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.

Seeing a recipe for seared ahi in the South Beach Diet Cookbook got me thinking again of this delicious fish, and I found some gorgeous steaks at Whole Foods. The South Beach recipe calls for the steaks to be seared with peppercorns.

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


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


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

2 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 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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Inspiration from The South Beach Diet Cookbook. The South Beach Diet Cookbook version seasons the tuna with salt, pink peppercorns and olive oil.

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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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58 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Carol

    Awesome. Made exactly as the recipe. I make extra so the leftover is a treat at breakfast. Ahi tuna from Costco.


  • Michele Emge

    Thank you for this recipe! Had tuna steaks in the freezer for a bit, not sure what to do with them. Found this recipe and saw that I had most ingredients on hand (thanks to my daughter trying different foods). I used lemon juice because I didn’t have lime, but think lime would be much better. Used yellow onion; green would be prettier. And now I know why to only cook a little. I cooked 2 minutes per side and it was a bit overdone as far as texture goes. But it still tasted really good. Looking forward to trying again. Used same marinade on Tilapia. That works as well; just cook till done.

  • Linda

    Elise, this was absolutely delicious. My husband said “you could make this once a week”. It was restaurant quality. We did ours on the grill and didn’t change a thing. It is so tasty you don’t need any sauce or fruit salsa with it. Thanks so much for another winner!


  • Melissa in SC

    Amazing! Made it tonight for the family and everyone agreed we must do this one again. The kids could not get enough of it…and while they aren’t too picky (we’ve had them eating sushi since they were 5) this was definitely one of their favorites. Thank you!


  • NebraskaEH

    Used wild ahi tuna filets from Costco. A bit pricey, but a hard requirement for this dish. Used a non stick pan, and served with spicy aioli and avocado.


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