Seared Ahi Tuna with Sesame Crust

5 from 6 votes

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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!

Seared and sliced ahi tuna with sesame crust on a platter.

Why you’ll love this Ahi tuna recipe:

There’re so many reasons you’ll love this seared ahi tuna recipe:

  • Velvety soft texture when the tuna steak is cooked to medium rare doneness.
  • Nutty crispy sesame crust is so addicting!
  • Simple dipping sauce adds a burst of flavor to every bite.

What is Ahi tuna steak?

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 a grocery store than bluefin or bigeye tuna and it has a slimmer profile and a different “figure” than bigeye tuna.

How to sear ahi tuna:

  • 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 for a medium rare finish.
  • Feel free to cook a little longer to your desired doneness.


Stainless steel, or cast iron skillet works best for searing tuna steaks.

  • 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 for a perfect sear on both sides. Then, remove the steaks onto a clean cutting board and serve! 
Sliced ahi tuna steak with sesame crust on a platter with dipping sauce on a side.

Risks of raw fish:

There’re 2 main risks when it comes to raw/rare fish:

  1. Parasites
  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.

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.

Side Dish Ideas:

I love serving these tuna steaks with plain white rice and miso soup.

You can also serve with thinly sliced carrots and daikon, shredded lettuce, or thinly sliced cabbage. 

And if you love sushi, you’ll love this easy homemade sushi rolls recipe.


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.

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!

Video Tutorial:

Watch How to Make This Below!

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Seared and sliced ahi tuna with sesame crust on a platter.
5 from 6 votes

Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna

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 15 minutes!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


For sauce:

  • 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!

Tips & Notes

Note 1: The cooking time in this recipe is for 3/4-1-inch thick tuna steaks. I recommend good quality Ahi tuna steaks from trusted source as we’re serving it rare. If frozen, thaw completely in the fridge overnight.


Serving: 1tuna steak, Calories: 359kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 1153mg, Potassium: 514mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 3849IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 111mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Hawaiian

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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  1. 5 stars
    This was SO flavorful! YUM!! Bonus: it’s quick to put together. My husband raved about it, and this will be my new go to ahi recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for this amazing recipe! It is so good and so easy!! I have a local fish market that always has great ahi at a decent price ~ I make this OFTEN!!

    1. Oh how lucky are you to have a fish market nearby, Laura!! And I’m so happy you tried and loved my recipe. Thank you so much for your feedback!!!

  3. 5 stars
    Aaah…heavenly supper in under 30 minutes. It turned out delightful. My parents, who’d never had ahi tuna fell in love with this dish.

    1. Yay, how amazing that you cooked this for your parents and that they loved it!! Thank you so much for sharing your feedback, Roberto!