I just wrote a love poem to my tuna– want to hear it? ‘Ahi Tuna, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thy flavor and freshness and–‘ Okay I’ll stop. Seriously, though, ahi tuna is FANTASTIC. If you’ve never tried it, it’s typically served either raw or VERY lightly seared. It also tends to be on the pricey side at restaurants, which is tragic, because I want to eat it ALL. THE. TIME. The solution to my (and your) tuna-budget woes is to cook it at home. This Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna with Ginger Soy Sauce is simple to make, and is so bursting with delicious flavors that you’ll giggle with happiness.
If you’ve eaten ahi tuna before, you’ve probably seen bright, ruby-red fish on your plate. Tuna’s signature bright red color actually begins to fade as soon as it’s caught, but some companies spray their tuna with a carbon monoxide gas to enhance the red and make it “prettier.” That’s why you’ll see both pale pink and bright red tuna steaks when you’re shopping. The taste shouldn’t be affected, but I tend to avoid the gassed tuna. If you’re worried about price, but still want to avoid the (usually cheaper) gassed tuna, Trader Joe’s sells tuna steaks that aren’t bright red. I’ve also found some locally at a health food store for about $6 for 2 steaks– not bad at all!
Making Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna
Once you’ve got your hands on these tasty fish steaks, go ahead and get excited. Start this Seared Ahi Tuna by thawing your tuna steaks, and then make the ginger soy marinade by blending rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, green onion, and wasabi. If you can’t find wasabi, you can substitute horseradish and crushed mustard seeds, and it will still be delicious. Pour the marinade over the tuna, and leave it alone for about 10 minutes. Make sure not to throw out the marinade when you cook the steaks– you’ll use it later. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the tuna (on either both sides or just one side– it’s totally up to you). Heat oil on high in a heavy bottom pan (I use cast iron), and when it’s very hot and smoking, sear the tuna for 15 – 30 seconds per side, and then remove it from the pan. Don’t cook it longer– take it off the heat! Overcooked tuna is a very sad thing. Turn the heat to medium, and let the pan cool a little. Next, you’re going to make a pan sauce. Pour the marinade into the pan along with the lemon juice, and stir, stir, stir with a wooden spoon. Serve the Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna with your finished Ginger Soy Sauce. I like to slice my tuna steaks almost all the way through, so that I can fan them out all fancy-like, but you don’t have to do that unless you want to! Serve your tuna with a big green salad, dig in, enjoy, and don’t even bother trying to contain your food-happiness.
Note: When you’re fish shopping in the seafood freezer aisle, you might be tempted to pay extra for the “sushi grade” label, but be aware– It means nothing. And by nothing, I mean that it isn’t regulated by the FDA. Maybe you already knew this– after all, there are lots of unregulated food labels on American grocery store shelves. I wasn’t clued into this particular label scaminess until reading this Ahi Tuna Poke recipe over at Ready to Yumble.
*Seafood Safety: Here’s the thing about eating undercooked or raw fish– it needs to be frozen to kill any parasites or other nastiness.* I was inclined to say that very fresh fish is best, but even sushi restaurants selling fresh fish will often flash freeze their fish for food safety. Keep in mind, your home freezer doesn’t get cold enough– FDA regulations are pretty specific– and unless you have a commercial-grade freezer, you’re better off with frozen fish. Personally, I buy frozen fish for my raw or barely cooked seafood adventures. Also Note: I’m not a doctor, and I’m not giving medical advice here. If your doctor says you shouldn’t eat raw fish because you’re at a higher risk for getting sick (i.e.– if you’re pregnant or have a different medical condition that makes it unsafe), talk to them, not me, before chowing down on this lovely tuna.
Want more seafood? Try these:
Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna with Ginger Soy Sauce
- 2 ahi tuna steaks (~6oz per person)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 TB ginger paste (or shaved ginger)
- 1 TB minced garlic
- 1 tsp wasabi OR 1 tsp horseradish and 1/2 tsp crushed mustard seeds
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 green onions, sliced, plus more for garnish (optional)
- 1 TB sesame seeds
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
Blend vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, wasabi (or horseradish and mustard seeds), sugar, and green onion. Taste sauce, adjust seasoning if necessary (adding more soy, sugar, ginger etc if prefered). Marinate tuna steaks in blended sauce for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of tuna at end of marinade.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan (like a cast iron pan) on high, until oil is very hot. Reserving marinade for later, sear tuna for 15-30 seconds per side, then remove from pan. Reduce heat to medium and allow pan to cool slightly. Add marinade to pan with lemon juice, and stir with a wooden spoon. If sauce is too thick for your liking, add more lemon juice. Remove sauce from heat.
Slice tuna in thin long strips. If desired, leave about 1/2" at one end of the tuna steak uncut, and serve fanned on a plate with ginger soy pan sauce and extra green onion to garnish.
Sauce adapted from: Food Network