Escolar Fish Culinary Profile

Escolar Flavor Profile

Escolar Flavor Scale
Flavor
Oil
Texture

Escolar has the unfortunate distinction of being both one of the best tasting fish in the world…and having the most notorious of possible side effects after its consumption. Let’s discuss “the good” first. It has a fabulous flavor and a sultry texture, so much so that some say it is the most enjoyable fish they have ever eaten.

In fact, Escolar has such a high fat content that its silky texture is comparable to the fattiest Tuna. It is this richness, and its relative cheap cost, which makes it popular in sushi restaurants, where it is often deceptively marketed on menus as “white tuna”, “super-white tuna”, “white fish”, “oil fish”, or “bincyo”.

Escolar has brilliant white flesh with a satiny texture and a rich, succulent flavor which some have described as similar to halibut but with a richer, more satiny texture. When cooked, it takes flavors well but due to its high fat content it is best with preparations such as marinades, rubs, fruit salsas, etc which are not “heavy” or creamy.

Typical Cooking Methods

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Deep-Fry
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Saute
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Sushi

 

Alternate Names

The only US FDA approved name for Escolar is Escolar. Because of the possible side effects, all other names are deceptive at best, fraudulent at worst. Japanese name: Aburasokomutsu
Common (erroneous) Marketing Names: Black Oilfish, Snake Mackerel , White Tuna, Super White Tuna, White Fish, Oil Fish, Bincyo, Butterfish, Hawaiian Butterfish, Walu, Waloo.
Possibly Sold Fraudulently as: Atlantic Cod, Oilfish, Rudderfish, Blue Cod, Black Cod, King Tuna, Grouper, Orange Roughy, Sea Bass, Gemfish, Chilean Sea Bass, Albacore Tuna, and White Tuna.
Mislabeling seems to be most prominent on sushi menus where the names White Tuna, Super-White Tuna, White Fish, Oil Fish, and Bincyo are often actually Escolar.

The Bad News

OK, now for the notorious news! Escolar is so high in fat that it is known as the Ex-Lax fish, and Hawaiians call it Maku’u, “exploding intestines”!

Escolar are not able to metabolize the wax esters (called gempylotoxin) which are naturally present in their diet. As a result, these oils gather in their flesh, giving them an oil content of 14% – 25% and are the reason for their satiny texture and mouth feel. These wax esters are large oil molecules which are similar to castor oil and are hard for humans to process in high quantities as well. Having too much can result in a temporary, very embarrassing, but typically harmless condition known as keriorrhea (Greek for “flow of wax”). The symptoms…an uncontrollable diarrhea-like expulsion of yellowish-orange oil which occurs anywhere from 30 minutes and 36 hours later! Other digestive side effects which some people have reported may include: headache, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, and anal leakage. Not pleasant! And many people report that the onset is sudden and uncontrollable, as in, “What the @!#%!&? I need to change my pants.”

Because of the understandable public outcry, various nations have regulated Escolar in different manners. Italy and Japan have banned it out right. Canada, Denmark, and Sweden all require warning labels to be on the product when sold. And in the US, the FDA temporarily banned Escolar in the early 1990’s, but then lifted the ban in 1992 after it determined that the fish was not toxic and did not pose a public health risk…possibly embarrassing, yes; health risk, no.

Many people incorrectly report keriorrhea as food poisoning, but it actually is the natural purgative effects of consuming too much of this type of oil. Harold McGee, author of ”On Food and Cooking” (Scribner, 1984), describes the process as follows: ”The wax esters therefore pass intact, their lubricating properties undiminished, from the small intestine into the colon, where a sufficient quantity will defeat our normal control over the ultimate disposition of food residues.”

He further states that Escolar have been used in folk medicine in the Canary Islands, with the earliest written reference to the fishes’ purgative properties occurring in 1841.

Some say that “deep skinning” or grilling can help reduce the possible side effects of keriorrhea, but niether of these claims have been proven. Others say that cuts from the tail may contain a lower fat content. However, the only commonly accepted wisdom for Escolar consumption is, “Moderation in all good things” and the strict standard is to consume 6 oz or less (7 oz is like having 2 Tbl of caster oil!). Chef Charlie Trotter described Escolar as “Wonderfully succulent,” in his cookbook ”Charlie Trotter’s Seafood” (Ten Speed Press, 1997). Chef Trotter says, ”A spoon is all you really need” (his recipe specifies 3 oz portions.)

Who serves Escolar?

