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Escolar

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  • Alica Aug 6, 2010 05:43 AM
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I was in a seafood market that I frequent. I saw this fish that had never heard of. it was reasonably priced and the description said, tastes just like Chilean Seabass. I bought some for my husband, a little over a half pound. I baked it and he had it, it was delicious. The day after he had a horrible digestive reaction, I won't go into detail, but he was ready to go to the hospital! He went online and found an article that said a fish called escolar has caused the exact symptoms he experianced in other people. The article also gave alot of other info like escolar is banned in many countries, you are only supposed to eat 6 oz and always grill it to remove the excess oil. I thought I'd let you know and see if anyone else has had escolar.

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  1. There is a problem with a cheaper fish being substituted for Escolar. Oilfish looks similar and it is this fish that often produces the extreme gastrointestinal distress. Mis- labeling of fish, especially in non-coastal areas is a constant problem, and it is illegal.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ospreycove

      That's interesting, but the article did specificly say escolar. So is oilfish much more oily that escolar?

      1. re: Alica

        I believe yes, but they are both tropical fin fish from deep water mostly imported from Taiwan. I just called a friend, who works at the local Marine Research Facility and she said many people/countries use Oilfish and Escolar interchangeably. So there is some confusion here. She also said Escolar is known for being "extremely" oily.

        1. re: ospreycove

          Thank you for checking on that! The fact that it is so oily and I did not know how to prepare it was my my husband had his "problem". They should probably let you know that before you buy it! It was very tasty though!!

    2. If I hadn't read about it, I never would've known it; I've had escolar twice, and loved it. It's nothing like Chilean sea bass or any other fish, for that matter, taste or texture wise. Fortunately, I never had a bad reaction but I'm afraid to press my luck any further. It was an amazing, delicious fish, with a indescribable texture and taste... no other fish to compare it to.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mcf

        They say if you have 6oz or under and you grill it to cook out the excess oil you should be fine. I do not think I could convince my husband to try it again though!

        1. re: Alica

          Well, yeah, once burned, twice shy! I know mine was roasted, not grilled, and probably at least 6 oz, but maybe not more. The description made me think of those chips that made folks have oily leakage, and those diet pills, like Orlistat. YICK. Fabulous fish, though.

      2. It's also high in mercury... I think I'll pass, thanks.

        1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escolar
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oilfish
          both fish are cousins and look alike and or very close with so many deep ocean treats out there it seems foolish to eat it even japan bans it and they sell fugu which apparently in japan is still sold under certain required license and they also have about 100 deaths there a year due to fugu poisoning so if they do not eat it why should we

          1. Escolar is also used in Japanese restaurants as Super White Tuna sashimi or nigiri. I love the stuff and have never had the gas problems, but know other who have and restaurants who have stopped using it because of the issue.

            22 Replies
            1. re: forzagto

              Don't think gas is the problem...as the above poster noted and I've heard "that made folks have oily leakage".

              1. re: forzagto

                Interesting. Escolar started showing up on the menus of Tampa sushi places about five years ago. I've had it and it seemed fairly neutral in flavor (just another white, mild-favored fish). Within the last year, I have been seeing something new show up on sushi menus here: white tuna. I haven't seen "super" appended to it, but I have had the feeling that whatever it was, it wasn't really tuna, but it seemed fine.

                I think from here on out I'll skip the escolar and the white tuna. If you will pardon the pun, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.

                1. re: gfr1111

                  "White tuna" (shiro maguro) is ok. That's albacore. It is only "super white tuna" which is problematical. I never heard of it until recently, and I thought it was an east coast substitute for albacore. Then, just a few weeks ago, I saw "super white tuna" in an Oakland sushi bar. At least it was honestly labeled. Sometimes it is sold as "shiro maguro," but when I order shiro maguro I expect albacore.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    This is my main problem with restaurants serving escolar. It has become common practice to call it white tuna, only because they can sell much more escolar if they call it white tuna. At this point I would not trust any menu description that lists white tuna without asking if it's albacore or escolar, and in my experience it's almost always escolar. Nobody needs to disguise albacore by calling it something other than albacore.

