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White Tuna – Sushi Confusion

Everything is not always as it seems. For reasons unknown, restaurants will sometimes sell something under a different name, confusing the customer (at best) and hurting them (at worst). Often, they get away with it, but sometimes… Well… you read the news.

I bring this up because there is an item served at sushi-ya called “white tuna” (shiro maguro), or “super white tuna,” that is sometimes actual white albacore tuna (usually the white tuna), but also sometimes another fish, called ‘Escolar’ (which is usually the super white tuna). Legal requirements aside, it’s bad enough to sell a product that folks think is something else, but particularly with escolar, as some folks just don’t handle that particular fish quite well. As evidenced by an Austrailian Government health editorial, there are oils in that fish that can cause significant gastro-intestinal distress in some individuals. Not fun if you are planning a night out.

Sushi is confusing enough for newcomers, and even those who are very familiar with the dish are sometimes not aware of practices such as this. And this is not to say that all white tuna is Escolar and every restaurant scams its clientèle, but you never know. But if you happen to get it, you’ll know soon enough.

The Sushi Guy

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5 Responses to “White Tuna – Sushi Confusion”

  • Johan Senjaya says:

    Though for some Escolar can be quite troublesome to eat , as it will create a frequent visit to the toiler due to its oily flesh.
    Actually there is a way to eat which is quite palatable , worth the risk of getting the toilet.

    It is the Korean way , and can be considerd an ” acquired taste”
    Frozen the Escolar saku, and once from frozen cut them into bite size portion as you would with regular tuna. While it is frozen, wrap it with dried seaweed and dip it in a bit of salt and sesame oil.

    It taste like “fish icecream” and really melt in the tongue and mouth. Good stuff, but be easy on yourself especially if you are sensitive to escolar.

  • White Tuna is definitely a confusing label. Even four years after you wrote this, we still have a fair amount of confusion between Escolar and Albacore. And you already covered the perils of Escolar, but it is worth noting that Escolar can be confused and/or mislabeled as many, many other fish.

    Ultimately, once you see Albacore and Escolar side by side, you can see that they dont actually look that similar.


    Well, I have had a personal encounter with a Sashimi made with a non real WHITE TUNA. Probably it has been made with a fish from the ESCOLAR family.
    The taste is very similar to a White Tuna, but the result of this dinner stays with me for 2 or 3 days. Was the same feeling after have a dinner with a small size of OIL FISH ( also almost white).

  • Arahu Marsters says:

    I like to say that white tuna or escolar is very safe to eat.The Polynesian people have been consuming escolar for thousand of years, it is a delicacy in mid polynesia where it is plentiful.

    You will not better fish than escolar or white tuna. Those who wish to abstain, please do so.

    Thank you, Arahu Marsters

  • B. Dash says:

    I have eaten white tuna at a local buffet. I now know it is not tuna.
    My additional point is that on this particular buffet is that the reddish colored tuna is dyed and leaks red food coloring on the rice.
    I think the Escolar is being colored to mimic tuna. The flavor is the same, alittle drier but dyed pink to red. Obviously, a new version and those sensitive to Escolar should watch if their fish leaks red color to limit how much thay consume.

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