So, if it is so good, and yet so bad, who actually dares to serve this fish? Actually, a number of chefs have fired up their stoves to serve this scrumptiously notorious fish. It appears that they must believe that eating Escolar is like consuming alcohol…a little is fine, but if you have too much the effects will be unpleasant. Here are some of the chefs who have successfully served this fish:

  • Bravo’s Top Chef contestant Nina Compton – Tuna and Escolar Tartar With Tomato Water and Jalapeno
  • Emeril Lagasse – Escolar with Arugula Pesto
  • Eric Ripert’s Surf and Turf – Escolar and Kobe Beef, Le Bernardin – NYC
  • Eric Ripert – Poached Hawaiian Escolar
  • Emeril Lagasse – Grilled Escolar with a Sauté of Fresh Asparagus, Baby Morels & Currant Tomatoes
  • Eric Ripert – Escolar With Red-Wine Béarnaise, Le Bernardin – NYC
  • John Greeley – Australian Lobster–Escolar Ceviche, ‘21’ Club – NYC
  • Vincent Pouessel – Citrus Grilled Escolar, Aureole – Las Vegas
  • Charlie Trotter – Escolar with braised endive, fava beans, & veal stock reduction, Charlie Trotter’s – Chicago
  • Norman Van Aken – Pan-roasted Gulf escolar with braised escarole, Norman’s – Coral Gables
  • Laurent Gras – Escolar Jamón, L2O – Chicago

Storage

High-fat fish tend to spoil faster than low-fat fish and this is especially true with Escolar. If purchased fresh then it should be consumed within 2 days. If it was frozen, serve it on the same day it is thawed.

Typical Wholesale Products

H&G
Skin/On Fillets
Skin/Off Fillets
Portions

Beware of fish vendors who give a FRAUDULENT sales pitch such as this, “Escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum) is sometimes confused with Oil Fish (Ruvettus pretiosus), which has been known to cause intestinal problems and/or Keriorrhea. Always verify the fish species to confirm that you are purchasing true Escolar.”

They are falsely suggesting that Escolar does not cause intestinal problems in some people if they eat too much of it. If your salesman gives you this pitch, dump them! At best, they are dumb as a rock. And at worst they are selling you all kinds of illegitimate seafood.

Escolar Description (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum)

Looking at Escolar you will notice that the rings around the large eyes almost appear to be eye glasses. Because of this appearance, the Spanish named the fish Escolar, which is Spanish for scholar. They have dark brown skin, turning darker with age until it is very black. They are rather similar to Tuna in body shape, and are similarly a fast-swimming fish. The largest recorded length is 79 inches (200 cm) and 100 pounds. But the average length is about 39 inches (150 cm).

Escolar fish filletsclick for a larger image
Escolar whole fishclick for a larger image

Fresh Availability

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh. Frozen available all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

 

Butchering Yield Percentage

Item To Skin/On Fillets To Skin/Off Fillets Notes
Whole Head/On gutted na na If you have yield info on this fish please leave a comment below.
Yield % varies according to a number of factors including: size of fish, season, sex, and the skill of your fishmonger.

 

 

Escolar Sustainability Info

Name Alternate Names Catch Method Catch
Region
Seafood
Watch
Ocean
Wise
Sea
Choice
Sustainable
Sushi
Mercury
Concerns
Escolar Walu, Aburasokomutsu Wild, Longline US, Hawaii na na na Yellow-icon_20.png High
Wild International na na na Red-Dot_20.png
Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.
Green-icon_20.png = Best Choice/Recommended Yellow-icon_20.png = Good Alternative Red-Dot_20.png = Avoid/Not Recommended Updated
Mar 2014

 

Range & Habitat

Escolar_Range_400.jpgAquaMaps Data sources: GBIF

With the possible exception of the northern Indian Ocean, Escolar is found world-wide in temperate & tropical waters at depths between 600 – 2655 feet.

Its diet includes squids, crustaceans and many other fishes.

 

Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.

* Calories 354
* Protein grams 30
* Fat grams 23.4
* Saturated fat grams 8.4
* Sodium milligrams 175
* Cholesterol milligrams 84
* Omega-3 grams

 

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David Buchanan is a professional chef and author of Chefs-Resources.com, a site geared towards providing chefs and culinarians useful info to help in their kitchens.
Did you find the information about Escolar useful? Or did you notice something which is missing on this page?
If so, leave a comment!