                    1. re: la2tokyo

                      We were in a Japanese restaurant last night and they had escolar on the sushi menu.

                2. re: forzagto

                  that's the only way i've ever had it - at a sushi bar. hadn't even heard of it until a couple years ago. love it, and never had any issues with it. maybe because when you get it as nigiri you're only ingesting such a small amount...?

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Yes, they say because it is so oily you should only eat 6oz and you should grill it so the excess oil will drain/ cook out. I guess the oil is too much for some systems.

                    1. re: Alica

                      I don't see how it can have more oil than toro or some of the fattier salmon, or the old chilean sea bass, my all-time favorite, it must be something in the oil, or another substance in the flesh, or something.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        But, EWS, they're talking about in excess of 6oz. IMO, that's an awful lot of fish.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I did read up on the wax ester part of the fat in escolar, it seems to be anomalous to escolar, rather than salmon or most of the fish we eat.

                          Actually, it sort of sounds like Alli adverse affects- those familiar will know what I mean.

                          A part of dining in the 21st century? Discuss.

                        2. re: EWSflash

                          it's not the quantity of oil, but the type. the oil in escolar is indigestible by humans. still, in small enough quantity, you wouldn't notice the effect.

                          If you are familiar with the fat substitute Olestra, which was attempted in some snack foods, it's the same concept.

                          1. re: EWSflash

                            I've eaten it on many occasions and never had the slightest adverse effect. Granted most of it raw in a sushi prep so eating more than 6 oz is not going to happen. Once as a cooked fillet that was maybe a little more than 6 oz.

                          2. re: Alica

                            I used to get it at the Los Angeles farmers markets and played around with it. I finally tried a soy and sugar glaze and then cooked in a high heat cast iron skillet. Small portion and it was delicious. In general, treat the fish the way you would pork bely. Not too much at once and give it time for the fat to render a bit. It is quite good though.
                            JeremyEG
                            HomeCookLocavore.com

                        3. re: forzagto

                          We had some escolar as one of a number of apps last night. Raw. It was great. No problems whatsoever.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            They say you can have no more than 6 oz. It does taste good, it just need to come with directions.

                            1. re: Alica

                              I'd consider >6oz. serving of fish as quite large. I grind my beef and make 6oz. patties and that's ALOT of meat.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I think when I buy fish they pretty much consider a normal serving 8oz but in a restaurant it seems less. We eat more vegetable than carbs, like rice etc.. so I usually get a larger serving of fish. Anyway, so glad the escolar did not effect you!

                                1. re: Alica

                                  You're saying that for you a serving size is a half a pound? Wow.

                                  I'd be suprised if it had effected me. Knock wood, nothing ever does.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    8oz for <A HREF="http://blog.medellitin.com/2008/12/es...> is definitely above recommended portion sizes. That being said, there are a ton of factors that will impact whether or not you will be affected by the wax esters, including: your own tolerance, the amount of esters and the present in the fish.

                                  2. re: Alica

                                    I consider 6-8 oz prior to cooking to be just adequate, and less than that very small.
                                    Particularly since I, too, avoid starches, and eat only veggies and/or salad with it.

                                    A 6 oz.piece of fish, once it loses moisture in cooking, is mighty skimpy to me.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      That may very well be when one is talking about most fish species, but we're talking SPECIFICALLY about Escolar here, & it's been most specifically recommended that folks NOT consume more than 4 ounces the first time - cooked or raw - because of possible unpleasant side effects.

                                      1. re: Breezychow

                                        I responded to comments made by Alica and c oliver NOT SPECIFICALLY about escolar. In fact, if you examine the context, you'll see that beef portion size was part of what I responded to and that is NOT SPECIFICALLY escolar.

