Sometimes, the most luxurious foods are the easiest! This recipe for Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks makes the best seared tuna ever. Easy, light, and packed with umami flavor, they come together in about 15 minutes flat.
Savory Tuna Steaks Recipe
Do you feel like making something a little different for dinner? Maybe there’s a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion coming up? Tuna steaks are a beautiful protein option that’s a little out of the ordinary, and they are easy to work with. Whether you’re avoiding meat or just trying to shake things up a bit, you won’t be disappointed with this restaurant-style ahi tuna recipe! Encrusting the tuna with sesame seeds results in a delicious Asian flair, while protecting the meat during the sear and adding a nutty flavor as the seeds toast. This method also works well with other fish, such as swordfish and mahi mahi.
What Is Ahi Tuna?
“Ahi” tuna can mean both yellowfin or bigeye tuna, although it is most commonly used to refer to yellowfin (which is more widely known). Ahi is quality, sushi-grade tuna, which is a must when searing tuna steaks. This is what you’ll want to use in this recipe for food safety and quality. Ahi is usually available frozen, which I recommend because the freezing process kills bacteria. I don’t recommend using fresh, unfrozen tuna unless you live near the place where it was caught and can verify the quality and freshness. In this recipe, marinated ahi tuna meets a scrumptious sesame seed crust, which is a match made in foodie heaven! Plus, a bit of extra marinade makes a delectable dipping sauce.
Tuna Steaks Ingredients
These sesame crusted tuna steaks only take a short time to pull together, but the flavor combination of soy sauce, mirin, honey, and more is out of this world. Here’s what you’ll need to make flavor-packed seared tuna, right in the comfort of your own kitchen.
- Tuna Steaks: Ahi tuna steaks are the star of this dish. They should be about 1.5-inch thick. If using frozen steaks, thaw them first in the fridge.
- Oil: Vegetable oil, or any high-heat cooking oil that you prefer.
- Soy Sauce: I like low-sodium soy sauce, but regular soy sauce, tamari, and coconut aminos are all fine, too.
- Sesame Oil: Sesame seed oil is super fragrant and adds so much flavor!
- Mirin: You can also use dry sherry.
- Honey: A small amount of your favorite honey adds the perfect touch of sweetness.
- Vinegar: Rice vinegar is a delicate vinegar that’s just right to balance the other flavors.
- Salt: To taste.
- Sesame Seeds: For the crust. Using both black and white sesame seeds makes the finished dish look amazing!
- Seasonings: A combination of garlic powder, salt, and black pepper adds oomph to the sesame seed crust.
How To Cook Tuna Steaks
It’s hard to stress this enough, but really, making restaurant-style tuna steaks is so simple! With just a few steps, you’ll be on your way to a mouthwatering dish that will surely be a big hit.
- Prep the Tuna Steaks. First, pat the tuna steaks dry with clean paper towels. Discard the paper towels, and place the steaks in a large plastic zip-top bag.
- Make the Marinade. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, honey, rice vinegar, and salt in a small bowl. Pour half of the marinade into a small jar or small airtight container (this will be your dipping sauce), then pour the rest of the marinade into the plastic bag with the tuna.
- Marinate. Close the bag and massage the liquid around to coat the tuna steaks. Let it stand for 10 minutes (or refrigerate overnight, if that works better).
- Make the Crust Mixture. Combine the sesame seeds, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle all sides of the tuna steaks with the sesame seed mixture, and press it down to make it stick to the tuna.
- Sear. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Pour in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil, and allow that to heat. Next, gently place the tuna steaks in the pan, pressing them down with a metal spatula. Cook for about 1 to 1½ minutes for rare, or 2 minutes for medium-rare. (I suggest cooking two tuna steaks at a time.) Using tongs, sear the sides of the steaks for about 20 to 30 seconds per side, while holding the fish with the tongs.
- Cool and Serve. Once the tuna steaks are seared on all sides, move them to a cutting board and let them rest for about 3 minutes before slicing. Slice and serve with the reserved marinade for dipping.
