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Wormy Fish


casemnor
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A few weeks ago, we decided it was time for us to smoke some salmon again. My husband has just about perfected the right cure/dry time etc. So, we went to The Woodlands Market (Central Market's Woodland's venture) and bought a nice side of salmon. It was carefully cured and pressed overnight, and then gotten out to dry and form a pelicle (sp?)

My husband fired up the smoker, and when the time was right, laid the piece of fish in the smoker. About ten minutes later he couldn't resist a peek to make sure the smoke was the right volume or for whatever reason. Imagine our dismay when we saw tons of horrible little roudn worms squirming out of the fish!!! Awful! Not unheard of, but awful nonetheless. I was under this rosy misconception that farmed fish (it was farmed salmon) are dosed for worms.

Worse, was the fishmonger's reaction when I called the shop to inform them of the issue. Her response "Oh that's totally normal, about 60% of the fish we sell has worms. Anything that comes from the warm gulf waters, chances are it has worms." The implications were horrifying for me. Once you know something, you can never unknow it. She then tried to tell me that most pork had worms too. It was not comforting at all...worse, they wouldn't refund me my full amount as the fish had lost weight due to the curing process.

What I want to know, is if this is true? Are the fish sold at our local markets typically infested with worms? I'm sure they are harmless, but I just would have rather not known or been told that just about any fish we buy is going to have worms.

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First, I would question the fish guy's knowledge. Salmon is not a warm water gulf fish. :raz:

Next, I have to disqualify myself from addressing the smoking environment. I mean to try it as soon as I get my hands on some fresh fish. My last opportunity was some large trout and redfish we caught. Then, my nephew cooked it up for a bunch of friends before I got my hands on it. GRRR!!! :angry:

But I have cooked our local warm water fish including really big specimens that would be expected to have worms if any would. Slow cooking methods have not revealed any worms and the temperature is comparable. If the smoke environment makes a difference, I don't know. It is pretty common to see various parasites jump off the gills when the fish hits the deck but I have never seen what you describe. ICK! YUCK! EEWWW!!!

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I guess even more disturbing than observing the worms was the fish monger's reaction. Like it was totally normal. She also told me it wan't just salmon with worms, but all the sea trout, red fish and gulf snapper. She also said it was better to buy previously frozen fish because that kills the worms. Like that makes it all better!

When I returned the fish there was still a big pile of the salmon in the open case....and all I could think about was the worms crawling around and infecting all the fish.

Horrors.

I am afraid it has put us off fish for now. At least until we return to Oz where we never ever even entertained wormy fish in the realm of possibilities.

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That's revolting! Although, I had a friend a long time ago who worked in the meat dept at a grocery store and she wouldn't eat ANY fish and cited this same reason. But I've eaten fish for a long time and I've never gotten sick from it. I've also never seen any of these worms, so that makes a huge difference. I think if I saw them, it might be the end of fish in my diet. I love pork too.....I suppose it's better that the worms are crawling out instead of staying in the food you've cooked :raz:

Ahhhh....another wrinkle in my day....I was preparing to grill stuffed pork chops :wacko:

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I've also never seen any of these worms, so that makes a huge difference. I think if I saw them, it might be the end of fish in my diet. I love pork too.....I suppose it's better that the worms are crawling out instead of staying in the food you've cooked :raz:

Ahhhh....another wrinkle in my day....I was preparing to grill stuffed pork chops :wacko:

Well, if you are interested she told me how to spot the dead worms in already cooked fish. I wish she would have just responded with "That's terrible! Awful! We'll look into it and make sure we don't sell wormy fish."

As for the worms in pork, I refuse to believe it! If I am in denial then so be it. There are some things in life you just don't want to know (which is the theory I espouse when I layinto some good taco truck tacos!)

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I wish she would have just responded with "That's terrible! Awful! We'll look into it and make sure we don't sell wormy fish."

As for the worms in pork, I refuse to believe it! If I am in denial then so be it. There are some things in life you just don't want to know (which is the theory I espouse when I layinto some good taco truck tacos!)

LOL...I think we live in the same bubble :laugh:

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If you care to share, I would be interested to know.

