A highly migratory fish, wild Pacific albacore tuna are caught by hook-and-line off of the West Coast of British Columbia. Considered an Ocean Wise best choice, wild Pacific albacore tuna populations are healthy and well managed with harvest directed at the younger three to four year class fish which are comparatively free of mercury accumulation. Trolling for albacore tuna also avoids the bycatch of threatened or endangered sea turtles, sharks and seabirds that are a risk with other harvest methods like purse seining.
While albacore has the highest level of Omega-3s of all tunas, the wild albacore tuna which we harvest in the fall has an especially high oil content and flavourful flesh provided by a diet of anchovies. Our sashimi grade wild albacore tuna loins have a rosy pink flesh that turns ivory when seared and are considered to have a more delicate and melt-in-the-mouth flavour than the ahi (yellowfin and big eye) tunas.
Chef Grant Macdonald of Austin's Trio on albacore tuna:
How to Buy Always ask how the tuna was caught. Troll-, pole-, and line-caught fish are a whole lot better on the environment than trawling nets. When buying albacore tuna, you want to make sure it's from B.C. We're the only place in the world that manages their albacore stock responsibly. Look for a steak that's pink and oily and has a clean, fresh smell. If you head down to the docks at Granville Island to buy from Steve Johansen at Organic Ocean (1505 West 1st Avenue), you can shake hands with the man who caught your fish.
How to Prepare Most common mistake? Overcooking. I think people are afraid, food safety-wise. But if you get fresh seafood and cook it just enough, you're fine. Season albacore tuna with salt and sear for about a minute on each side in a hot, oiled pan. The outside will be brown and crispy, leaving the middle pink. For an easy appetizer, slice the seared tuna and plate it with arugula, diced pears tossed in lime juice and sugar, toasted hazelnuts, bonito flakes, and a lime-and-miso aioli (a spoonful of miso paste to four spoonfuls of mayonnaise plus the zest and juice of half a lime). Finish with a splash of hazelnut oil.