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.

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.

More from Elise

76 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. C.J. Herrmann

    My family loves my cooking so I always try to find different recipes other than my own to keep them enticed. I’ve tried many 5-star rating recipes and always had to tweak some ingredients/measurements here and there to make the dish taste right. I have to say that I’m extremely impressed with this recipe because I did not have to make any adjustments. The flavors are amazing and so easy to make.

    Thank you Elise for sharing your wonderful recipe!



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  2. John

    Ran across some nice AHI at Sprouts and wanted to try this recipe. Turned out yummalicious!:) We like a little heat so I added a teaspoon of hot chili oil to the marinade that has the crushed red pepper flakes mixed in.



    Holy. Crap.
    Made this with some local Oregon albacore tuna from a fisherman buddy. This is by far the best thing I have ever eaten. In my life.
    I saved the marinade to dip the tuna in after straining the ginger pieces out. I also seared it in canola oil. I am addicted.
    Y’all will either see me on “my 600 pound life” or I’ll go broke. Thank you Elise for the great recipe, and thank you to the ocean for having such delicious creatures


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  4. Carrie

    Amazing! My first time buying and cooking Ahi Tuna! I bought a thick fillet , did the marinade for about 1/2 hr….it was getting late. Pan seared and cooked about 2 min per side..
    Made a quick aoli with lime juice and garlic…
    Thank-you for making my first experience with Ahi Tuna a 100% great taste sensation! I will always have your recipe now as my go to!


  5. Kate

    Really delicious and easy to prepare with items accessible to everyone. I included some pickled onions as a garnish that I had leftover from another recipe. My husband loved it!


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