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5 Best Types of Tuna for Sushi

Tuna sashimi blue fin sushi Japanese style

Explore the vast array of possibilities for the best tuna as we delve into the delicious realm of sushi perfection. The choice of tuna can make or break the sushi experience when it comes to raw fish perfection. Picking the best tuna is an art form; from the buttery richness of bluefin to the delicate flavor of yellowfin. Take a culinary voyage with us as we explore the subtleties of taste, texture, and sustainability, leading you through our best recommendations for creating the perfect sushi masterpiece. Discover the marine delicacies that take your eating experience to new heights, whether you’re an experienced sushi lover or a curious novice.

Bluefin Tuna 

Bluefin Tuna 

We start our list with Bluefin Tuna, a popular species caught in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Of all the tuna species, Bluefin is the largest with an average weight between 600 and 1,000 pounds. You will usually find Bluefin served in some of the top sushi restaurants around the world and there is a good reason behind this. It is simply the tastiest tuna on the planet. Its fat and protein are serenely balanced and as soon as Bluefin tuna hits your tongue, it melts perfectly in the mouth when served as sashimi or nigiri. Go to most top-notch sushi restaurants or bars and you will probably see a slab of tuna behind the glass. These are usually from the same cut of Bluefin tuna. You will see a few shades of this cut with the darkest being akami (lean tuna), the slightly lighter shade is chu-toro (medium-fatty tuna), and the lightest, often with healthy streaks of marbleization throughout it is o-toro or fatty tuna. This is also the smoothest-looking of the cuts. 

Southern Bluefin Tuna 

Southern Bluefin Tuna 

Not to be confused with regular Bluefin Tuna, Southern Bluefin tuna comes from the Indian Ocean or other regions in the Southern Hemisphere. This is why it is often referred to as “Indian tuna” throughout Japan. While similar to Pacific Bluefin Tuna, the Southern variety are smaller but the quality is not far off. However, this species is deemed to be critically endangered by The International Union for Conservation of Nature. Therefore, the fishing of Southern Bluefin tuna is becoming more and more strict. In recent years, quotas have started to come into place for the fishing of this tuna. However, overfishing still seems to be an issue in Australia and Japan, the two countries with the highest yearly level of catches. Southern Bluefin tuna is the most expensive tuna after the Pacific Bluefin kind. Compared to Bluefin tuna, the Southern type is a little smaller weighing 250kg on average with a length of around 2.4m. These regions include Cape Town, South Africa, and the coasts of Tasmania, Australia, and New Zealand. If you do manage to find a restaurant that serves Southern Bluefin Tuna, you may not have many more chances to enjoy it if overfishing continues. 

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Bigeye Tuna 

Sliced raw bigeye tuna

Surprise, surprise. The Big Eye tuna is known for having big eyes. Compared to Bluefin tuna, Big Eyes are slightly leaner but their akami tends to be of the highest quality. When we consider its flavor, we are met with a mild, meaty taste. It has a higher fat content than Yellowfin tuna and is especially loved by Sashimi fans. We highly recommend using Bluefin tuna if you’re a toro lover but Bigeye tuna if you’re akami fan.

Yellowfin Tuna 

Sushi tuna in white plate

As the name suggests, Yellowfin tuna is a tuna with, you guessed it, yellow fins. When it comes to flavor, this is not like the tuna you buy in regular cans. It has a deep red color and boasts a sweet, mild flavor. Its texture is quite dense and firm with many comparing it to beef. In Japan, Yellowfin tuna is considered the most commonly found tuna. This is why it is frequently served in many sushi dishes and most sushi bars. When in Japan, any menu that has “tuna” on it and is offered as seared, blackened, cooked, or marinated is probably a Yellowfin tuna. 

Albacore Tuna 

Albacore Tuna sushi white tuna

Now, we come to Albacore tuna. This is regularly used for canned or tinned tuna. When it comes to sushi, Albacore tuna pieces are easily identifiable due to their lighter, rosier colors. They also have quite a rough consistency than most other tunas. Albacore tuna is probably the most affordable tuna in Japan, as well as most regions of the world. This is why you will often see this type of tuna on conveyor belts at various sushi chains, especially in Japan. At Japanese restaurants and bars in the United States, Albacore tuna is often cheaper than all other types of tuna.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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