Seared Ahi Tuna

JapaneseGluten-FreeLow CarbFish and Seafood

Ahi tuna, also known as yellowfin tuna, marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, green onion, and lime juice, then pan seared.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

After completing graduate school in the late 80s, I spent a year studying martial arts at Kyoto University in Japan.

The school cafeteria served many things that one would never encounter in the states (natto spaghetti for example), but one thing they did serve that I couldn’t get enough of was seared ahi tuna, prepared fresh to order.

It was usually served with white rice, a little shoyu, some radish sprouts, a few slivers of nori, and some toasted sesame seeds. One ample serving may have cost as much as 200 yen (~$2) but I think it was probably less.

Inspired by a recipe for seared ahi in the South Beach Diet Cookbook, I found some gorgeous steaks at Whole Foods. The South Beach recipe called for the steaks to be seared with peppercorns, but I was looking for a more Asian twist, so I made up my own marinade with tamari, sesame oil and ginger.

Ahi tuna is also known as yellowfin tuna. To make seared ahi, you need to start with very fresh, sushi-grade ahi, as you will only be lightly searing the outside, leaving the inside raw. Not even rare, but raw. The freshness and the quality of the fish make a huge difference with this dish, so don’t even attempt it with a lower grade of fish.

Seared Ahi Tuna Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (6-8 ounce) ahi tuna steaks (3/4 of an inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or 2 teaspoons of wheat-free tamari for gluten-free option)
  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion (scallion) thinly sliced (a few slices reserved for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Method

1 Marinate the tuna steaks: Mix the marinade ingredients together and coat the tuna steaks with the marinade, cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2 Sear the tuna: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high to high heat. When the pan is hot, remove the tuna steaks from the marinade and sear them for a minute to a minute and a half on each side ( even a little longer if you want the tuna less rare than pictured.)

3 Slice and serve: Remove from pan and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. Sprinkle with a few green onion slices.

Can serve plain, with white rice, or over lettuce or thinly sliced cabbage or fennel. Shown served over sliced fennel salad.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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83 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Michael

    Absolutely delicious and super easy! I’ve never made tuna before and I can say that I will use this recipe every time I make it. Wish it was a bit more clear on what the marinating ingredients are, but otherwise its perfect.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Walter

    Simple and tasty for a salad.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Susan

    This is awesome. I ordered fresh Tuna from Alaska. I made a spicy tuna salad. Then tried this recipe, and was not disappointed. More Tuna on the way..

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Susan

    This recipe is amazing! I’ve been making it for three years now whenever I can find high-quality, fresh tuna. It’s so easy, always impresses guests, and my husband adores it. I mostly make it as described, and like others, use the marinade as a dipping sauce. Using good tuna is essential, and I always serve it very rare as shown (except for one or two people who ask it be done to medium). A staple now, and the only way I make tuna at home.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Erich

    This was excellent. I’ve been using another recipe for several years and wanted a change. I added 1 tsp of sambal oelek to the marinade. Cooked the tuna for about 1 minute on one side and about 30 seconds on the other. Heated the leftover marinade and used as dipping sauce. Served with sushi rice and an Asian salad. Will use this recipe for a while in the future.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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