 

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Fish Fillet Butchering Yields

Finfish Butchering Yield % to Fillets and Loins

Fish Fillet Yields jpgThe art of the Fishmonger is becoming more rare in the US as this skill set is left to the seafood processors, and chefs loose touch with how to break-down fish. Most of today’s chefs do not know what the fish fillet butchering yield is for the vary fish that they are serving! And although it is a very sad thing, it is completely understandable as utilization of the whole fish is not possible in many operations, and it is much easier to rotate product when you can purchase 5 – 10 lb at a time rather than a whole tuna.

However, if you do breakdown your own fish, or want to give it a try, then these are suggested yield percentage standards for your fishmonger or cooks to try to achieve. Your actual yields will vary depending upon a number of variables including the size of the fish (larger fish generally have a better yield), season, sex of the fish, and the skill of your fishmonger. Also, be sure to check-out the “how to fillet fish” page of video tutorials to see the technique used for different fish.

Notes:

  • Dressed is gutted, scaled, tail and fins removed (could be H/On or H/Off)
  • H&G = Head-Off and gutted
  • H/On & G = Head-On and gutted
  • Japanese Fillet includes collar and ribs
  • PBI = Pin Bones In
  • Round = whole fish ungutted
  • Skn/On = skin-on
  • Skn/Off = skin-off
  • Skn/On B/L In = skin-on, bloodline in (used for Loins)
  • Skn/On B/L Out = skin-on, excess waste is trimmed including about 95% of the bloodline
  • Skn/On C/C = Skin-on center cut

Yield percentages listed do vary on average by about +/- 3. Multiple sources were researched and the “best” info was selected.

If you have access to professional Fishmonger yields then please leave comments at the bottom of the page
to update info, especially for items which have “??” entered in the cell.

 

Fresh Seafood Butchering Yield Percentages – Loins
Fish Cut To Skn/On B/L In To Skn/On B/L Out To Skn/Off B/L Out To Skn/On C/C To Skn/Off C/C
Marlin
Kajiki – Blue Marlin
source
Round 65% ?? ?? To Dressed H/On = 80%
H&G 70% 67% 60% 60% 53%
Loin Skn/On B/L In 92% 85% 85% 75%
Nairagi – Striped Marlin Round 65% ?? ?? To Dressed H/On = 75%
Ono (Wahoo) Round To Dressed H/On = 75%
H&G 20-up 78% 73% 65% ?? ??
H&G 20-down 74% 69% 60% ?? ??
Loin Skn/On B/L In 95% 85% ?? ??
Shark Black Thresher Bullet 63% 57% ?? 50%
Shark Black Tip H&G ?? 74% ?? 68%
Sturgeon Bullet 95% 72% 65% ?? ??
Swordfish H&G 78% 72% 64% 64% 56%
Loin Skn/On B/L In 90% 85% 85% 75%
Tuna
Tuna Albacore (Tombo) H&G 70% 64% 53% ?? ??
Loin Skn/On B/L In 90% 85% ?? ??
Tuna Bigeye H&G 70% 55% 52% 35%
Loin Skn/On B/L In 79% 75% ??
Tuna Bluefin H&G 70% 55% 50% 35%
Loin Skn/On B/L In 83% 72% ??
Tuna Yellowfin H&G 69% 65% 55% 55% 50%
Loin Skn/On B/L In 90% 85% 85% 75%

 