                          2. I've heard escolar is often substituted for black cod or sablefish in preparing miso butterfish.

                            1. It has been years about ten years since I've had Escolar, but I will never forget my reaction to it. I know exactly how your husband felt. Since hearing about Butterfish I've also avoided ordering that, too.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: grouper

                                I spent a fair amount of time trying to get to the bottom of the Escolar confusion. The biggest problems with Escolar is that:

                                1. You eat too much of it.
                                2. You get it when you don't expect it.

                                To get a sense of how confusing it can be, check out this post:

                                http://blog.medellitin.com/2008/12/es...

                                1. re: grouper

                                  same here. about 8 years ago we had a delicious preparation of sauteed Escolar. The next day husband calls to ask "do you have any unusual symptoms?" ha!

                                  I have eaten it once since then, in a sushi restuarant, with no weird effects. Clearly, portion size matters.

                                2. I had this fish at a fancy steakhouse a few years ago and enjoyed it so much I thought I would look it up online when we got home. They called it "Walu," probably because Escolar was getting such bad press due to "orange, oily leakage." Upon finding what I may be in for, I was in a panic for hours, waiting for the " side effects" of consuming this fish to kick in. Thankfully, the chef had prepared the fish as required to avoid ill consequence. My poriton was small and appeared to have been grilled before getting the "fancy sauces/sides" treatment. My only side effects were small guilt trips over the amount we spent on dinner and the fat/calorie content of our meals. I would eat it again, but only every so often, in small portions. I am sorry that your spouse had a nasty experience. What a bummer.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: CapreseStacy

                                    Would it be "Waloo"? We were in a restaurant last night and they had that on the menu. The waiter said it was "an oily" fish and my husband and I cringed! I am sure they prepared it properly, I did not notice how it was being served.
                                    As for the fish market that I bought the escolar in, I have been back since and they still had it. I commented to the fish manager and he did not really seem interested. Oh well!
                                    Glad you survived it! It is very tasty!

                                  2. Escolar can, in fact, produce what's politely called "the runs" in some people. For this reason (& after a few lawsuits), many restaurants outside of Japanese sushi bars no longer offer it. Current recommendations I've seen via online purveyors recommend one eat no more than 4 oz. at any one time - whether cooked or raw.

                                    While I've never had it cooked, I've enjoyed it - & continue to enjoy it - raw in both sushi & sashimi preparations. It's wonderful & a definite favorite - very mild & buttery. I've yet to experience any type of side effect, but then I'm only consuming 2-3 small slices at any one time. Japanese seafood purveyors & restaurants offer Escolar as "White Tuna", just in case you want to try it (or avoid it).

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Breezychow

                                      I read 6 oz. and you need to grill it to cook off the extra oil. Maybe 4 oz is for sushi. When I bought it and served it to my husband I had no idea, I served him over 8 oz baked!

                                      1. re: Alica

                                        From what i read, wax esters are heat stable, so techniques like grilling are likely to have minimal impact on them. I dont think that any amount that would release from the fish while cooking would be significant.

                                    2. I am starting to see frozen escolar filets in the supermarket.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Steve

                                        Do they have a warning on the label? Some people routinely make and serve several "portions" as one serving! eeesh! My teenager, for example, would probably eat 3 or 4 chunks at a time, if he were given the opportunity. Where I work, this fish is commonly referred to as PooFish (though in reality, several fish could probably bear that name with some accuracy). That might not show up on a label, though... not a prudent marketing strategy.

                                        1. re: CapreseStacy

                                          Walu is the Fijian name for the Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel- a popular food fish found in the Indian & Pacific Oceans.

                                          1. re: Sam Salmon

                                            Yes - Walu is NOT Escolar. You're talking about two completely different fish here. There's also a wonderful sportfish called "Wahoo", which resembles & tastes like swordfish.

                                            Please, PLEASE, don't get all hyper about fish because of this one problem with one species.

                                            1. re: Breezychow

                                              FWIW, wikipedia says that walu is the hawaiian name for Escolar and I have definitely seen Escolar labeled as walu.

                                      2. So many fish in the sea...

                                        I've no desire to try Escolar.

                                         
                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Kholvaitar

                                          A face only a mother could love

                                          1. re: Kholvaitar

                                            It's really good, not like any other... just don't eat too much.