She told me that after you cook the fish, if you painstakingly pull the flakes of the muscle apart you will sometimes see the cooked roundworms as you pull them apart. They appear as miniscule string like things (the worms we saw were the size of human hair in thickness). She also told me that if you look at fresh cod and see what looks like a little blood vein and you irritate it, it will curl up and reveal itself to be a little worm.

I'm not sure how scientific her instructions were, by this point I was hoping she would just SHUT UP AND STOP TALKING ABOUT WORM IN EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF FISH EVER.

:angry:

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I have heard of cod having worms, but not salmon, which is definately a from "warm gulf waters." I've never heard of redfish, snapper, seatrout, dolphinfish(mahi), or any of our GOM fish having worms. That's gross!

Pork can and many times does have a parasite called trichinosis. It can be killed by cooking the pork well. You never want to eat rare pork. The trichinosis parasite lodges itself in the muscle of the meat. If you eat raw pork the parasite then can get into your bloodstream and muscle. I'm not sure what happens to you but you don't want to try it.

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Well first off we have a little saying here in Seattle "FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS EAT FARMED FISH".

I have never seen/heard or found worms in my salmon and believe me we eat a lot of it!! As far as the "warm water" thing I know that salmon is caught in the bay area of CA, is that considered warm (vs. WA, Canada and Alaskan). Also, what kind of salmon is this???

I think that this should be moved to Gen Food so that "fish experts" can chime in!

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I don't think of salmon as a warm water fish. What we call warm water gets to the mid to high 80s in the summer. I am a cold water weenie and I can't bear to stick a toe into northern California or PNW waters and I am sure that Alaskan waters would be out of the question.

I took some parasitology courses a bunch of years ago and as part of an ichthyology course. I know more than I like about the subject and think I would recognize a wormy fish. I can say that I have run into it a couple of times while fileting a really big speckled trout, redfish or snapper. Soooo... I am going to continue to delude myself that it is uncommon. :blink::biggrin:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I've seen the chefs butchering a whole swordfish and that quite often has BIG NASTY worms in it. They look more like a smooth caterpillar :blink:. They just pull them out with a needlenosed pliers and keep going. Ever notice that swordfish sometimes has little "pockets" in a steak? That where the worm was.

I never eat swordfish anymore. Too skeeved.

Katie M. Loeb
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I've seen the chefs butchering a whole swordfish and that quite often has BIG NASTY worms in it.  They look more like a smooth caterpillar :blink:.

I never eat swordfish anymore.  Too skeeved.

OMG :unsure: that must be why I don't like swordfish to begin with....I KNEW there was something about it that made me gag. Thanks for the visual, Katie, :laugh:

Edited by NVNVGirl (log)
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Does anyone know what ill-effects one might experience after eating fish with worms?

Whether rare pork is safe or not has been discussed here.

Most parasites in raw fish, used for sushi or sashimi, have no effect on humans. But there is the possibility of tapeworm, and it has been a small problem in Japan.

The worm can grow to great lengths in the human digestive system, and steal enough nutrient to make the body thin. It can be treated easily by a doctor, and you won't get it from a cooked fish.

I thought trichinosis was and old problem, not often seen in current generations of swine. My father, a vet, always claimed it was potentially present in beef, at lower incidences.

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I have seen the worms in fish. Always amberjack caught in the warm waters of the upper Gulf coast. I would think the waters off the west coast would be too cold to harbor this type of parasite. I do not eat amberjack anymore, or tilefish either. But nothing is better than fresh red snapper or triggerfish.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Due to the broad interest in this topic, I am moving it from Texas to General Food Topics.

Carry on... :biggrin:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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i've found some pretty nasty stuff in fresh ahi and sword-the worms kinda leave a "melting hole" where they've burrowed through the muscle. This is either cut out and discarded-if possible-or loin returned to fish dude.

I've cured quite a few lbs of farmed salmon and every now and then i run across the same telltale holes after curing. Never found the culprits as i'm sure the salt did it's work on them ;). They hit the dumpster btw if you were wondering....

danny

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I've seen the chefs butchering a whole swordfish and that quite often has BIG NASTY worms in it.  They look more like a smooth caterpillar :blink:.  They just pull them out with a needlenosed pliers and keep going.  Ever notice that swordfish sometimes has little "pockets" in a steak?  That where the worm was.

