We can all agree that there are few things more embarrassing than sudden, public diarrhea.
If forgetting to zip your fly is a one on the scale of public embarrassment, and tripping down an entire flight of stairs is maybe a four, explosive diarrhea has got to be an 11 or 12. With this in mind, you’re really taking your social life in your hands when you eat this bizarre but incredibly delicious fish in front of friends.
That’s because the flesh of the baramutsu, or oilfish, is laced with outrageously high levels of indigestible wax esters, which are kind of like syrup of ipecac that work in the other direction, if you will.
▼ It’s also incredibly ugly.
So why would anyone consume this fish other than for the express purpose of relieving constipation? Because the oilfish is apparently so delicious, it’s served widely in many Asian countries, where it’s consumed knowing full well the embarrassing and uncomfortable side effects.
It’s true that many people are tolerant enough of wax esters that small to medium-sized portions of the fish can be safely consumed, but the rich-tasting fish is allegedly so good that those unfamiliar with the side effects have been known to consume seconds, resulting in, if they’re lucky, an emergency bathroom visit.
In Japan, apparently due to the unpleasant side effects from eating the fish, the import of it has been banned since 1970. Some media sources claim the fish cannot be sold either, although others say it can. which makes us just a little scared to eat white fish anymore because you’re kind of playing diarrhea Russian Roulette doing that.
▼ Any one of these white ones could be oilfish.