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This Japanese-style pan-seared Tuna Tataki is a show-stopping dish with a crunchy sesame crust on the outside, and a delicate sushi-grade ahi tuna on the inside. Serve it with a flavorful tataki sauce for a mouth-watering appetizer or light dinner! The best part? It’ll be on your dinner table in less than 15 minutes!
The tuna is very lightly seared with the middle part still raw, creating a wonderful creamy and buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture.
This seared ahi tuna is my new favorite!
What Is Ahi Tuna?
Also known as yellowfin tuna, ahi tuna is a delicious fish with a rich flavor and ruby-red flesh. It’s a popular ingredient for Japanese sushi and sashimi recipes.
Ahi tuna tastes best when it’s rare or medium rare. It’s also a good source of vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and lean protein.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Tuna Tataki has a special and delightful combination of flavors and textures you might never had before. Here are the reasons why I love it:
- Pleasant contrast of textures: The sesame crust is crunchy, nutty, and crispy, while the tuna is velvety, tender, and still rare in the center.
- Perfect flavor combinations: This dish has a wonderful combination of savory, sweet, and tangy notes, which complement the mild flavor of the tuna.
- Quick to cook: This recipe is surprisingly easy to prepare and takes less than 15 minutes to make, great for a quick weeknight meal.
- Healthy and Nutritious: Ahi tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids with many essential nutrients.
What Is Tataki?
Tataki means “pounded into pieces” in Japanese. It’s a cooking technique that quickly sears the surface of meat or fish to preserve the freshness and enhance the flavor.
For Tuna Tataki, the goal is to sear the outside of the fish briefly while leaving the interior rare.
Below is what you’ll needed for Tuna Tataki:
- Sushi-grade Ahi tuna: This is the star ingredient. Make sure to buy sushi or sashimi-grade fresh tuna.
- Sesame seeds: I recommend using a mix of white and black sesame seeds for a beautiful crust.
- Seasoning: Made of Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Tataki sauce: Use a combination of soy sauce, orange juice, lemon juice, and fresh ginger.
- Vegetable oil: For searing.
How To Make Sesame-Crusted Tuna Tataki
- Step 1: Make Sesame Crust Mixture. Mix all crust ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Step 2: Make Tataki Sauce. Mix together soy sauce, orange juice, lemon juice, and grated ginger. Remember to reserve half of the sauce for dipping.
- Step 3: Coat The Tuna. Dip tuna in the sauce and then coat it with the sesame crust mixture. Make sure to press the seasonings onto the tuna firmly so it sticks to the fish.
- Step 4: Sear The Tuna. Add the tuna to a pre-heated hot pan with oil. Sear the tuna for about 1 minute. Flip it, and sear the other side for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Use tongs to hold the tuna steak upright and sear the long edges for about 1 minute.
- Step 5: Slice and Serve. Remove the seared tuna from the pan. Transfer it to a cutting board and slice it into thin pieces. Serve it with tataki dipping sauce.
Tips For The Best Pan-Seared Tuna Steak
- Make sure to use fresh sushi-grade ahi tuna for the best result. Note that regular tuna is not safe to eat when it’s raw.
- For a golden crust, add a bit of sugar to the spice mix. The tuna will develop a delicious caramelized crust as it sears in the pan.
- Press the sesame seeds mixture firmly onto the tuna so that they’ll stick to the fish.
- Make sure your pan is very hot before adding the tuna. Watch the fish very closely while searing to prevent overcooking.
This special Japanese sauce is made of soy sauce, orange juice, lemon juice, and fresh ginger. You can also add mirin if you have it on hand. It has a delicious balanced fusion of umami, sweet, and tangy flavors that complement the tuna.
Proper Searing Is Key To Success
You’ll only need to sear the tuna VERY briefly in a hot pan so that the crust is crunchy but the tuna is still rare in the center.
Pro tip: Watch your fish very carefully. Sear the first side for 1 minute. Flip, and sear the other side for about 1-2 minutes. This will enhance the flavors and create a pleasant contrast between the crispy crust and raw interior.
Tuna tataki is traditionally drizzled with tataki sauce. You can serve it with salad, rice, or add it to a poke bowl.
How To Store Leftover Tuna Tataki
Store the leftover tuna tataki in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’ll last for up to 2 days.
Is seared tuna tataki still raw and is it safe to eat?
As long as you’re using sushi-grade ahi tuna, it’s safe to eat even if it’s completely raw.
Do I need to marinate tuna?
No, you don’t need to marinate tuna for tataki. The brief searing is enough to enhance the flavor.
Should I serve tuna tataki hot or cold?
Traditionally tuna tataki is served cold.
Where to buy sushi-grade tuna for tataki?
Look for a reputable fish market or seafood store that sells sushi-grade ahi tuna. Make sure to double-check it’s sushi-grade before buying.
What is the difference between tataki and sashimi?
Tataki is briefly seared, so the edges of the tuna are slightly cooked while the interior is raw. Sashimi is completely raw.
Other Raw Dishes For You To Try
Sesame Crusted Tuna Tataki Recipe
For the Sesame Crust
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds I recommend using a mix of black and white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Tuna
- 8 ounces sushi-grade ahi tuna
- 2 tablespoons canola oil you can also use other oil with a high smoke point
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- Add all of the ingredients for the sesame crust to a mixing bowl and stir together until well mixed.
- To make tataki sauce, add soy sauce, orange juice, lemon juice, and grated ginger to a shallow bowl. Mix well. Reserve half of the sauce for serving.
- Pat dry the tuna steak with paper towels. Then add it to the bowl with the sauce and coat all sides.
- Transfer the tuna to a plate and sprinkle the tuna with the sesame crust mixture generously. Evenly coat all sides and make sure to press the seasonings onto the tuna firmly so it sticks to the fish.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. You want the skillet to be VERY HOT before adding the tuna. It’s a good idea to use the exhaust fan above your stove as the hot skillet may smoke.
- Add the oil and swirl it around in the skillet. When the oil is hot, carefully add the tuna, pressing each slice gently onto the surface of the skillet.
- Sear the tuna for about 1 minute. Check the underside of the tuna with a spatula. If the tuna is golden, flip it to the other side and sear for another minute or two until golden.
- Use tongs to hold the tuna steak upright and sear the long edges for about 1 minute or until golden.
- Transfer the seared tuna to a large cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the tuna into thin slices. Serve it with tataki sauce and enjoy!