Fresh Fish Yield Percentages – Fillets
Species Item To Skn/on Fillets To Skn/off Fillets Notes
Amberjack H/On & G 63% 54%
H&G 74% 62%
Skin/On Fillets 84%
Arctic Char Round 55% 50%
H/On & G 69% 63%
Skin/On Fillets 91%
Barracuda H/On & G 61% ??
Barramundi Round ?? 38%
H/On & G 45% – 50% ??
Basa H&G 40%
Black Cod H&G 59% 48%
Catfish H/On & G, 4-up 63% 50% To Skirt/Off, Skin/Off = 42% source
H/On & G, 2-down 60% 40% Skirt is too thin to utilize
Skin/On Fillets 87% To Skirt/Off = 67%
Cod – Atlantic H/On & G 50% PBI 43% PBO During spawning: 30-38% PBO
Cod – Pacific Round 55% 48% PBI To Skin/Off PBO = 41% source
H&G 71% 62% PBI To Skin/Off PBO = 52%
Skin/On Fillets 87% To Skin/Off PBO = 73%
Skin/On V-cut Fillets 87% PBI Round to V-cut Fillet = 39%
To Skin/Off PBO = 73%
Corvina Round 86% 43% Corvina is a name used for many different fish of the Croaker & Drum family. Yields here are very general.
H&G 50% 42%
Skin/On Fillets 84%
Dory Round 35% 25%
Drum Fish
Black Drum Round 46% 40%
H/On & G ?? 33%
Skin/On Fillets 87%
Red Drum Round, 1.5 lb 34% 28% source pg 15
Round, 2 lb 46% 40% source
H/On & G ?? 33%
Skin/On Fillets 87%
Escolar H&G 75% 70%
Grouper
Grouper 3-down H/On & G ?? 40% source
Black Grouper Round ?? 43% source: Modern Garde Manger
Red Grouper Round ?? 42%
Haddock H/On & G – large fish 47% 42% source
H/On & G – small fish 43% 40%
Skn/On Flt 89%
Hake, Pacific Round 43% 32% PBI Round to Dressed H/On = 80%
Round to H&G = 60%source alaska.gov
27% PBO
H/On & G 51% 38% PBI
Skn/On Flt 75% PBI
Skn/On Flt 63% PBO
Halibut Round 56% 46% Round to H&G = 70 – 83%
10/20 H&G 65% 55%
20/40, 40/60 H&G 68% 58% source alaska.gov
Skn/On Flt 80%
Hapu Round Round to Dressed Head/On = 66% source
40% ?? source
Hebi – Spearfish Round, 20/40 Round to Dressed Head/On = 70% – 80%
H/On & G, 20/40 45% – 55% ?? source
Hiramasa H/On & G 63% 54% Western Fillet
H&G 74% 62% Western Fillet
H/On & G 74% ?? Japanese Fillet
H&G 87% ?? Japanese Fillet
Lingcod Round To Dressed Head/On = 90%; To H&G = 62% – 74%
Round ?? 27% – 32% PBI Fillets
H/On & G ?? 39% source alaska.gov
H&G ?? 48%
Mahi Mahi Round ?? 40% – 50% To Dressed Head/On = 75%
H&G 68% 59% Males have larger heads and lower yields
Skn/On Flt 85%
Monchong H/On & G, 20 lb 60% 44% source: Chef’s Resources kitchen
Skn/On Flt 79%
Onaga Round ?? 46% – 48% source
H/On & G 38% 33% source: Chef’s Resources kitchen
Opah Round ?? 35% source
Opakapaka Round 45% ?? source
H/On & G, 10-up 44% ??
H/On & G, 10-down 38% ??
Pollock, Alaska (Walleye Pollock) Round 40% 34% Round to Dressed H/On = 79%
Round to H&G = 62%
Skn/On Flt 85%
Red Snapper Round 52% 48%
H/On & G 40% – 44% 36% – 40%
Skn/On Flt 92%
Rockfish I
Black, Greenstripe, Thornyhead
Round 32% 27% Round to Dressed H/On = 88%
H/On & G 56% 48% source: alaska.gov
H&G 86% 70%
Skn/On Flt 85%
Rockfish II
Canary, China, Dusky, Quillback, Redbanded, Redstriped, Rosethorn, Rougheye, Shortraker, Silvergray, Tiger, Widow, Yelloweye, Yellowtail
Round 28% 23% Round to Dressed H/On = 88%
H/On & G 49% 40% source: alaska.gov
H&G 86% 70%
Skn/On Flt 82%
Sablefish Round 40% 35% Round to H&G = 64%source: alaska.gov
H/On & G 45% 36%
H&G 59% 48%
Skn/On Flt 80%
Salmon – Farmed
Atlantic Salmon 2/4, 4/6 H/On & G 68% 62% source: Pacific Seafood
6/10, 10/14 H/On & G 70% 64%
14/18 H/On & G 71% 65%
18/Up H/On & G 72% 66%
Skn/On Flt
Chinook Salmon (farmed) 2/4, 4/6 H/On & G 68% 62%
6/8 H/On & G 69% 63%
8/10 H/On & G 70% 64%
10/Up H/On & G 71% 65%
Skn/On Flt
Salmon – Wild
Chum Salmon Round 60% 50% source: Pacific Seafood
H/On & G 67% 56%
H&G 81% 67%
Skn/On Flt
Coho Salmon Round 57% 51%
H/On & G 62% 55%
H&G 76% 68%
Skn/On Flt
Chinook (King) Salmon Round 55% 46%
H/On & G 63% 52%
H&G U/10 69% 62%
H&G 10/Up 72% 64%
H&G 18/Up 76% 67%
Copper River 10/Up 73% 66%
Skn/On Flt
Pink Salmon Round 52% 42%
H/On & G 57% 46%
H&G 74% 58%
Skn/On Flt
Sockeye Salmon Round 53% 46%
H/On & G 57% 50%
H&G 72% 62%
Skn/On Flt
Sardines Round 53% 49% Round to H/On & G = 84%
H/On & G 64% 59%
Sea Bass
Black Sea Bass Round 37% 33%
H/On & G 45% 37%
Skin/On Fillets 89%
Chilean Sea Bass Round To H&G = 68%
H&G ?? 65% – 75%
White Sea Bass Round ?? 33%
H&G 46% 40%
Skin/On Fillets 87%
Skate H/On & G 26% ?? Round to H/On & G = 90%
Round to H&G = 39%
H&G 59% ??
Wings ?? 35%
Sole
Dover Sole (Pacific Dover) Round 29% Round to H/On & G = 86%
Round to H&G = 65%
English Sole Round 27% Round to H/On & G = 85%
Round to H&G = 65%
Petrale Sole Round 29% Round to H/On & G = 86%
Round to H&G = 66%
Rex Sole Round 33% Round to H/On & G = 85%
Round to H&G = 65%
Rock Sole Round 28% Round to H/On & G = 87%
Round to H&G = 67%
source: alaska.gov
Steelhead Wild H/On & G 69% 62%
Wild H&G 66% 60%
Farmed H/On & G 70% 63%
Striped Bass 2 lb Round 40% 34% source
Skn/On Flt 86% source
Sturgeon Round 56% 45% Round to H/On & G = 85%
Round to H&G = 75%
source: alaska.gov
H/On & G 66% 53%
Bullet 95% 80%
Skn/On Flt 80%
Swai H/On & G 40%
Tilapia Round 30% – 35%
Trout
Trout – Wild Round 61% 55% Round to H/On & G = 88%
Round to H&G = 69%
source: alaska.gov
H/On & G 78% 69%
H&G 88% 79%
Skn/On Flt 90%
Trout – Farmed H/On & G 69% 63% H/On & G to H&G = 78%
Skn/On Flt 91%
Uku – Grey Jobfish Round 45% ?? source

