Artwork: Les Hata © Secretariat of the Pacific Community
ALBACORE TUNA (TOMBO AHI)
Scientific Name: Thunnus alalunga
Hawaiian Name: Ahipalaha; tombo ahi
Japanese Name: Tombo
Commonly called tombo ahi in Hawaii. “Tombo” means dragonfly in Japanese and refers to the very long pectoral fins of the albacore that can equal as much as 30% of the total length.
Depending on size, its flesh ranges from whitish-pink to deep pink in color. It’s the lightest and mildest in flavor of all Hawaii’s tunas. It is suitable for many different preparations. As raw fish, it is softer than the other tunas and is, therefore, more difficult to prepare as sashimi.
Fish caught in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands are large adults (40 to 80 pounds in weight). Hawaii albacore in excess of 50 pounds are preferred. They have a greater yield and more attractive pink color. Smaller albacore less than 20 lbs are sometimes landed in Hawaii that have pale color, but have a rich flavor due to a high fish oil content.
Hawaii albacore is mostly sold fresh.
All Hawaii albacore tuna are line-caught. Most of Hawaii’s albacore tuna are caught by longline fishing gear off shore of Hawaii. The remainder of Hawaii albacore landings come from handliners and trollers. Fresh Hawaii albacore are not caught in purse seine nets.
Peak harvest is from April through October.
Flavor: Moderate to Rich
Suggested Preparations: Raw (sashimi, sushi, poke, ceviche), Seared, Broiled, Baked, Sautéed, Dried, Smoked, Tempura
Restaurants usually grill albacore tuna, but other cooking methods will work as well. It has a tendency to dry out quickly, so it is important to avoid overcooking.
HEALTH & NUTRITION
Hawaii Albacore Tuna is an excellent source of healthy, extra lean protein. It is also low in saturated fat and low in sodium. It is rich in niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium and phosphorus. Hawaii Albacore Tuna is a good source of iodine and magnesium. Hawaii Albacore Tuna also provides about 750 mg of omega-3’s (DHA and EPA) per 4 ounce serving of fresh fish. Click here for nutritional labels and claims.
Click here to download a two-page description of this species.
Current status: Hawaii albacore tuna are being fished sustainably. Overfishing is not occurring in the Hawaii fishery or in the western and central Pacific. Population is not overfished.
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