ramen and pickles

science, technology, and medicine served up with some tasty noodles

Beware the (Butt)erfish

Thanks to this helpful article I have learned more than I wanted to know about about escolar (butterfish):



For the sushi lovers and sundry seafood aficionados out there, let me fill you in.   I think the title of this piece explains it most succinctly:
Let me quote it more clearly in case the URL doesn’t make it clear:  “Sometimes it makes orange oil shoot out of your ass”
However, this is a blog dedicated to science and medicine, so I feel like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t get you the medical term.  It is keriorrhea.  You’ll notice that it rhymes with another, similar condition.  Wikipedia defines keriorrhea as “the production of greasy, orange-colored stools which results from the consumption of indigestiblewax esters found in oil fish and escolar”.
The short story is that the fish cannot metabolize the wax esters that it eats and this ends up in the tissues of the fish.  When you eat the fish, it gives it a buttery texture which many people find particularly appealing and enjoyable.  However, these oils are also indigestable by humans.  If it can’t be digested, what goes in must come out, and thus the problems.  One aspect of concern is that the fish has been used as a mislabeled substitute for white tuna in fish markets and restaurants.   Although it can be called butterfish, it is important to note that there are other kinds of fish that are called butterfish that do not have this gastrointestinal property and are quite delicious, for example, Japanese butterfish.
Escolar has been banned in Japan, and there have been efforts to try to band it in the US.  There is some opposition to banning sale of the fish, and in order to give equal time to both sides this contentious issue:
It’s important to note that many foodies love this fish, and enjoy eating it:
Caveat emptor.


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