Albacore Vs. Escolar: Only One is Actually White Tuna

By Rebecca Gardon

o6XQB5O scaled 2Often we’re reminded how much confusion exists for consumers when it comes to seafood. We recently received an inquiry through our Facebook page that further reminded us of one of the most common sources of said confusion: white tuna. Betting some of you have wondered about this very topic, which is why we thought we’d share the following.

CUSTOMER: Hello! Question for you. Is albacore same as escolar? I thought they were different, but noticed on your website – under Albacore it says, “When prepared for sushi it is known as shiro maguro” – but you also refer to the Escolar as shiro maguro. I have never had the escolar until I came to Arkansas. They look like different fish – albacore on the pink side and escolar is opaque white. Thanks much!

CATALINA OFFSHORE: Great question. Escolar is often referred to as butterfish, walu/waloo, or super white tuna. When you see the term “shiro maguro” on a sushi menu it is often either escolar or albacore. This is why we refer to both as shiro maguro, in order to help customers locate whichever one they are looking for. However albacore is the only species allowed to be marketed as “white tuna” in the U.S. so it’s important when dining out to clarify with the chef which one is being served. Escolar can cause gastrointestinal issues in some people due to its high oil content. Thanks for reaching out, and hope this helps explain…

CUSTOMER: Thanks, I think it helps. One question though, so if I order “albacore” and they give me escolar, it’s okay as long as I don’t specifically ask for white tuna? Does that make sense? Never happened to me in California – but has happened a few times here in Arkansas.

CATALINA OFFSHORE: No… if you order albacore specifically you should receive albacore. Labeling escolar as white tuna is a misnomer. Though there are no laws against serving escolar, restaurants and businesses discovered as improperly labeling the fish can be fined. Mislabeling is unfortunately quite common, though less so in coastal areas where seafood is more prevalent. To be sure you are getting albacore, ask the chef specifically for it. Don’t ask for “white tuna” – that’s when you’re likely to get either or. If the menu says white tuna or shiro maguro but doesn’t specify whether it’s albacore or escolar, just ask the chef what fish he is using. Anything labeled “super white tuna” is almost always escolar. Btw, albacore has a pinkish hue while escolar is white. If you get something that looks super white, has a buttery mouthfeel and a full, fatty flavor it’s probably not albacore tuna. Ask questions!!!

CUSTOMER: Thanks so much! Yes, in California we are used to getting the PINKish albacore with ponzu sauce (so delish) but seems rare here in these parts. Thanks so much for the lesson and clarification! Hoping to order from you soon.

CATALINA OFFSHORE: Happy to help! We’re all about educating our customers!

Color comparison of albacore (L) and escolar (R)
albacore v escolar 1

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