What is White Tuna?

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It’s not a secret that I love sushi and sashimi.  Sometimes I legit crave it, and need it ASAP.  There’s a sushi restaurant nearby that has pretty good food (not just sushi and sashimi, but good bento, ramen, and other Japanese dishes too).  At some point, I discovered this perfectly sized Sushi and Sashimi combination, and this has been my go to when I’m craving some sushi or sashimi.

The arrangement is quite delicious.  There’s 5 nigiri, 5 sashimi, and there is also a tuna sushi roll.  Now, everything is usually delicious and fresh, but there is one sashimi piece that tasted extra fat and buttery that I couldn’t identify.  I proceed to ask the waiter what this piece of fish is.  The response?

“White Tuna.”

If you’re very knowledgeable about fish or seafood, then you’re probably rolling your eyes right now… because you’re right – there is no such thing.  Let me say it again.  White Tuna is not a thing. So what is super white tuna?

Well, let’s back up for a second.  It’s a nick name… sometimes, it can (and you hope it’s this) refer to albacore white tuna or longfin tuna. But most of the time… it’s actually a fish called Escolar and this is the one you might have to worry about.

What is Escolar?  Escolar, aka snake mackerel or waloo, is a dark fast swimming fish that can not metabolize wax esters found in its diet.  Hence, escolars have a very high oil content. In fact, it’s chinese name is ‘油魚’ which literally translates to 油 = Oil 魚 = Fish.

What does this all mean?

This means it may be super tasty to many.  But is white tuna good for you? Unfortunately, not really. It’s so oily it can cause something called keriorrhea.  Don’t click on that if you’re eating.  Actually, don’t read this next sentence if you’re eating:  It’s basically greasy, orange colored diarrhea…

WHAT!?  WHY WOULD PEOPLE EVEN SELL IT.

Well, I guess because it’s delicious? .  But since you can get upset stomach and diarrhea from it, it is recommended that you limit your escolar portions to 6 ounces or less.

Oh, and Fun fact:  Escolar has been banned in Italy and Japan.

Isn’t that fun that so many sushi restaurants here in the States sell it and are allowed to call it “White Tuna” instead?  I find that fun too.  Oh wait.  I don’t.


Still have an appetite?

seafood - fish - paleo

For some seafood you can enjoy without suffering keriorrhea… try these yummy recipes (if you still have an appetite):

 

17 comments

  1. OhEmGeeeee…wow. I had NO idea. My oh my…I’m happy to know and will skip the “white tuna” next time.

  2. Avatar Kevin T Huston says:

    What the article doesn’t say is that it’s the most amazing fish. No other is as tasty as it is. Needless in your mouth. I eat 3 ounces at most and it’s amazing. No stomach issues.

  3. Avatar FARRAH DIPIETRO says:

    I ork at a sushi restaurant. We sell “white tuna” all the time. No one has ever complained of indigestion to me before from this fish. I think the occurrence of sickness from it is less frequent than this article leads to believe.

  4. Oh no, I better warn my adult kids, they eat a lot of sushi and sashimi. Never heard of that before. Great information Tina, thanks.

  5. I’m not a sushi fan but I need to check if that fish is available in the UK, what’s the reason for the ban in Italy and Japan?

    1. Basically for the reasons I listed. Here’s a little more info after a bit more research: “Because of the unpleasant side-effects of eating oilfish and escolar, countries like Japan and Italy have banned the importation and sale of these fish, while Canada, Sweden and Denmark require they be sold with warning labels. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers about the dangers of eating oilfish, but lifted the ban in 1992, because the fish is non-toxic and poses no health risk.” According to: http://www.odditycentral.com/foods/these-fish-are-so-delicious-youll-soil-yourself-literally.html

  6. Wow! I didn’t know that I’m glad that it’s not something I have eaten. Yikes! I’m going to make sure I tell my husband about that because he loves sushi.

  7. Oh my ! White tuna sounds fancy but little did I know it’s something hmm… let’s just stop there. Thanks for sharing the info !

  8. Oh my gosh! I have never heard of this! I can’t believe they’re allowed to sell it. Thanks for the info!

  9. Oh. My. Goodness. HOW is this legal to be sold, let alone under a misleading name like “white tuna”?!

  10. Avatar Irena Macri says:

    Good to know! I’m assuming that happens due to fat malabsorption and digestion? Strange! Regular ol’ pink tuna and salmon are good enough for my sushi fix – I’ll pass on the digestive distress!

  11. haha, I am NOT a sushi fan to begin with, but this isn’t helping. Though I’ll pass this on to my sushi loving family (I am the black sheep)

  12. Wait, what? WTF? I never knew this! Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to watch out for it the next time we get sushi!

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