Sesame Seared Ahi – Tuna Salad Done Right!

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(Sesame crusted, pan seared Ahi tuna on a bed of fresh greens, lightly tossed with honey/lime/ginger dressing – recipe in post.)

Ah, tuna fish – to what standards hath thou sunk? Canned and sitting on shelves, neglected… how few get to know you for what you really are!

*Queue Alton Brown’s signature “Good Eats!” shout*

Thanks to my scandalous affair with my local fish monger, I was able to flirt my way into a cheap deal on this impeccably fresh Ahi (yellowfin) tuna. …Either that, or it was on sale. I don’t remember.

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(Fresh tuna steak.)

Keeping with my seafood loving trend of eating fish at least once a week, mixed with my life-long infatuation with salads, I knew exactly what to do with this fine specimen.

Tuna is often served rare, because unlike red meats it doesn’t contain very many dangerous bacteria. It can, in some cases, have other things to fear such as parasites – so if you’re planning on serving your tuna lightly seared, or as sushi, be sure to get sashimi grade fish. Just ask your fish monger when you’re buying whether it’s acceptable for raw consumption. If you have any doubts or concerns, feel free to cook your tuna steak longer, but note that it will lose much of its flavor and moisture when well-done.

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(Seared or grilled, this salad is rockin’!)

Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Salad
(Makes 2 large servings)

1 lb. yellofin tuna, sashimi grade
2 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
2 TBSP honey
1 TBSP lime juice (about half a lime)
1 TBSP rice wine or brown rice vinegar
1 TBSP freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 TBSP powdered)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. wasabi powder or paste
1/8th-1/4 tsp. sriracha, red chili flakes, or cayenne (optional)

1/4 cup white/black sesame seeds
Fresh cracked black pepper

1 TBSP coconut oil (or vegetable/canola oil)
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil

For the dressing:
2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP lime juice (about one lime)
2 TBSP fresh chopped cilantro
1 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger (or 1/4 tsp. powdered)
1 shallot, finely sliced or diced
1 TBSP olive oil (optional)

Fresh mixed greens and vegetables of your choice (I used a mix of baby greens, spinach, romaine, cilantro, and sliced red onions and avocado)

In a bowl, combine the first nine ingredients to make a marinade. Place the tuna steak(s) into a large zip-top bag and pour the marinade over top. Squeeze out as much of the air as you can, seal, and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours.

Meanwhile, mix the salad dressing. Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Once it’s done marinating, coat the tuna in the sesame seeds and a little black pepper. Heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium-high and add both the olive oil and sesame oil. You want the oil shimmering, but not smoking.
(Note: if you have a grill, feel free to add the sesame oil to the tuna’s marinade and then throw it on the grill for a couple minutes instead of pan searing it.)
Add the tuna to the pan, and let cook for about 2 minutes – do not stir or move the tuna around. Flip, and let cook for another 1.5 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
If your tuna is not sashimi grade, or if you’d like it more well-done, feel free to leave it in the pan longer. I suggest reducing the heat to avoid burning.

Toss your salad mixings with the dressing, and slice the tuna thinly against the grain.
Serve the tuna still warm atop a bed of lightly dressed greens, and enjoy!

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Now that is what I call Tuna Salad!

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15 Responses to Sesame Seared Ahi – Tuna Salad Done Right!

  1. Elly McCausland February 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    This is basically my ideal meal. I love the combination of ginger, lime, honey and soy…especially with tuna. I like my tuna exactly as you’ve cooked yours, it’s a bit of a crime to cook it more.

    In fact…I just want to reach into your photos and eat them.

    • Willow February 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      Sounds like we have a lot in common! :D

    • TD October 12, 2014 at 12:53 am #

      Just made it and ate it. Tasted really good. My daughter and I love to experiment with food. This is first time I made Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna. Really good. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. Two comments: we can reduce honey a bit for salad dressing and ginger. For my 11 years old was a bit too spicy. Thank you very much for sharing. It was vas very easy to make!! :)

  2. Simply Tia February 3, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Ah man, this tuna salad looks so delicious and healthy!! And the flavor combinations? Sounds heavenly! Yum Yum.

  3. Katherine Martinelli February 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    This looks absolutely perfect!! Just gorgeous, really. I love lightly seared tuna like this and the dressing sounds delicious.

  4. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes February 5, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    I will be definitely sharing this with my Tuna loving Friends!
    ….I am going to go with you being wonderful that got you the deal on the Ahi :) with maybe a little flirting thrown in

    • Willow February 5, 2012 at 4:50 am #

      Haha, thanks. :P

  5. Tammi Olesiewicz January 29, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Finally a version comparable to the salad I always get at Quarterdecks. I do it without the marinade to equal theirs, but will definitely try using the marinade!

  6. Susan May 31, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    Is there a way to pin recipes directly? Your Pinterest link goes to your Pinterest page, but I can’t find some of the recipes there. Most of the pins I see of your recipes go to your blog homepage rather than a direct link to the recipe. It’s easy to search, but I want to remember which recipes I like. Thanks for our help! Your recipes all look great : )

    • Willow May 31, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

      Hi Susan! Yes, there should be a “pin it” button that appears in the upper-left corner of each photo if you hover your mouse over the photo. The pinned images should go directly to the link they were pinned from — so if you’re viewing the recipe post, that’s where the pin should lead back to. I’m sorry to hear that a lot of the pins you’re finding are going to the home page, rather than the recipe they belong to. I hate it when I click a pin and don’t see what I thought I was getting. That should only be the case if the pinner pinned from the home page, so it shouldn’t be a problem on the ones I’ve pinned myself (I just checked a maybe a dozen of the pins from my board, and they all worked for me). Can you tell me which ones aren’t working for you? If the pins aren’t working right I definitely want to see what I can do to fix them!

  7. Susan May 31, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    I’m on a mobile device, so that’s why I’m not seeing the pin options, but I was just able to get one to work. I just need to hop on a PC to make it easier. The ahi tuna salad recipe is the one that has several repins that link back to the homepage. I’m sure your original pins work fine, but I didn’t come across those. Thanks for the quick feedback! I’m making the tuna tomorrow night : )

    • Willow June 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

      You’re welcome, I hope you like it! :)

  8. Yolanda McFollie August 31, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    We are going to try it now!

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