These easy seared ahi tuna steaks are seasoned with sesame seeds and a ginger soy sauce marinade. This extra-quick main course is ready in 20 minutes!
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.
These seared ahi tuna steaks are simple to make, and are so delicious that you’ll giggle with happiness.
Should My Tuna Be Bright Red?
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.
In theory, the taste shouldn’t be affected, but I tend to avoid the gassed tuna.
Quick Tip: Some very high-end ahi tuna is frozen so quickly and at such low temperatures that it will actually turn red again when thawed. BUT– it’s still not bright red when frozen.
Where Should I Buy Ahi Tuna?
Try the grocery store nearest you that has the best quality seafood.
I usually buy my tuna steaks at Trader Joe’s or my local health food store.
Should My Tuna Be Served Rare?
This is totally a matter of personal preference.
In my opinion, quickly seared rare (or medium rare) tuna steaks have the most flavor.
However, if you prefer to cook your ahi tuna steaks a little longer, go right ahead.
Worried about health risks from under-cooked fish? Stick to commercially frozen tuna instead of fresh tuna. (Read more about eating raw or undercooked fish.)
Should I Buy “Sushi Grade” Tuna?
You can if you want to!
BUT– when you’re fish shopping in the seafood freezer aisle, be aware– the “sushi grade” label on tuna isn’t regulated by the FDA.
How to Make Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks
To make these easy seared ahi tuna steaks, start by pouring the easy blended marinade over the tuna.
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 a 12″ cast iron skillet), and when it’s very hot and smoking, sear the tuna about 30 – 45 seconds per side. Then remove it from the pan.
Next, you’re going to make a pan sauce.
Lower the heat to medium, and pour the marinade into the pan along with the lemon juice.
Then, stir, stir, stir with a wooden spoon.
Serve your tuna with the pan sauce and this Japanese-inspired mushroom salad.
Dig in, enjoy, and don’t even bother trying to contain your food-happiness.
Ahi Tuna Steaks with Ginger Soy Sauce
- 2 ahi tuna steaks (~4oz per person)
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce (use gluten-free certified if needed), use low-sodium soy sauce if desired
- 1 tablespoon shaved ginger (or ginger paste)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon wasabi OR 1 tsp horseradish
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 green onions, plus a handful of diced green onion tops for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced (~¼ cup juice)
- Blend vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, wasabi (or horseradish), sugar, and green onion. Taste sauce, adjust seasoning if necessary (adding more soy, sugar, ginger etc if preferred). 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 30-45 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 ½" 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.
- Sweeter Sauce: Add ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice to the sauce.
- Make it a Salad: Add 1 cup orange juice to the final pan sauce, and use the pan sauce as a warm salad dressing. Remove sauce from pan, and add about 4oz fresh spinach to the pan. Toss 30 seconds, until wilted. Serve tuna over the spinach with the warm dressing.