Skip to main content

What is Escolar Sashimi and its Side Effects? Dangerous like Fugu?

Escolar is an elongated large species of fish or snake mackerel which is found in temperate and tropical oceans worldwide.  What is intriguing about this fish that its diet contains food that have a type of wax or fatty acid.  This wax is not metabolize by the Escolar so hence the very oily skin.


In Japan, this type of snake mackerel has been proven to be quite popular in the seafood markets and can be found on many restaurant menus. Even though it is considered a controversial food(read further), the fish has an incredible rich flavor described as “buttery”, “fattier” and succulent”.

Possible dangers of escolar 

According to the recent reports, it has been shown that the escolar brings illness to a certain amount of people who consume it due to the waxy and oily substance found on the skin of the fish.  It is very hard for humans to digest it.  Some of the possible side effects include: abdominal pains, diarrhea and cramping.

One of symptoms is that after 24 hours of consumption your bowel will become irritated and for many, extreme oily diarrhea. A person who has eaten escolar said that it was the worse aftermath feeling and had to continuously go the bathroom for many hours. Therefore many will avoid the consumption or take them in smaller quantities especially in Japan where it is difficult to decline when someone offers it to you.

How to reduce the likelihood of becoming sick when you have consumed escolar ?

1.Simply Reduce the quantity!

It is recommended that you take not more than six ounce per portion. This will hopefully reduce the possibility of you becoming sick. 

2.Change the methods of cooking 

Bake the fish on a rack. This will cause the juice which doesn’t contain wax esters to drip off. The skin also needs to be removed as it has high oil count. 

SelDeLaTerre Escolar by snowpea&bokchoi, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Pan seared way - by snowpea&bokchoi;

3.Escolar should be fresh 

Because the oil content is high, escolar normally boils faster than ordinary fish.   Also, it is recommended to cook it within two days after purchasing it.  Make sure that it is store in a cool freezer or tightly packed in ice packs in the cooler if being transported.

How do the Japanese consume it?

As mentioned, it is a very popular food in Japan. It is normally consume it raw by slicing it into small pieces also known as sashimi(exist many types).

live scallop, escolar by stu_spivack, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by stu_spivack

The consumption of it has been banned in Japan ?

In Japan, the government has taken a step of prohibiting the consumption of escolar because of the dangers posed by this type of food. Nevertheless, Denmark, Sweden, and Canada have also followed suit by coming up with warning labels of escolar.

In 1992, FDA lifted the ban of escolar since it is non toxic. But, it will definitely cause diarrhea but will not kill you like the possibily of a puffer fish(fugu). Instead, they advise people to eat the food in small quantities. 


Despite the fact that escolar results in adverse side effects when consumed, it is very delicious and buttery. However, avoid large portions as it will result in dangerous situations. Gastrointestinal distress will not occur if you consume fewer amounts. 

Resources: thekitchn

Sponsored Links