Seared ahi tuna is one of those recipes that looks really impressive, but is a breeze to make. Restaurant-quality, right from your own kitchen!
Seared Ahi Tuna with Soy Ginger Sauce
This grilled or seared ahi tuna recipe is one of my special occasion go-to recipes! As much as I love going out to eat and trying new restaurants, there's something about Valentine's Day (or other special occasions) that makes me want to turn my back on every prix-fixe menu and hole up inside my house for a cozy meal with my family.
There are only so many bacon-wrapped filets or chocolate lava cakes that one amorous couple can handle!
So, I set to work coming up with a Valentine's menu that includes some of our favorite flavors. The appetizer? That's not a hard one in our house. It's a given that it will involve smoked salmon or Brie cheese.
And then the entree...what to do, what to do.
Since we like to keep things light around here, a simply prepared seafood dish with colorful veggies seemed to fit the bill.
Ahi tuna is something I typically reserve for a "restaurant only" meal. But, come on! Special occasions are for breaking rules.
And if you like your tuna rare (all you sushi lovers out there), this takes mere minutes to make.
All you need is 15 minutes of marinating time and about 3 minutes for cooking. You want to avoid marinating the fish for longer than 15 minutes, otherwise the lime juice in the marinade will "cook" the tuna, much like ceviche.
How do you cook ahi tuna?
- In this recipe, I start by marinating the tuna (sushi-grade!) in a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, ginger and sesame oil.
- The trick is to marinate the fish for only 15 minutes. If you've ever made ceviche, you know that acid (such as citrus juice or vinegar) can essentially cook the fish. You want to avoid that in this recipe.
- Don't discard the marinade! Instead, transfer it to a bowl and heat it in the microwave, then drizzle over the seared ahi at serving time.
- There are several ways to sear ahi tuna. A nonstick skillet will do the trick, but I like to use a cast-iron skillet, which creates a bit of a crust on the tuna. Alternatively, you could use a grill pan or your outdoor grill (well-oiled!) Either way, medium-high heat will produce a good sear.
- Since the goal is to serve the tuna with a good sear on the outside but still raw in the center, the tuna doesn't need to be cooked any longer than 2 to 3 minutes per side. That being said, if you'd like your tuna a little more well done, feel free to increase the cooking time.
What to serve with ahi tuna:
Grilled ahi tuna recipes are very versatile and can be paired with many types of side dishes. The marinade for this recipe is soy sauce-based, so I tend to pair this tuna with other soy sauce-inspired side dish recipes.
- A sweet potato or glass noodle dish, such as these Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae) or these Rice Noodles (just leave out the chicken if serving with the tuna) would be a good option.
- Some veggie-focused side dishes, such as Asian Cucumber & Jicama Slaw, 5-Minute Spicy Stir-Fried Cabbage or Spicy Green Bean Stir Fry would also be great accompaniments.
Ahi Tuna Sauce:
Sauce for ahi tuna is a simple mixture of fresh lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. The sauce is used both for marinating the fish, as well as drizzling over the cooked fish when serving. Microwave the sauce after the fish is removed and before serving it with the cooked fish.
Can this recipe for grilled ahi tuna be made ahead of time?
Grilled ahi tuna is best when served straight from the grill, drizzled with the heated marinade sauce. However, if you have leftovers, try serving slices of the cold, cooked tuna on a salad. It pairs well with an Asian Cucumber Jicama Slaw.
Other special occasion recipes:
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and I'll be sure to find it.
Seared Ahi Tuna Recipe
- In a small bowl, whisk together the fresh lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Pour the mixture into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the ginger slices.
- Season the ahi tuna steaks with pepper, transfer to the bag and seal the bag and marinate for 15 minutes. Take care not to marinate for any longer, otherwise the fish will start to "cook" in the marinade.
- Transfer the marinade to a medium glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute.
- Heat a nonstick skillet, cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Sear the fish until the desired degree of doneness is reached, about 2 minutes per side.
- Thinly slice the ahi. Garnish with green onions and serve with the heated marinade.
This recipe was originally posted on February 7, 2014, and was updated on April 22, 2022.
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