Sesame crusted seared Ahi tuna is one of those effortless dishes that never fails to impress. It’s elegant and makes quite the presentation, but is simple enough for a weeknight meal in under 10 minutes!
What is Ahi tuna?
Ahi tuna is generally associated with yellow-fin species. But in Hawaii, Ahi tuna refers to yellow-fin tuna and bigeye tuna species.
Yellow-fin is more commonly available in grocery stores than bluefin or bigeye tuna and it has a slimmer profile and a different “figure” than bigeye tuna.
Is it safe to eat raw tuna?
Yes, sushi-grade Ahi tuna steaks are safe to consume rare, as long as they are from safe and reliable source. I use frozen, individually vacuum sealed tuna steaks for this recipe.
There’re 2 main risks when it comes to raw/rare fish: 1. parasites; and 2. bacteria.
Parasites are killed by either cooking or freezing.
That’s why all sushi-grade fish is flash frozen on the boat right after they’ve been caught. According to FDA guidelines, sushi-grade fish must be frozen at as low as -40°F for at least 15 minutes, or at -4°F for at least 7 days. This ensures any parasites are destroyed and the fish is safe for raw consumption.
Now, to avoid bacteria, it’s important to handle and thaw fish properly. More on this below…
How to (safely) thaw frozen fish:
- Method 1: It’s the safest method to thaw a fish. Simply transfer the fish from freezer to fridge the night below and let it slowly thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Method 2: This method works as a last minute planning. Fill a large bowl with cool tap water and place the fish in the packaging. Change the water every 10 minutes or so until fish is thawed. It usually take about 30 minutes.
How to make this recipe:
Searing tuna is actually an easy task! But, we’ll make the dipping sauce first by mixing all the ingredients together.
Dry the tuna steaks with paper towel. Salt and pepper and press sesame seeds on both sides.
Then, heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat, carefully add the tuna steaks and sear for about a minute on each side. Feel free to cook a little longer to your desired doneness.
Stainless steel, or cast iron skillet works best for searing tuna steaks.
Final touch… In the last 30 seconds of cooking, add about half of the dressing into the skillet with tuna steaks. Cook for a few seconds on each side. Then, remove the steaks onto a clean plate and serve!
Can I sear tuna steaks well done?
Sure, you can, it’s your dinner. However, keep in mind that well-done tuna tends to be dry, and you’ll miss out on silky soft and tender tuna texture!
Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1- inch fresh ginger
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
For tuna steaks:
- 4 (4-6oz) Ahi tuna steaks Note 1
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds or a mix of white and black sesame seeds
- 1-2 tablespoons avocado oil
For dipping sauce:
- Finely chop cilantro.
- Using a microplane, grate the ginger and garlic into a small bowl.
- Add cilantro, soy sauce, water, brown sugar and sesame oil into the bowl and mix well.
For tuna steaks:
- Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper, and coat the steaks with sesame seeds on both sides, pressing them down to stick to the fish.
- Heat a medium stainless steel, or cast iron skillet, over medium high heat. Add oil to the heated skillet.
- When the oil is shimmering hot, add tuna steaks and sear for 1-1.5 minutes. Flip and sear for another 1-1.5 minutes. (Feel free to cook a little longer to your desired doneness.)
- At the last 30-seconds of cooking, add about half of the dressing into the skillet with tuna steaks. Cook for a few seconds, flip and sear for another couple seconds.
- Remove the steaks onto a clean plate, slice and serve!