It’s no secret that we Japanese love tuna. Whether grilled or marinated in soy sauce or served fresh as sashimi and sushi, there’s no denying that tuna, called maguro in Japan, is one of the most popular ingredients in Japanese cuisine. We’re so fond of tuna, in fact, that we have different Japanese names for the fish depending on how fatty the specific piece of tuna is (toro for the fatty part of tuna in general, chu-toro for medium fatty tuna, and ō-toro for the extra-fatty, extra-delicious tuna).

But recently, a rare tuna with an appearance so unusual that has left even experienced fishermen agog with surprise was sold at the famous Tsukiji fish market, causing quite a buzz online in Japan. What made the tuna so special? It was magnificently white, from head to tail! And not to miss the rare opportunity, we went to see the fish on display at a department store in Shibuya.

The tuna that has caused such a stir was a southern bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Bali and was offered up for auction at the Tsukiji market last Friday morning. It immediately attracted attention due to its unusual color, but was sold for a relatively average price of 1,500 yen (US$12.75) per kilo. The tuna measured about 1.9m (approx 6ft 3in) long and weighed in at 118kg (260 pounds), which means the price tag for the entire fish came to 177,000 yen ($1,504).

After being traded at the market, the tuna was going to be sold at the fish shop in the Tokyu Toyoko Department Store located in Shibuya, Tokyo, where they displayed the fish for about an hour during Friday afternoon. They were also scheduled to cut the tuna into pieces for sale right in front of the customers in a kind of ceremonial show the following day on Saturday. We weren’t about to miss such an event, and we hurried off to Shibuya!

However, when we got to the fish shop, we were greeted by a sign telling us that the show had been cancelled!

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Apparently, the white tuna was so rare that it was decided to donate the fish to a scientific institution for further study on why it was such a color, so it wouldn’t end up on anyone’s plate after all.

They did however, have the tuna on display and we were able to see it up-close and take some photos for you.

▼Yes, we’d heard it was a white tuna, but we were still impressed by how white it really was!

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▼Here’s a close-up of the face …

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▼… and shots from some other angles as well.

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▼See that beautiful pearly white color! Even people who’d had 30 years experience working at the market commented that they’d never seen anything like this before.

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▼The tail, which is customarily cut off so that customers at the market can inspect the quality of the tuna meat, was also on display. The agent who purchased the white tuna at the market commented that the meat was a nice red color and looked to be of very fine quality.

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▼Here’s also a short video we shot of the white tuna!

It was too bad we weren’t able to see the tuna expertly cut; we were hoping we could buy a piece of it to take home and cook, and the staff at the fish shop were apparently looking forward to carving and selling the tuna too. But we were still delighted to have the chance to see such an unusual fish, and it seems the many other customers we saw at the store were happy as well. Who knows, maybe the sight of the rare white tuna will bring us some good luck!

Reference: Jiji.com (Japanese)
Photos © RocketNews24