Seared Tuna Recipe with a Twist

This easy seared tuna recipe will have your crew dreaming of the tropics.

February 7, 2018
Tuna Recipe
Tuna with a Twist Ann E. Mott

When my husband and I are underway aboard Outrider, our Westsail 42, our fishing pole always rests in its holder on the stern rail, its long line expectantly trolling a bright feathered lure. Often, we come away empty-handed, but sometimes, we’re rewarded with wahoo, dorado, yellowtail or tuna.

On a recent passage from La Paz to Puerto Escondido, Baja, Mexico, we landed a yellowfin tuna — good news. The bad news was we had nowhere to store it. Our not-too-large freezer was already close to bursting at the seams — it couldn’t handle this generous bounty in its entirety. We stuffed what we could in the freezer and enjoyed a delicious grilled tuna dinner that evening, with a bag or two of steaks making their way into the fridge for later consumption.

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The following morning, we spotted a couple of cruising friends we hadn’t seen in a while, so we invited them for dinner to help us diminish our tuna supplies. They gladly accepted. I made my favorite seared tuna recipe, served with a delicious sauce, green salad and rice. This quick, easy meal has lots of eye appeal, and it’s delicious. It was a huge hit with our tuna-loving friends, and they pronounced it as good as anything they’d had in any restaurant. That compliment earned them a nice chunk of tuna to take back to their boat, along with the recipe so they could make it themselves.

Seared Tuna

  • 2 tablespoons fresh
  • cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Pinch sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 4- to 6-ounce tuna steaks
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced

In a bowl, combine cilantro, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir together until well mixed. Coat a skillet with remaining olive oil and heat on medium high heat until pan is very hot (about two minutes). Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper. When pan is hot, add steaks and sear until done to your liking — one to three minutes per side (see doneness timetable below). Pour half the cilantro mix into pan and flip steaks briefly to coat fish. Remove from heat and plate immediately. Arrange slices of avocado on each plate, then spoon remaining cilantro sauce over each steak. Garnish with cilantro and lime, and serve with rice and green salad. Serves two.



  • Under way or at anchor
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy

Seared Tuna: Timing Tips

When searing tuna steaks, a few extra seconds here or there can make a big difference in doneness. The best method for finishing them to your liking is to set a timer. For very rare tuna (think sashimi), sear one minute per side. For rare, try two minutes per side. For medium-rare steaks, go to two and a half minutes. Finally, if you want medium tuna steaks, sear for about three minutes per side. (Well-done tuna is not recommended — the fish dries out and loses flavor.) If you're worried about health risks, use very fresh or sashimi-grade tuna, or use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperature — many reliable cooking sources say it's safe to eat at 125 degrees Fahrenheit; the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a more cautious 145 degrees. —Lynda Morris Childress


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