The oilfish and escolar are said to be two of the most delicious fish in the world, but there’s a nasty reason why you don’t see them at your local fish market. . .
Apparently, these monstrosities taste even better than fresh caught lake perch and walleye, but they come with some unsettling side effects. If you’re going to eat these fish, you’d better stock up on toilet paper and make sure not to stray too far from a restroom.
See, these fish – which are closely related to snake mackerels – cannot metabolize the wax esters naturally found in their diet. Escolar and oilfish flesh has a wax ester content of around 25%, and in large enough quantities, it acts as a natural laxative.
The condition it causes is known as keriorrhea, which is Greek for “flow of wax” and you can expect anywhere between 30 minutes to 36 hours of explosive orange diarrhea after the meat is consumed – we’ll just stick with perch and walleye thank you very much.
There are two known ways to reduce the likelihood of escolar-induced keriorrhea: The first being to limit portions to six ounces or less or consume portions close to the tail, which typically have a lower wax ester content.
Because of this unpleasant side-effect, countries like Japan and Italy have banned the importation and sale of these fish, while Canada, Sweden and Denmark require they be sold with warning labels. In the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers about the dangers of eating oilfish, but lifted the ban in 1992.
There have been numerous cases of the fish being mislabeled as Atlantic cod, grouper, white tuna and albacore tuna, among others, so be careful with the fish you buy for your next fish fry!