Blackened tuna is an impressive dish that can be made in just a few minutes. The end result is a mouthwatering spiced crust and perfectly cooked, rare tuna. Always easy, always impressive!
Blackened tuna is all about bold flavors and delightful textures with a dish that is both simple and satisfying. This recipe involves rubbing ahi tuna steaks with a homemade blackened seasoning and searing them in a hot cast-iron skillet, resulting in a tantalizing crust on the outside and tender, rare tuna on the inside.
In this post, I'll guide you through the process of making this delectable dish effortlessly. From selecting the best ahi tuna at the store to mastering the ideal cooking times for rare or medium doneness, you'll learn all the essential steps to achieve a perfectly seared and seasoned ahi tuna.
💙 How to Choose Ahi Tuna at the Store
Selecting the right ahi tuna is crucial to achieving a top-notch dish. Look for firm, fresh, and vibrant-colored tuna steaks. Sushi grade ahi tuna is the way to go! Avoid any fish that appears discolored, smells funky, or has excessive bruising. If you're not sure, don't hesitate to ask your fishmonger for assistance. They'll be happy to help you pick the best cuts.
Tips for making this recipe
- Preheat that skillet: To achieve a gorgeous sear, make sure your cast-iron skillet is piping hot before adding the tuna. This will give you that tantalizing crust.
- Don't be shy with the seasoning: Rub that blackening seasoning generously on both sides of the tuna. The more, the merrier!
- Quality matters: Invest in ahi tuna of the best quality you can find. It makes all the difference in taste and texture. And since the tuna isn’t cooked all the way through, fresh high-quality tuna is recommended for food safety.
- Don’t overcook it: Ahi tuna is at its best when served rare to medium-rare.
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Ingredients for blackened tuna
- TUNA: Choose fresh, firm, sushi-grade ahi tuna. See notes above for tips on choosing the best fillets.
- BLACKENED SEASONING: Use my easy homemade blackened seasoning.
- OIL: Use oil with a high smoke-point, such as avocado oil.
- LEMON: A little squeeze of lemon after cooking adds some brightness to the flavors.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
How Long to Cook Ahi Tuna for Rare or Medium Doneness
Cooking ahi tuna just right is the key to perfection. For a rare doneness, you'll want to sear each side for about 1 to 1 ½ minutes over medium-high heat. This will give you that beautiful crust while leaving the center pink and tender. If you prefer it medium-rare, cook it for an extra 30 seconds to 1 minute per side, but be careful not to overcook it.
*IMPORTANT* The cooking time depends on the thickness of the tuna steaks and the heat of the pan. The cooking times recommended here are appropriate for 1-inch thick ahi steaks. Decrease or increase the tuna for variations in thickness.
While it's generally recommended to enjoy ahi tuna rare or medium-rare for the best flavor and texture, you can cook it longer for a well-done result. However, be aware that ahi tuna can become quite dry and lose its tenderness when cooked well-done.
Meal Prep and Storage
If you want to save time on busy days, you can prep the blackening seasoning ahead of time and store it in an airtight container. That way, you'll have it ready to go whenever the craving strikes. When it comes to cooking the tuna, it's best to do that just before serving to maintain the optimal texture and flavor.
Got some leftover blackened ahi tuna? Lucky you! Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. You can enjoy it cold in salads or sandwiches, or gently reheat it in a skillet for a quick and delicious meal.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The spice level depends on the blackening seasoning you use. You can control the heat by adjusting the amount of seasoning you apply to the tuna.
Absolutely! Grilling the tuna will give it a slightly smoky flavor that works wonderfully with the blackening spice.
While a cast-iron skillet is preferred for achieving that perfect sear, you can use a non-stick skillet if that's what you have. Just be cautious not to overheat the non-stick skillet, as it can release harmful fumes at high temperatures. A stainless steel skillet is a preferable alternative.
A variety of sauces pair beautifully with blackened ahi tuna. Tartar sauce and remoulade sauce are my favorite pairings with blackened seasoning. Experiment with different sauces to find your favorite flavor combination.
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Blackened Tuna Recipe
- Pat dry the ahi tuna steaks with paper towels. The more moisture you pat off of the fish, the better it will sear.
- Coat each tuna steak with 1 tablespoon blackened seasoning, pressing the seasoning into both sides and all edges of the tuna.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Carefully hover your hand over the surface to make sure the pan is heated.
- Add the oil. Once the oil shimmering (10 seconds or so), add the tuna steaks to the pan. Sear about 1 to 1 ½ minutes per side for rare to medium-rare tuna. Adjust time for thinner or thicker tuna steaks. Take care not to overcook. The fish cooks VERY quickly in a hot skillet.
- Remove the tuna from the pan and squeeze lemon juice over top. Slice the tuna and serve.
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