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Seared Tuna Tips

If you’re fishing for a fantastic summer protein, cast your reel now! Here are some tips for making seared tuna at home.

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On a hot summer night, there’s nothing more delicious than perfectly seared tuna. Whether you’re catching a breeze on the dock or sweating things out in suburbia, seafood is synonymous with the season. And while there are tons of fresh fish and other sea creatures to choose from, tuna has an excellent reputation.

Culinary so’fish’tication

Far from the salty stuff found in a can, fresh tuna steak—when cooked properly—is light, lean, yet surprisingly hearty. Sometimes referred to as the ‘beef of the sea,’ it hardly has a ‘fishy’ taste at all. Tuna’s flavor is actually quite mild, yet somehow rich and satisfying at the same time. Seems like a contradiction, but that’s the magic of tuna!

So, if you’re cooking for yourself or someone who isn’t typically into seafood, tuna makes a spectacular choice. The problem is, tuna isn’t exactly easy to prepare. You need certain skill, knowledge and patience to pull this off—not to mention, a high-quality skillet or frying pan. Don’t worry. You know we’ve got you covered.

How should tuna be cooked?

A properly cooked tuna steak isn’t exactly ‘cooked’ through; instead, chefs sear each side for just a few minutes, keeping the buttery-textured flesh mostly rare. As long as you don’t overcook it, the fish will appear deep red or purple in the middle, while its seared exterior turns white to light brown.

Since tuna is so low in fat, it has a tendency to dry out if cooked too long. In fact, this is exactly how tuna turns into the flaky, fishy stuff you find in those pouches at the supermarket. Gourmet chefs take an entirely different approach, treating the steak with utmost attention and care.

8 Simple Steps to Perfectly Seared Tuna

  • Start by marinating the tuna steak with your dressing of choice (see below)

  • When you’re ready to cook, season both sides with salt, pepper and sesame seeds (a tuna essential) if you so choose

  • Heat a small amount of olive oil in a cast-iron, carbon steel or stainless steel pan, making sure to melt it across the entire surface
  • Carefully place the tuna in the pan, and allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes
  • Using tongs or a spatula, gently flip the tuna and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes on the other side

  • For a particularly thick tuna steak, use the tongs to sear the sides of the fish for about 20 seconds each (until they turn brown)
  • Plate, top with sauce, pair with your favorite side dish, and enjoy!

What are some good tuna marinades?

There are so many ways to infuse tuna with even juicier texture and bolder flavor. The list could go on and on, but instead, we decided to break things down by culinary inspiration. Take a trip around the world with these internationally inspired marinades:

  • Asia – Tuna is known for its connections to Japanese cuisine—especially when we’re talking sushi, sashimi and the like. So, it’s only natural to coat this fabulous fish in the flavors of the Far East. Try a blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, lime, fresh ginger and minced garlic.
  • New England – With inspiration from the Northeastern seaboard, our ‘New England’ style tuna steak calls for a simple yet refined marinade of olive oil, lemon, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Italian – Take a trip to Tuscany and discover the distinction of this sacred culinary hotspot! For this version, we’ll let the tuna’s natural texture shine with a generous coating of olive oil blended with finely chopped garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper and lemon zest.
  • Caribbean – For a taste of the tropics, embrace the citrusy goodness of fruit—orange to be exact—and combine with soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, as well as chopped parsley, oregano and black pepper. The first bite will taste like paradise!
  • Mexican – Your favorite fish gets a little spicy with this south-of-the-border style preparation. Mix up a marinade of olive oil, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, salt and pepper, and let that bad boy soak. Muy caliente!

When you’ve whisked up your desired marinade, generously coat the fish and allow to sit in the refrigerator in a tightly closed ziplock bag anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. The longer you wait, the more time the flesh has to soak up your concoction’s flavorful goodness.

3 Amazing Seared Tuna Recipes

Enough talk—more tuna! Now that summer is here, give one of these three fabulous recipes a try.

Honey Lime-Glazed Ahi Tuna from The Spruce Eats

A marinade of zesty lime, warm garlic, bright ginger and rice vinegar bring your steaks to life in this tantalizing seared tuna recipe.

Seared Tuna with Peach Salsa from Wholesomelicious

With a nod to summer’s favorite fruit, this seared tuna recipe is simply superb. Sweet, juicy diced peaches, cilantro, red onion and lime are perfectly balanced by a fiery mix of cayenne, garlic, smoked paprika and onion powder.

Korean-Style Seared Tuna from Food & Wine

We’re taking tuna to the streets! Urban dwellers will adore this Korean take on the classic fish with flavors of soy, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, sugar, scallion and garlic.

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