In less than 30 minutes, you can make restaurant-quality Grilled Tuna Steaks at home. A few simple ingredients and a couple of high-quality tuna steaks are all you need.
Grilling ahi tuna over high heat results in a rare center and gorgeous grill marks. And a sesame soy dipping sauce that doubles as a marinade elevates this weeknight easy dish to something special.
- Best Burger Press Machine Reviews – Read
- Best Tart Pan with Removable Bottom
- Top 5 Best Cake Carrier for Delivery
WHAT IS AHI TUNA?
Ahi tuna is a type of tuna that comes in two varieties: yellowfin and bigeye.
It’s also frequently less expensive than bluefin tuna, despite having a very similar flavor profile and texture. It’s usually available frozen at Trader Joe’s or your local grocery store for a very low price.
While I enjoy salmon, it can be quite expensive. And, like salmon, tuna is nutritious and has numerous health benefits (including being high in Omega-3s and vitamin B12).
A seared tuna steak differs from the canned tuna most people are accustomed to. For starters, it comes in a whole, beautiful raw steak that holds its shape much better than other types of fish, which can flake apart.
Another thing to note is that it is usually cooked medium-rare: seared on the outside and red on the inside. In this regard, it looks very similar to a beef steak. It’s incredible.
IS IT SAFE TO EAT RAW AHI TUNA?
If you’re worried about eating raw fish, use your best judgment. You can always cook these ahi tuna steaks all the way through if you want them well-done.
Tuna steaks, on the other hand, are typically served seared on the outside and raw on the inside. If you look up any seared ahi tuna recipe, you’ll notice that it’s almost always done this way.
If you order it at a restaurant, it will almost certainly be cooked medium-rare as well.
DO I NEED TO MARINADE?
No. Because tuna is very lean, a fun dipping sauce can be used instead of a marinade to add flavor at the end.
Our favorite tuna dipping sauce contains the following ingredients:
- Lime Juice (Freshly Squeezed)
- Ginger, freshly ground
HOW TO GRILL TUNA STEAKS?
Prepare and set aside the dipping sauce. Once the grill is hot, the steaks cook quickly and are best served warm.
Having the sauce ready first allows you to eat the grilled tuna steak while it is still warm.
- Set up the grill for direct grilling with lump charcoal and set the temperature to 550 – 600 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re using a gas grill, set the burners to high to achieve the same temperature.
- Meat Seasoning: Oil and season the tuna.
- Begin grilling the tuna steaks by placing them over direct heat. The sear will occur after a few minutes, and the tuna steak will easily release from the grill grates and be ready to flip. To flip, use good tongs or a fish spatula. Allow the tuna to cook for another 30 seconds if it is not easily released.
- Cook for a couple more minutes after flipping. Remove when the temperature reaches your preference. We like ours with a little pink in the middle, or 125 — 130 degrees F when measured with an instant read thermometer like a Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen.
- Remove, slice, and dip into the soy ginger dipping sauce right away. Serve the slices warm as an appetizer, or plate one for each guest with the sauce.
TEMPERATURE RANGES FOR GRILLED TUNA STEAK
- 120 – 130 degrees Fahrenheit is unusual.
- 130 – 140 degrees F for medium rare
- 140 – 150 degrees Fahrenheit is considered medium (145 is the USDA recommended temperature)
- Well, over 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and we don’t usually cook our tuna to that temperature.
HOW TO SEAR THE TUNA STEAKS?
The fact that the tuna is served medium-rare explains why it cooks so quickly.
Simply marinate the tuna in a mixture of soy sauce, oil, salt, and pepper (with some cayenne pepper for heat, if desired) for at least ten minutes, preferably overnight.
Sear each side for about two minutes for a typical ahi tuna steak (about 1.5′′ thick) (less time for rare; more time for medium).
I recommend using a nonstick skillet or a very well seasoned cast iron skillet for this (fish has a tendency to stick, and you don’t want the beautiful seared outer layer to stick to the pan!).
It’s also critical to get the pan searing hot before adding the fish.
You want the outside to cook quickly while the inside remains raw, so it should be as hot as possible before beginning to sear.
