Seared tuna is surprisingly easy to make at home. It’s delicious when served with a spicy dipping sauce and Asian cabbage salad.
This tuna recipe is ready fast, making it an ideal choice for a delicious weeknight dinner. Served with a simple homemade ponzu sauce, it’s an impressive restaurant-style dish that’s actually very easy to make.
Not everyone enjoys seared tuna. The fish should be cooked to rare or to medium-rare, so if you’re squeamish about that, this is probably not the best recipe for you. But if you enjoy the bold flavor and meaty texture of fresh tuna, I think you are going to love this recipe.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this seared tuna recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
For the sauce:
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce: Or you can use a gluten-free alternative, possibly adding extra salt.
- Fresh lemon juice: It’s best to use freshly squeezed juice and not bottled juice.
- Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar.
- Honey: Just 1 teaspoon to balance out the other flavors.
- Crushed red peppers: They add subtle heat and an extra layer of flavor to the sauce.
For the tuna:
- Tuna steaks: They should be 1-inch thick.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use. A teaspoon of kosher salt weighs less than a teaspoon of regular salt.
- Avocado oil: An oil with a neutral taste, very suitable for frying because of its high smoke point.
How to make seared tuna
This is a dish that seems fancy when served at restaurants, but it’s actually a very easy recipe to make. The only challenge is to avoid overcooking the tuna. Overcooked tuna becomes dry and tasteless.
Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. The basic steps are simple:
1. Make the sauce. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper.
3. Cook them for about 1 minute per side. The idea is to sear the outside while leaving the inside rare.
4. Cut the fish into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices and serve with the dipping sauce.
Is the tuna fully cooked?
It is barely cooked. It’s seared on the outside, leaving the inside medium-rare (but not completely raw). Some people really need their food to be cooked through and that’s fine. But for those people, this recipe is probably not a good choice.
Keep in mind that there IS an increased risk of foodborne illness when eating fish that has not been cooked through. So this is a decision that you will need to make for yourself.
How to serve seared tuna
I serve it with a simple homemade ponzu sauce – a citrusy sauce made from soy sauce and lemon juice.
Although this dish is usually served as an appetizer in restaurants, I like to make enough for serving it as a main course, alongside Asian cabbage salad. And sometimes I serve it on top of mixed greens, drizzled with the above-mentioned ponzu sauce.
What about leftovers?
I don’t recommend keeping leftovers of this dish, mostly because the inside is not fully cooked. Try to make only as much as you’ll eat immediately.
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- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (or use a gluten-free alternative and add salt as needed)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers
- 4 (6 oz) tuna steaks, 1 inch thick
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- To make the sauce, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the tuna.
- Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Arrange the tuna steaks in the hot pan. Cook until a golden crust has formed and tuna is medium-rare, about 1 minute per side.
- Transfer the tuna to a cutting board. Cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices and serve with the sauce.