Helpful Tips For Making Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks
- Use a Hot Pan: To sear the tuna without overcooking the interior, you’ll want your pan hot enough to sear one side in just seconds. Ahi tuna steaks should be rare or medium-rare, and overcooking them can lead to dry, chewy, hard-to-swallow tuna.
- Cook Time: Keep in mind that the cooking time depends on the thickness of your tuna steaks. A thicker steak will take longer to cook. For medium-rare, you want an internal temperature of around 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an Instant Read Meat Thermometer to check for doneness. NOTE that the USDA does suggest to cook the tuna steaks to an internal temp of 145˚F.
- Quality Tuna: For the best tuna steaks you’ll want top-quality tuna. Good tuna doesn’t smell like fish, but simply fresh, salt water. It will also have moist flesh, and it should not be slimy.
- Sesame Seeds: Press the sesame seeds firmly into the tuna steaks to adhere well during cooking.
- Rest Before Slicing: Let the tuna rest for a few minutes after searing to allow the juices to redistribute.
- Oil Choice: Use a high-smoke-point oil, like vegetable oil or avocado oil, to prevent smoking and ensure a perfect sear.
Tasty Serving Suggestions For Tuna
This recipe is a gourmet main course that couldn’t be simpler to create at home, and here are a few tasty ideas for serving your perfect tuna steaks.
- Asian Noodles: Try these bold Garlic Peanut Noodles or our Teriyaki Noodles alongside your tuna steaks for a unique meal full of pan-Asian flavor.
- Cucumber Salad: Simple Sesame Cucumber Salad is ultra-fresh, and echoes the delicious sesame oil in the tuna marinade.
- Crispy Potatoes: Crispy and cheesy, these Crispy Parmesan Smashed Potatoes go wonderfully with fish. I love how tender and full of flavor they are.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store your leftover tuna steaks, keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serve cold or gently reheated.
- To reheat, saute them in a covered skillet over low heat until warmed, but do not overcook.
- To freeze your leftover tuna steaks, keep them in an airtight container, freezer bags, or aluminum foil inside the freezer. Consume within 3 months for best quality. Make sure to thaw in the fridge before serving or reheating.
Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks
- 4 ahi tuna steaks, about 1.5-inch thick (thawed, if using frozen)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Pat dry the ahi tuna steaks with paper towels, then place them in a large plastic zip-top bag.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame seed oil, mirin, honey, rice vinegar, and salt; remove half of the sauce/marinade and transfer it to a small serving bowl. Set it aside.
- Pour the rest of the marinade into the plastic bag with the tuna. Close the bag and massage the liquid around to coat the tuna steaks. Let stand 10 minutes. (You can also refrigerate overnight.)
- In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the sesame seeds, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Remove the tuna steaks from the bag, sprinkle all sides of the tuna with the sesame seeds mix, pressing down to adhere.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the hot skillet and heat it up.
- Place the tuna steaks in the hot pan, pressing them down with a metal spatula; cook for about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes for rare, or 2 minutes for medium-rare. I suggest cooking two tuna-steaks at a time.
- Using tongs, sear the sides for about 20 to 30 seconds per side, while holding the fish with the tongs.
- Transfer the tuna steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 3 minutes.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the tuna steaks and then serve them with the reserved sauce.
- Heat Matters: Ensure the pan is hot to quickly sear the tuna, keeping the inside tender and preventing overcooking.
- Timing is Key: Cooking time varies with steak thickness. Aim for a medium-rare internal temperature of about 125°F, though USDA recommends 145°F.
- Quality Counts: Choose good quality tuna with a fresh, ocean-like smell and moist, non-slimy flesh for the best results.
- Sesame Seed Adherence: Press the sesame seeds into the tuna steaks to ensure they adhere during cooking.
- Rest Before Slicing: Let the tuna rest for a few minutes after searing to allow juices to redistribute, ensuring a juicy, flavorful bite.
- Cooking Oil: Use a high-smoke-point oil like grapeseed, vegetable, or avocado oil to prevent smoking and ensure a perfect sear.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.