What Does Albacore Taste Like? Know the Facts

March 8, 2021

What Does Albacore Taste Like? Know the Facts

Albacore tuna, Latin name Thunnus alalunga, is also known as the longfin tuna, or you may also know it as White Tuna. It is a mild, tasty fish found in tropical waters all around the world, especially in mesopelagic and epipelagic areas. Albacore are predators that hunt various types of foods, but they will generally target smaller fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. But what does Albacore Tuna taste like?

As the nickname “White Tuna” might suggest, the meat is a white to light pink color with a solid texture. If you’re looking for white meat that is similar to a chicken breast in terms of both flavor and texture, then the Albacore is the perfect fish. 

Let’s learn more about what does Albacore taste like as well as other Albacore facts.

How is Albacore Better Than Other Types of Tuna?

If you see a can labeled “white tuna,” then it’s most probably Albacore Tuna. Chunk white meat is Albacore that is chopped up into small pieces, while the solid label will refer to larger pieces. Its color is similar to how Cubera Snapper meat looks but tastes closer to Skipjack Tuna or how Yellowtail tastes (or even Dogtooth Tuna).

The Albacore is a large type of tuna and is easy to recognize due to its light-colored flesh. The Albacore is just one of many types of tuna:

The Albacore is the only tuna that has truly white meat.

Albacore Tuna Facts

Albacore tuna fish

The Yellowfin tuna is the most fished tuna amongst commercial fishermen in the U.S, and the Albacore follows as a close second. When you head out to a restaurant or sushi bar, you’ll most likely come across one of these two types of tuna. Albacore is usually served as sashimi or sushi in Japanese restaurants and will be the most expensive tuna option in the supermarket. 

Albacore frequently has temperate and tropical waters and can be found all over the world. Commercial Albacore served on the shelves of a supermarket or at a restaurant is typically caught from the Mediteranean Sea. 

Their diet consists of octopuses, cuttlefish, squid, and smaller fish, making them different from other tuna species. During spawning season, they will reproduce, on average, 2 million eggs per cycle. 

Their nutritional value is similar to other types of tuna. All tuna is typically high in protein, vitamin B-12, and selenium. The Albacore does differ slightly from other types of tuna with their nutritional content. The Albacore contains two fatty acids that are essential for lowering triglycerides. These are DHA and EPA.

Different Types of Tuna Meat

If you’re wondering what type of tuna you’re buying off the  supermarket shelves, here’s a guide to help you understand what’s in those cans:

Light Meat Tuna 

If there is a “light meat” label on the tuna, then this is most probably a fish species called skipjack. Although very similar, the skipjack is technically a cousin of tuna and not true tuna. 

Skipjack is considered a sustainable source of “tuna” as the oceans and seas have a bounty of this species, and it’s also considered an inexpensive fish. Skipjack matures relatively quickly, and they don’t grow into large fish. They also contain lower levels of mercury compared to other fish.

On the other hand, they have a pungent fish taste, and their meat is typically mushy. In contrast, the Albacore has firmer meat and a much milder taste. But, only 30% of canned tuna sold in the supermarket is Albacore. The downside to commercial fishing for Albacore is that they may have higher mercury levels. And, since longline is typically used to catch Albacore, sustainability is questionable. 

What About at a Restaurant?

Yellowfin tuna is most often the fish served at a restaurant. The Hawaiin word for Yellowfin is “ahi,” but that is the same to describe bigeye tuna as well. Sustainability is an issue for Yellowfin tuna as they are grossly overfished. If you want to find sustainable Yellowfin, then seek out Yellowfin that was pole-caught instead. 

Tuna at the Sushi Bar

It isn’t easy to discern which tuna is used at a sushi bar, as most of the time, they will simply describe it at maguro. But in the U.S, most sushi bars will most probably be serving Yellowfin tuna

Is Albacore a Healthy Tuna?

All tuna offers complete protein and high levels of essential fatty acids, among other nutrients. However, the Albacore has a slightly higher content of omega 3s. 

Why is Albacore Tuna More Expensive?

Albacore is typically the most expensive tuna. Why?

The pricing reflects the processing the fish has to undergo once it has been caught. The pricing is also higher because Albacore is unique in the sense that it is the only tuna that can be considered white meat. 

Can You Eat Albacore Tuna Raw?

Albacore caught

Raw tuna could contain parasites. However, it can be consumed raw if precautions are taken. The FDA recommends freezing raw tuna at -4F for at least a week before consuming the tuna raw. 

Is Albacore High in Mercury?

