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Fat Guy

"White tuna"

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In the past couple of years, something called "white tuna" has started appearing at sushi bars all over New York City (and presumably elsewhere in the English-speaking world). What is it? I assume it's not tuna.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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At first, I thought it was simply albacore, but I learned that it could also mean escolar.

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Escolar is delicious, widely-available, and fairly cheap. Everybody wins!

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Escolax... :huh: we don't see it in Japan, so I don't know if its reputation is justified, but certainly some other deepsea fish are also reputed to cause problems for some people.

"White tuna" - if you never heard albacore called white tuna before now, maybe it's not referring to albacore. Any pictures?

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Yep, escolar and not any kind of alabacore. Delicious, but with a nasty side effect due to gamma 3 something content. Or so I was told my the itamaesan when I tried to order more the first time.

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Yep, escolar and not any kind of alabacore. Delicious, but with a nasty side effect due to gamma 3 something content. Or so I was told my the itamaesan when I tried to order more the first time.

Now you've got me worried. I've been ordering white tuna for years here on the West Coast; sometimes I have actually seen it translated on the menu as albacore, and I always assumed that was the case. It is often served here (unlike other tuna) with a small dollop of garlic paste, which makes it taste even more delicious. I try not to eat any tuna on a regular basis, but next time I'm out for sushi I will ask a few questions.

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White Tuna is Escolar, and if you eat a lot (15+ slices of sashimi) you can start to have gastrointestinal discomfort. Ive been told its banned in Japan for this reason. It has somthing to do with fat that we cannot digest.

It is tasty when fresh and cold, but gets weird and mushy the older it gets. Its almost sweet.

Nate

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I eat quite a bit in one sitting (8 pieces of sashimi) and have never had a problem, and none of my friends have either.

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its also known as Butterfisb and does indeed carry some GI distress. At any place we've ever served it we've tried to limit it to less than four ounces a portion to help limit this effect. If you don't eat too much of it it shouldn't be that bad.

Its unfortunate that the fish is delicious and makes you want to eat a lot of it.

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I spent a confusing hour yesterday trying to get some clarification and came on that same website as mizducky, plus numerous others which made less and less sense the more I read. The use of the term Butterfish further muddies the water, since it appears to be a misnomer in this case for Oilfish and Escolar instead of the way I've seen it used on the west coast as one more name for Black Cod or Sablefish. I've never had any digestive issues from that fish, whatever it's called, and I eat more of that in a serving than I do when I eat a few pieces of "white tuna" as sushi. I am assuming that the use of butterfish is a red herring here. Well, you know what I mean.

My most reliable source of fish info is usually the Monterey Bay Aquarium website. Escolar doesn't come up on any search there, which is amazing to me. Sablefish/Black Cod/Butterfish is high on their list of sustainable healthy fish, and they note that served raw as sushi it would be listed as gindara, which is something I have never seen on a menu, although perhaps I just dismissed it.

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