I never eat swordfish anymore.  Too skeeved.

oohhh. I've seen those little holes. I've always assumed they were vein holes or something. Just as well, I've never really cared much for swordfish! :unsure:

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Heh... I can see the headlines now...

FIN FISH MARKET COLLAPSES

THOUSANDS OUT OF WORK

In a rare turn of the market, sales of fin fish have plummeted. While not confirmed, this may have started with a discussion on a food website. Our roving reporter interviewed diners at Legal Seafood as they were sending their swordfish steak back to the kitchen. "I just read that thread here on my Blackberry. It was just too much information." said Joe Bleaux.

On an optimistic note, Woods Hole reports that fish populations are expected to rebound.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Harold McGee's revised On Food and Cooking will include a new chapter on Fish and shellfish. I'm looking at an uncorrected proof, so I won't be quoting anything, although I suspect the final edition will be a source of reference and be quoted many times in these forums. There are a couple of paragraphs on parasites that could put people off on eating fish altogether, although maybe not. The first microscope didn't stop people from drinking water just because they saw microscopic things swimming around in it. The problem arises when the stuff is big enough to see with the naked eye. So those little threads in salmon are really worms. Damn, just when I had managed to convince myself they weren't. Freezing kills most parasitic worms, as does cooking. I've been told that salmon is rife with worms and that all salmon sold as sushi or sashimi must be frozen before it's served. I've always wondered about the rare salmon that's served in fine restaurants. Is it frozen, is it safe? It appears that farmed salmon is less prone to worms than wild salmon, but that isn't a guarantee and it isn't enough reason to favor it or think it healthier for me or the environment. All of this is fascinating, but I can enroll in a brainwashing after I've learned all I can, so I can go back to enjoying fish?

McGee's book is due on the shelves in about a month and he'll be here for a Q&A on November 8

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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I have read that various fish parasites are more common in warm waters than cold, and in fresh water than salt (isn't that why salmon for sushi is typically either smoked or previously frozen, because there are parasites that are prevalent in estuarial fish more than ocean-only fish?). However, my first fish worm experience was on an island off the coast of New Hampshire, where we were eating fish (maybe cod, don't remember, something white and rather large-flaked) caught by a local Georges Bank fisherman. There was a roundworm, certainly thicker than a hair--maybe 1-2mm and maybe 2" long, quite dead, waiting for me between the layers of the flesh. The marine scientists I was with explained that such parasites are not uncommon and that the cooked fish is harmless, so I set the worm on the edge of my plate and ate my supper (we were all scientists there).

I had a similar experience last year with some similar fish (again, don't remember variety for sure) from my most trusted local fishmonger. I thought I would tell him about it (just so he would know, not expecting any compensation, obviously I know that these things just occur sometimes) but I didn't go in the following week and then, of course, I forgot about it. I still shop there regularly, but I would probably refuse to go back to your market and I would want to tell them why. An occasional, solitary worm, big enough to pick out, I can deal with, though I know that plenty of folks would be sufficiently grossed out by that. But if my side of salmon was wriggling with multiple little guys, enough that I'd have to assume I was eating worms along with the fish, that's just too icky, even for me! :shock: I would think any American food retailer would be concerned about what I might tell my friends about that and want to smooth it over, not plant the idea that most of the fish they sell is in similar condition. I'm a Yankee, but I can't believe that the average Texan shopper is enticed by the thought of thoroughly wormy fish. And what's the deal about they didn't refund the whole price? Your fish is full of worms and they won't refund the whole price because what, maybe you already ate some?!! Did you bring the evidence back to the market?

I'd be interested to know if that fish counter person eats fish at all, consdering what she (at least thinks she) knows about the subject. If she doesn't, maybe there should be some meditation on what she is employed to do, which is sell the fish, not warn you away from it.

Fern

Edited to say that I see Bux has the same impression about salmon, but types faster than I do.

Edited by Fernwood (log)
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Your fish is full of worms and they won't refund the whole price because what, maybe you already ate some?!!   Did you bring the evidence back to the market?

They refunded full price by the pound. Only problem is that after all the worms have crawled out of the fish, it was much lighter. :biggrin:

Edited by Laksa (log)
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