White Tuna, or Albacore, contains an average of 0.32 parts per million mercury. The larger the fish, and the higher up on the food chain, the higher the mercury levels. 

Catching Albacore

The Albacore makes a fantastic fish to target for sport fishermen. They are ferocious swimmers and can clock breakneck speeds. But unlike many other game fish targeted by sport fishermen, the Albacore offers both thrill and taste. They put up quite a fight, and once you land one, the satisfaction doesn’t end there. The Albacore makes for a fantastic meal that is not only delicious but highly nutritious as well. Check out our guide on the best lures for Albacore Tuna to learn more.

There are many places around the world where anglers can find both the Yellowfin and the Albacore. And because they look similar, it can be difficult to discern which tuna you’ve hooked. But there are telltale signs that can distinguish one from the other. You only have to know what to look for. 

Don’t get too confused if you see Yellowtail Tuna referred to as Albacora or Albacore tuna as longfin tuna. In some areas, namely Portugal and Brazil, Yellowtail is referred to as albacore, which is because of its Latin name, Thunnus albacares. In South Africa and Canada, Albacore is called longfin tuna. 

Habitat and Distribution

Yellowfin and Albacore share many similarities, including those found in temperate waters and tropical climates. However, the Yellowfin will typically venture into deeper water than the Albacore. 

Both species will often travel in schools together, and many deep-sea anglers have spotted both Yellowfin and Albacore traveling in the same school of fish together. 

The Albacore will frequent the west coast of the USA. Enthusiastic anglers can find the Albacore in Oregon, California, and even off the coast of Washington. If we head on over to Europe, you can find the Albacore in the Mediterranean, and there is a healthy population of the Albacore tuna in the Bay of Biscay as well.

The Albacore is a global fish found throughout the world’s temperate coastlines. Fishermen in Japan and New Zealand can also target this tasty tuna species as there are jor Albacore populations in these areas. 

Larger, more mature Albacore will remain in water temperatures that range from 57 to 77 degrees. The Juveniles will stay in water temperature between 60 and 67 degrees. 

Appearance: Yellowtail vs. Albacore

Although they may look similar at first glance, a few physical differences set these fish apart. The Albacore is smaller than the Yellowfin. The Albacore will generally remain under 45 pounds, while the Yellowfin can grow up to 130 lbs. 

The Albacore’s pelvic fin is longer than most and extends beyond the second dorsal fin. The Albacore is darker on the top than the Yellowfin and lacks the long yellow horizontal line that the Yellowfin has. 

Did You Know?

Despite being much smaller than the Yellowfin, the Albacore has a longer lifespan and lives up to 12 years. The Yellowfin has a max lifespan of 7 years. They tend to live longer than their Skipjack Tuna cousins.

The Yellowfin also has pale flesh, but it is not as white as the Albacore. The meat is also different- while both are firm, the Albacore is typically drier meat. The Albacore is also the mildest tasting meat, and the Yellowfin has a more pungent taste than the Albacore.

Our Favorite Albacore Recipe

Tuna fish meat cut in pieces albacore red meat

Freshly caught Albacore makes for a fantastic meal. Here is a tasty way to prepare a healthy but delicious, Albacore meal. 

Before you begin, make sure you have a big enough pan to fit the fillets so that the edges do not touch the pan. 

Here’s what you will need: Ingredients

  • 4 x Albacore fillets
  • 4 x peeled garlic cloves 
  • 3 x cups extra virgin olive oil 
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • ½ x tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1 x Tbsp lemon zest 
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • 1x tsp dried chili flakes

Method

Begin by seasoning the fillets.

Sprinkle the fillets with your salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you enjoy with fish. 

Add oil to a large saucepan. The fillets should be snug in one single layer but should not touch the edges.

Add the garlic cloves, chili, bay leaf, and zest to the oil in the pan.

Heat the oil over low heat until you can see the oil beginning to bubble on the pan’s edges. 

Carefully place the fillets into the heated pan.

Allow the fillets to simmer until ready. A 1-inch fillet will take approximately 9 minutes. 

Once the fillets are ready, place them onto a cooling rack or even a plate lined with paper towels. 

Serve with your favorite accompaniments, perhaps some rosemary and thyme roast potatoes and grilled vegetables, or prepare some savory rice and a light side salad. 

Conclusion

Albacore is one of the most common species of tuna people catch and eat. Its mild flavor attracts many flavor palettes and makes it immensely popular. We hope you enjoyed this article on what does Albacore taste like.

Happy Hunting!

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