Maguro (Binnaga) Sushi

binnaga sushi

What is Binnaga ビンナガ 【鬢長】?

In Japanese, the albacore tuna is called binnaga. It is a relatively small species of tuna (maguro). Binnaga is considered a valuable edible fish and is of great economic importance. In recent years, his meat has become increasingly popular for making sushi or sashimi even outside Japan.

Binnaga as an Ingredient for Sushi and Sashimi

Several freshly caught albacore tuna, also known as longfin tuna, are lined up on the floor.
Characteristic of the albacore (binnaga) tuna are its long pectoral fins, so it is also called longfin tuna.

For sushi and sashimi, mainly individuals caught in cold regions are suitable. In contrast to specimens from warmer regions, these have a significantly higher fat content. The fat meat of these fish is called bintoro>, occasionally the term is also used for whole specimens from cold regions. Binnaga from warm waters, on the other hand, lack the necessary fat content to produce a full-bodied umami flavor. The fatty meat is tasty and preferred for the preparation of sushi and sashimi. The lean red meat (akami, あかみ), on the other hand, is less interesting and is rarely used as an ingredient for sushi or sashimi.

The remarkably bright, fatty meat is slightly sweetish, barely sour, very tender and melts well on the tongue. A common method of preparation is the tataki method (たたき), in which the meat is heated briefly and then quenched with ice water. This keeps the meat inside still raw, the texture gains firmness and its taste becomes more aromatic. The meat of the binnaga should be light in color, from white-pink to deep pink and should not show any bloodstains or bruises.

Compared to other tunas, binnaga is much cheaper, milder in taste, paler in color and less firm. Binnaga is usually found fresh, smoked or processed as high quality canned fish. It is one of the most economically significant edible fish of our time and is considered a popular main ingredient or side dish in many dishes worldwide. Binnaga is regularly used as a filling for Japanese rice balls (onigiri, お握り) which are offered in Japanese convenience stores (konbini, コンビニ). Binnaganigiri-zushi or sashimi is a popular ingredient in cheap sushi restaurants, supermarkets and conveyor belt sushi restaurants (kaitenzushi, 回転寿司).

Best Season

Binnaga sushi or sashimi is a popular winter dish. Due to the global spread and good logistical availability, the fish is also available all year round in good quality.

Characteristics & Ecology

Adult binnaga reach a total length of 140 cm and weigh 60 kg. However, most landed fish have a size of 50 to 100 cm. Binnaga is a worldwide common deep-sea fish, which is mainly found in the upper and middle layers of water and penetrates in depths of at least 380 meters in the Pacific and up to 600 meters in the Atlantic. They cover very large distances and form groups with other conspecifics of the same age. Its preferred water-temperature is between approximately 16 and 20°C. As a predatory fish, it feeds on a wide range of smaller schooling fish, crustaceans and squid.


The diagram shows the worldwide catches of albacore
The four largest fishing nations account for more than half of the world's catch of binnaga.
  1. Science assumes that there are at least two stocks in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that spawn at different times of the year.


© k harata. 南紀・那智勝浦浦島での鬢長マグロ解体. 2011-06-04,



For copyright and author information, see the "Image Credits" section.

Native Range

Source: Kaschner, K., K. Kesner-Reyes, C. Garilao, J. Segschneider, J. Rius-Barile, T. Rees, and R. Froese. 2019. AquaMaps, Scarponi, P., G. Coro, and P. Pagano. A collection of Aquamaps native layers in NetCDF format.


As a general rule, do not eat ingredients that are not explicitly labeled for raw consumption.

Consumption may lead to amnesic shellfish poisoning caused by shellfish that have accumulated domoic acid, a neurotoxin produced by some strains of phytoplankton. Gastrointestinal symptoms can appear 24 hours after ingestion of affected molluscs. Boiling or freezing affected seafood does not reduce toxicity.

Be careful if your ordered fish has an unnaturally bright red or a pungent pink. Tuna is occasionally dyed with plant extracts containing nitrate or with carbon monoxide, a gas that is also a component of wood smoke and prevents the meat from discoloring. With these methods, only the colour is preserved, regardless of the freshness and age of the fish. This method of treatment makes it almost impossible to distinguish a fresh tuna from a spoiled one.

The naturally have high levels of enzymes causes the meat to let it rot quickly. It is therefore essential to maintain an appropriate cold chain until prompt processing. Histamine is not destroyed by normal cooking temperatures, so even properly cooked fish can still result in poisoning.

References & further reading

  • [Collette & Nauen, 1983]: Bruce B. Collette, Cornelia E. Nauen. Species Catalogue, Vol. 2, Scombrids of the World. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Tunas, Mackerels, Bonitos and Related Species Known to Date, FAO Fisheries Synopsis, Vol. 2 (125). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. 1983
  • [Dhurmeea et al., 2016]: Zahirah Dhurmeea, Iker Zudaire, Emmanuel Chassot, Maria Cedras, Natacha Nikolic, Jérôme Bourjea, Wendy West, Chandani Appadoo, Nathalie Bodin. Reproductive Biology of Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga) in the Western Indian Ocean. PLOS One Vol. 11 (12). Public Library of Science, San Francisco. 2016
  • [FAO FishstatJ, 2020]: Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics. Global production by production source 1950-2018 (FishstatJ). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. 2020. Retrieved online on: December 24, 2020
  • [Farley et al., 2013]: Jessica H. Farley, Ashley J. Williams, Simon D. Hoyle, Campbell R. Davies, Simon J. Nicol. Reproductive Dynamics and Potential Annual Fecundity of South Pacific Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga). PLOS One Vol. 8 (4). Public Library of Science, San Francisco. 2013
  • [Froese & Daniel, 2019]: Rainer Froese, Pauly Daniel. FishBase. The Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, 2019. Retrieved online on: December 24, 2020
  • [MAFF, 2019]: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (農林水産省). Sea-area Fishery Production Survey (海面漁業生産統計調査), 2018 Fisheries/Aquaculture Production Statistics (平成30年漁業・養殖業生産統計), Marine Fisheries Department (海面漁業の部), Department sea surface aquaculture (海面養殖業の部), Inland fishery aquaculture department (内水面漁業・養殖業の部). e-Stat, Government Statistical Office (政府統計の総合窓口). 2019. Retrieved online on: December 24, 2020
  • [Selengut, 2018]: Becky Selengut. Good Fish: 100 Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast. Sasquatch Books, Seattle. 2018
  • [Trenor, 2009]: Casson Trenor. Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley. 2009

Image credits



Drawn illustration for  binnaga

Common names

long-finned albacore, long-finned tuna, albacore, long-fin tunny, longfin tuna

Japanese names

  • abako (アバコ)
  • binchou (ビンチョウ)
  • binchōmaguro no toro (ビンchōマグロ ノ トロ)
  • binnaga (ビンナガ)
  • bintoro (ビントロ)
  • kanta (カンタ)
  • kantarou (カンタロウ)
  • shibimaguro (シビマグロ)
  • tonbo (トンボ)
  • tonboshibi (トンボシビ)

蜻蛉鮪, 鬢長

Scientific name

Thunnus alalunga


Mackerels, tunas and bonitos


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