Escolar Sashimi: It Is No Accident!

July 13, 2016 9 Comments

Escolar: It Is No Accident!

ESCOLAR SASHIMI: IT IS NO ACCIDENT!

Has anyone ever told you that eating a certain type of food will make you sick? Mostly what they mean is that down the road, that pizza you just ate may cause you some kind of health problem. But there are foods that can make you sick shortly after eating them.
I am not even talking about food that has gone bad, but something that people often eat fresh. Escolar, also known as Oilfish, is a type of fish that many consider to be quite tasty, but in truth it is not good for you. Being a popular fish in some circles it is common to find escolar in restaurants, especially sushi bars. Even with it being openly served you should always take caution while eating this fish.

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Escolar
The main issue with escolar is that it has a lot of oils within its flesh. Unfortunately we have been trained to believe that all fish oils are good for you, but not all fish oils are Omega-3 oils. Escolar is full of what is called wax-esters. These are a type of oil that are inedible and the human stomach will not absorb it, but instead attempt to flush the system. The result is the consumer of the fish may experience a mild to severe case of steatorrhea. 
In layman’s terms, you could have a very bad case of diarrhea. This onset could >be so rapid that you could have symptoms within an hour of eating escolar fillet. The way the wax-esters get flushed through the body could result in anal leakage and accidental soiling of one self. The steatorrhea can last from 2-36 hours, depending on how much you ate and on each individual case. Most people will chock up a case of this to basic food poisoning, but if you have these symptoms every time you eat sushi, then you may know the answer to why it is happening to you.

Escolar vs Tuna: What Is the Difference?

It is not as simple to avoid escolar by just not ordering it. Escolar is one of the most common subjects of food labeling fraud in the US and in the world. The main reason is that escolar is relatively cheap and some consumers cannot tell the difference between tuna and escolar. It is such an issue, that escolar has been known to imitate or fraudulently replace dozens of fish. The following fish are only an example of what escolar can be disguised as or called by: 
Escolar
Albacore Tuna, Waloo, Chilean Sea Bass, Grouper, King Tuna (aka blue fin tuna), Black Cod, Butterfish, Blue Cod, Rudderfish, Pacific Cod and Atlantic Cod. It is usually a less than reputable or a cheap establishment that may pull the wool over your eyes and feed you this fish instead of the real fish that you requested. But it is a common issue, as in 2009 5/9 New York restaurants who served Albacore Tuna were actually replacing it with escolar. Sometimes the chefs themselves may not know that they are being given bad product, but most of the time it is the business trying to make an extra dollar over this bait and switch tactic. So if you have the runs after every time you eat at your favorite sushi spot, then you should consider the idea that you may not be eating what you actually ordered.

Escolar
For the most part the only major issue with labeling fraud is that you may unexpectedly have to use the bathroom, but there are other issues that can be more serious. With labeling scams, a consumer may accidentally consume a type of fish that they are allergic to. Most people who that will happen to may break out in a rash, but some people may have a more serious reaction that can lead to anaphylaxis and possibly even death. Even with this risk, the FDA refuses to look into cases of mislabeled food, stating that they do not have the resources to enforce any regulations on labels.

Escolar Meat: What Should You Do?

First of all try and avoid places that you suspect of such practices. If you have symptoms of steatorrhea then take note on where you ate, and if the symptoms arise again after eating there, then avoid the restaurant. 
Escolar
There are also certain guidelines that you can follow to avoid getting sick from escolar. You should limit your consumption to 6oz per portion, and try to only eat the meat closest to the tail. The method of cooking or storage of escolar fillet has no effect on the wax-esters in the meat. But, be warned that even with the precautions, you are still at risk of having an accident because you ate escolar. In the image Escolar is on the left, Albacore Tuna is on the right.
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9 Responses

Caroline
Caroline

September 18, 2019

Len,

I grew up in Hawaii, half-Japanese, and eating Butterfish prepared Japanese style, either misoyaki or broiled with sea salt crystals. I am researching this, as it is frustrating that my favorite fish is one that folks are afraid of.

In short, Escolar is NOT the same as North Pacific/Alaskan Sablefish (the true Butterfish).

Now the confusion: North Pacific Sablefish is also referred to as Black Cod. Butterfish.

From what I read, lousier establishments will either substitute the real thing with Escolar, and call it Black Cod or Butterfish. But it is NOT. I also read that sometimes the fish source/supplier switches the fish, giving a less keen proprieter the Escolar when they want Butterfish. SIGH. In my hometown of Honolulu, I have never had a bad Butterfish. I always have had the Sablefish, not Escolar. I think the locals and Mainland Japanese chefs pride themselves in both picking and preparing the right fish.

I would be curious to learn where the Escolar is being served as butterfish. I can imagine a restaurant in Hawaii going out of business serving a fish that does the damage that Escolar can do in a system.

Yakov
Yakov

January 07, 2019

I once bought a pack of “butterfish” from the store and it wiped my system out. Had to stuff my pants with paper towels because I couldn’t control my bowel movements. Doctor says the fish most likely had to do it.

justin
justin

January 05, 2019

Escolar is NOT toxic (which is why the FDA lifted the ban) — it can just give you diahrhea if you eat too much. Personally Escolar is by far my favorite Sashimi. You just can’t beat the buttery flavor and texture. Just eat it in moderation and don’t stuff your face with it and you will be fine.

Ben
Ben

June 18, 2018

I order white tuna nigiri regularly and never have a problem. It’s white like the picture on the left and has the famous buttery texture. Many other places I’ve read have said it’s perfecrtly fine in moderation and even healthy. Again, never had a problem and enjoy it a lot. I kind of feel like this an issue of people with really sensitive stomachs.

David
David

October 26, 2017

So Escolar also gives you a cleanse, but somehow this cleanse isn’t good for you…

Randy ONeil
Randy ONeil

September 16, 2017

I opened a can of major label chunk white tuna recently. To my dismay the aroma was strong and fishy and not appetizing in the least. The texture was all wrong. The offender was likely Escolar. Western countries are likely targets due to their inability to discriminate between real processed tuna and substitute white fish such as Escolar. Distributors should hold processors feet to the fire. Just think of escolar as toxic seafood brought to you by a processor getting kickbacks and violating purity laws. Thanks for your excellent information on the subject. I personally think that escolar is shipped in small batches to reduce the chances for detection. Your companies line of seafood looks outstanding.

Randy O’Neil

NIKOLAY O NIKITENKO
NIKOLAY O NIKITENKO

May 04, 2017

Thank you for the question Len. Butterfish and Escolar are two completely different fish. Butterfish is a Stromateidae while escolar is specifically Lepidocybium flavobrunneum. Butterfish are small and round bodied, while escolar is long and looks somewhat like a tuna.

mimi zalsos
mimi zalsos

January 20, 2017

Thank you for the information about escolar i for one is on a fish diet since meat is not good for my health.

Len
Len

August 16, 2016

What’s a difference between escolar and butterfish. I always thought that butterfish is just a different name for escolar. Why do you mentioned that escolar is used to substitute for butterfish.
On the other topic. I have communicated with Oleg asking him if you are going to start making various product of cold smoked fish. He responded that you don’t do such products. Since than passed some time and now I see you have various type of cold smoked salmon. Are you going to expand the assortment of Global Seafood cold smoked fish, do you have such plans and when would this happen. Thank you.

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