled, and i prefer most fish raw. The flavor is rich and creamy. I've grilled it twice, once I ate a normal portion and had no "problems" after, and another time I was not so lucky. The difference as far as I could tell was in the instance that we had no side effects, the pieces were thinner. We made great effort to "press" the fish as we were grilling it so as to let as much liquified fat drip out as possible. The other time, the pieces were thicker.. So if you grill it, do ~1/2" slices, cut them to about half the normal "filet serving" type size, and drain as much as possible.

          I know Kenichi serves escolar on a hot rock, and alot of fat certainly seems to run out of the fish. But it doesn't get dry or anything... If you have a way to obtain and prepare some really hot rocks, that might be a fun way to serve it without having to give your guests any unsavory warnings..

          I've ordered it at other places and I've always been curious if they would warn me if I ordered a certain amount? Say, more than one sashimi serving? I don't recall even ever seeing a little star by it on the menu... But I know lots of places that don't have it on the menu serve it, I guess assuming if you know to ask for it, you know what you might be getting into? The fish counter guys at Central Market will however say something, in my experience. I suppose because it's usually one of the cheaper things in the case, so people just buy it to try it.

          7 Replies
          1. re: wrenfern

            Thanks so much for the details. Guess I've been really lucky so far and will be more cautious in the future.
            Guess that's why it tastes so good, cause it's got side effects!

            1. re: amykragan

              No problem. I'm glad my 'research' can help someone besides myself. Now that I'm thinking about it, I bet some thinly sliced filets on some kind of grill press (george foreman?) that maximizes fat drainage would work really well. If you like it that much raw, you really should try it grilled. If you're really worried, just keep to a sushi-like portion.

              I think I've also seen escolar served cooked at restaurants before, it's almost always one of the specials. I'm never really sure how to go about asking the waiter about if it's prepared in some way to minimize the fat content.

              1. re: wrenfern

                Roy's on 2nd street has "butterfish" on the menu quite often. It's grilled, and a large, probably 6-8 oz. I haven't had raw escolar, nor do I know much about it, so I can't confirm that the butterfish on the Roy's menu is actually escolar or just another kind of fish that they've found a creative name for. I've ordered it a few times and I really enjoy it. It's fairly thick for fish, creamy, and I haven't noticed any issues after I've eaten it. Maybe someone else can confirm whether this dish is actually escolar or not?

                1. re: Royale

                  From :
                  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.

                  So sounds like actual butterfish and escolar are not closely related, and that butterfish don't cause the digestive issues? I would bet Roy's butterfish is not escolar.

                  1. re: wrenfern

                    The waiter at Roys told me about the fish, and sablefish rings a bell. Whatever kind of fish it is, the name "butterfish" is very fitting. It's very creamy and buttery.

            2. re: wrenfern

              My experience with sushi restaurants is that they'll happily put it on a chef's choice assortment and not tell you unless you ask.

              Mikado gave us two portions of it on one of those plates. Normally, I would have been miffed that they gave us two cuts of the same fish on an assortment plate, but we were splitting it so we both got to have a piece.

              I've seen it referred to as escolar, escorar (l/r problem I guess), butterfish, and super white on menus.

              1. re: wrenfern

                My experience in Austin was that no server warned me about it. I have been ill from it before and wasn't going to eat it. I advised my tablemates of the ....potential dramas. They did not order it either.

                I was quite appalled to see how heavily it was promoted in Austin. It was on a large number of the lower-priced sushi menus, substituting for tuna in many of the standard Americanized rolls.

                My friends were in town for an important conference, and I would have hated to see them suffering from explosive orange diarrhea when having to give career-critical lectures.

                I think restaurants should be more forthcoming about the issues related to this fish.

                (edit: not complaining about the taste-- yummy yummy fish. but still!)

              2. Central Market North had Escolar Thursday night for $14.99/lb. I picked up about 5" of the fillet, but I had to throw it in the freezer since I have too much other stuff to to eat right now (that is safer ;-)

                4 Replies
                1. re: sqwertz

                  Have you tried to eat it raw? I believe Thursday is when they get their escolar shipments.

                  Also a big fan of escolar sashimi.

                  1. re: Mersenne twister

                    I've actually made a point to try a piece of every fish I've gotten from Central Market raw. I've never gotten ill. I had a friend in culinary school and apparently HEB/Central Market has really high standards for cleanliness/temperature and such and his teachers would all eat fish raw from there. HEB is a little more lenient as far as selling fish that isn't super fresh, so maybe use caution there. You can usually smell/taste how fresh it is.

                    1. re: wrenfern

                      It's not just a matter of not getting ill, but quality. I've tried to eat Central Market's raw salmon several times (bought on Thursdays, both farmed Atlantic and wild Pacific) and it has never tasted good. If I was ever served that level of quality in a sushi restaurant I would send it back.

                      Do you find their escolar (or any other fish) raw is up to par with what you get at a good sushi restaurant?

                      1. re: Mersenne twister

                        Well, if it's not being sold as "sashimi quality" I would not necessarily expect sashimi quality. I'm guessing, like tuna, there are specific parts of the salmon favored for raw service vs. cooked.

                        You can get closer to restaurant-raw quality if you ask the fish monger what is good today. He'll point you to the best, freshest fish in the case and it will probably taste pretty great raw. This is generally a good rule to follow anyways. Buy what the fish monger tells you then build your meal around it. If you're intending to serve it raw, be sure to mention that so his suggestion is well informed.

                        That said, I have to say the raw escolar from the case has always been pretty darn good, I've never had it taste notably un-fresh.. You can always ask how fresh it is, or just buy a small piece. It's usually pretty cheap compared to the rest of the fish in the case. I'm guessing escolar might have a little more time compared to less fatty fish.