 

Comments from before Site Migration

Add a Comment!

MITCH SIPES [104.181.240.109] [ Aug 12, 2015 ]

I am trying to get a yield for H&G Barents Sea Cod from Russia or Norway. There is an established market for this product From $3300 to $3400 per M/T. Most of it is going to China. Trying to establish a comparison between buying containers of frozen at sea boneless skinless fillets 8/16 and 16×32 oz and 1 to 2 kilo H&G and filleting locally.

BRYAN [74.62.112.155] [ May 12, 2015 ]

I am in need of a yield on Skin on sea bass, I’m getting very low yields from what the monger is sending me, typically 30-35% based on belly size.

DAVID BUCHANAN [ May 25, 2014 ]

Thanks Thatcher, and you raise a good point. This info is based upon the standard butchering practices in the United States. Other countries may find the info incorrect as their butchering procedures/expectations may be different.

THATCHER WHITE [76.169.78.220] [ May 25, 2014 ]

Great Work and a general good guide line. However yield is cultural. In some countries the entire fish is used. Even in the fine dinning restaurants. There are benefits of this of course. (Driving down food cost). Along with creating some wonderful dishes that are unusual but very creative.

Otherwise with your measurements you are on.

Sincerly, Thatcher

DAVID BUCHANAN [ Feb 16, 2014 ]

Chuck – thanks for the info! Are you in the industry? If you have additional info contact me at chefs-resources @ msn dot com

CHUCK ANDERSON [173.175.100.248] [ Feb 15, 2014 ]

The yields for some species look a little high as reported here. Head on, gutted Atlantic cod yield 42%-44% for skinless pin bone out (PBO) fillets on average, during non spawning season. Yields during spawning are closer to 38%, but can fall as low as 30%. The cod yields above may be for pin bone in (PBI) fillets, which are not common in the marketplace anymore.

DAVID BUCHANAN [ May 13, 2012 ]

Thanks Ron! Always appreciate getting fish yields. It is so hard to find yields for fish.

RON CALONICA [24.130.224.172] [ May 13, 2012 ]

Tilapia fillet yields= boneless (PBO) fillets: 30-37%, depending on fillet size and final trim

MAGICOFSPICE [ Aug 12, 2010 ]

Great job, this grid is amazing…everything all in one place.

 

 

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