                                          2. more reading about escolar here:

                                            http://guiltycarnivore.com/2007/07/24...

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                              Yeah, I'd take that long story with a boulder of salt, but it was quite a literary exercise anyway. :-) 16 lbs of fish? Seriously!

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                I agree but it always makes me laugh in a WTF way....

                                              2. re: C. Hamster

                                                That is utterly ridiculous, & I'm highly doubtful that there's even an ounce of truth to it. Pure fairy tale.

                                                Escolar is delicious. I frequently enjoy it as sushi &/or sashimi (where it's billed as "White Tuna"). But as posted OFTEN in this thread, it's highly recommended that you eat no more than 4 ounces at a time until you know whether or not you're sensitive to it. And even if you're not, no more than 6 ounces at one time - raw or cooked.

                                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                                  Dr. Oz reported on this the other day. Doesn't sound so good.

                                                  Dr. Oz will be warning viewers about fake foods sold at grocery stores and served in restaurants. In a sneak preview of the show, Dr. Oz appears to be warning viewers of a fish called “escolar” that is sometimes (or not) mistakenly sold and served as white tuna. In spite of previous bans on this fish, this counterfeit food is still legally sold today and could be the reason why your dinner at a fish restaurant or sushi bar led to a gastrointestinal discomfort known colloquially as “the fish laxative” effect.

                                                  Escolar, also known as “snake mackerel,” is a species of fish that research has shown is among one of the most fraudulently or mistakenly marketed “fake fish” for what was otherwise believed to “white tuna,” “albacore,” or “butterfish.”

                                                  Escolar is an oily fish that possesses a very high content (14-25%) of wax esters known as gempylotoxin that the human body is not able to digest and metabolize because of a lack of the type of enzymes needed to break the large waxy ester into smaller, absorbable molecules. Some individuals who consume this wax ester find themselves experiencing severe gastrointestinal comfort that includes headaches, nausea, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea and a special type of anal leakage that alarms many because of its sudden, uncontrollable explosive onset and unusual orange color.

                                                  http://www.emaxhealth.com/8782/beware...

                                                  1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                    And we all know that "Dr. Oz" (who I personally cannot stand in any way, shape, or form), is the be all & end all of health. Right up there with the rest of the reality tv crowd.

                                                    That said, he's not stating anything new that hasn't been stated before. Just escalating it to fit his media agenda.

                                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                                      Well said

                                                  2. re: Bacardi1

                                                    Are you saying that this is a fairy tale?

                                                    http://guiltycarnivore.com/2007/07/24...

                                                    Or are you denying that escolar gives people unpleasant orange bowel movements?

                                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                                      Come on, the first posters wife ate 16 pounds in 10 minutes during a eating competition. I'm not saying that a risk doesn't exist but that most people can eat a normal portion and have no undesirable effect. Dr Oz is sensationalizing the risk. His normal mode of operation is to sensationalize both risks and benefits of what ever he's talking about. Typical talk show BS

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                        The context of the discussion on Dr. Oz was "food fraud" ~ ie; selling you something cheaper than what you think you are buying. One of the most common swaps where fish is concerned is with tuna being swapped out with escolar. His guest also mentioned escolar is called the Ex-Lax of fish and is banned in Italy and Japan.

                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                          No argument on Dr. Oz, but i assure you, one doesn't need to eat 16 lbs to have a problem. I and my husband both ate normal size escolar steaks. maybe 6-8 oz one night for dinner. We had identical symptoms which makes me think it's not a matter of 'sensitivity'. We had no discomfort at all, but the rather appalling term "anal leakage" is pretty much dead-on discriptive. The horror....

                                                  3. I just think if a fish market wants to sell it they should let you know themselves the way you should cook it and the risks. I had no idea when I bought it.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Alica

                                                      Amen to that! The first time I bought it (as waloo, in Hawai'i) the fishmonger cautioned me about ways to cook it, and it came out delicious, with no side effects. The last time I had it was in a restaurant, where it was sauteed. It and I did not get along....