I usually heat the pan for 3-5 minutes before using it. Allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing, and you’re done!
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO MAKE GRILLED TUNA STEAKS
- Fresh Tuna Steaks: yellowfin tuna is preferred (often marketed as ahi tuna). This recipe works well with other types of tuna, such as bluefin, bonito/skipjack, bigeye, or albacore.
- Soy Sauce: Choose from regular or light soy sauce. Here’s a list of my favorite brands!
- Unseasoned Rice Vinegar: Use unseasoned rice vinegar rather than seasoned rice vinegar, which contains added sugar and salt.
- Honey: Your preferred variety.
- Green Onion: Select a smooth, firm, and bright green onion.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: Unlike plain sesame oil, which has little color or flavor, toasted sesame oil has a deep amber color as well as a nutty, toasty aroma and flavor.
- Fresh Ginger: Look for a plump, smooth, shiny fresh ginger hand.
- Fresh garlic should be plump and firm, with smooth, silvery skin.
- Use whatever olive oil you have on hand – extra virgin olive oil isn’t required.
- Salt that is Kosher
- Black pepper, freshly ground
WHAT TO SERVE WITH AHI TUNA?
On top of the sliced ahi tuna, I like to sprinkle some sliced green onions, toasted sesame seeds, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
It’s great in a rice bowl with green beans or broccoli and a drizzle of spicy mayo or another sauce.
Serve it on a bed of greens with an Asian-style dressing for a super healthy and low-carb meal. (We used this soy-ginger one, which was delicious!)
This would also be delicious in a seared tuna poke bowl. Poke bowls are typically made with raw fish, but I think this fish, seared for a little less time than usual and cut into cubes, would be fantastic in a poke bowl.
This sliced tuna steak would also be delicious on top of avocado toast!
HOW TO THAW FROZEN FISH?
My ahi tuna steaks were frozen, but you might be able to find them fresh. If you’re using frozen, make sure it’s completely defrosted before you start cooking.
I usually remove mine from the vacuum-sealed plastic and place it on a plate, covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking.
Then, before cooking, I make sure to pat them dry, as this will result in a better sear.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF TUNA IS FRESH ENOUGH TO SERVE RARE OR RAW?
Serving raw or rare tuna at home can be intimidating. How do you know if your fish is still fresh?
Despite grocery store signage claiming sushi grade’ or’sashimi grade,’ it’s an important question that isn’t regulated by the FDA (here is a great article if you want to read about this in depth).
It’s critical to purchase from a reputable fishmonger, and here are a few things to look for:
Tuna steaks that are deep red or pink in color (rather than brown) and are moist, shiny, and nearly translucent. (Ideally, your fishmonger will cut fresh steaks from a whole loin to order.)
Ll myTuna steaks should have a fresh sea-air aroma; avoid those that have a fishy odor.
GRILLED TUNA STEAK: TIME AND TEMPERATURE
The basic idea behind grilled ahi tuna u to heat up your grill to the highest setting possible!
The hotter the pan, the better the sear on the outside and the raw inside. Because grills differ, the exact temperature will differ depending on your grill.
- Preheat a grill to the highest possible temperature: 500 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on how hot your grill gets.
- Pat the tuna dry and liberally season with salt and pepper.
- Grill for 30 to 60 seconds per side, or until the outside is cooked but the inside is still raw. A food thermometer is useful: the internal temperature should be 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Place the tuna steaks on the grill’s hottest part. Allow that side to brown and crisp for 1-2 minutes. Then, flip and sear for another 1-2 minutes on the other side.
Ideally, the tuna steak should be about 2cm/34 in thick so that it is slightly pink in the center when cooked. Adjust your cooking time accordingly if they are different widths.
Brush tuna steaks with melted butter or olive oil and season with salt or our Signature Citrus & Herb Seafood Rub. Brush some oil on your grill grates to prevent them from sticking. Cook the tuna steaks directly on the grill grates for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the outside turns opaque.
Because you’ll be cooking at such high temperatures, use a high-heat oil like grapeseed or peanut. Brush the fish lightly with oil, and then brush the grill just before placing the fish on it. Don’t cook fish on anything less than a hot grill.