The key to really good tuna, is to purchase the freshest tuna you can and then, not over-cooking them. They should be red in the very center and pink at the very least, with no more than 1/4-inch edge of doneness, less if possible. The truly wonderful part of all this is, tuna steaks can be cooked and on the table in less than 10 minutes! First, you want really fresh and thick steaks, at least 1-inch thick. This is a sushi-grade tuna, which should be firm, shiny, plump, and bright red with no fishy odor. You can brush the tuna with oil and grill them; they do grill beautifully. I prefer to use a cast-iron griddle to sear them hot-and-quick. And I like both the look and texture of a good sesame seed coating. A really nice crunch!!
I brush the cut-side of each tuna steak with beaten egg white, which acts like “glue” for the sesame seeds, thus keeping them well attached. Then, I douse the steaks with a mixture of black and white (hulled) sesame seeds. They are both very pretty and as I mentioned, the crunch is wonderful. The bonus of course, is that the sesame seeds protect the tuna from over-cooking, so it’s a win-win. This is best done at least 1 hour before grilling, and can be done much earlier in the day. Cover the steaks and chill until just before cooking. You can see the thickness pretty well here. In this case, I brushed the tuna, added the sesame seeds and brushed again, and added more seeds. I did this because I was cooking the tuna immediately.
Make certain you get the cast iron skillet or griddle hot; you want some smoke, so turn on the vent! You’ll brown the first side for 3 minutes, carefully flip the steak over and sear for 2-3 minutes depending on how well-done you like it. You can see the smoke from the skillet there near the bottom of the picture. Please, please, please do not cook fresh tuna past medium. It dries out and the texture is too chewy. This is pretty much perfectly cooked, to its juicy goodness.
Tuxedo Tuna with Wasabi-Ponzu Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (you may use lower-fat mayo)
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (use GF tamari if gluten is an issue)
- 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2-3 teaspoons wasabi powder
- 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup hulled sesame seeds
- 2-3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks (about 1-inch thick)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white beaten with a bit of cold water
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
In a small bowl, whisk together the first 9 ingredients, until well combined. Set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but you can make the sauce at least 24 hours ahead.
On a large dinner plate, combine the sesame seeds, stirring until well mixed; set aside.
Using a brush, paint the large, cut-side of each steak with the egg white. Sprinkle the tuna with salt, then sprinkle each side of the tuna steaks with the sesame seeds, after first brushing with the egg white. Both sides will be coated with sesame seeds. Place the sesame-coated steaks on a waxed paper-lined plate, cover and chill for 30 minutes. This allows the sesame seeds to “set” and they adhere better when frying.
Heat oil in a large cast iron griddle over medium-high to high heat. When the oil just begins to send up a wisp of smoke, add tuna to pan; do not crowd. Cook 3 minutes on the first side. Carefully turn each steak and cook 2-3 minutes on the second side. This will give you a rare to medium-rare tuna steak. Serve immediately with a smear of sauce under each steak (or on the side) and a sprinkle of sliced green onions.
NOTE: If you prefer, use red pepper flakes to jack up the heat instead of the wasabi powder; the heat is different, but still very good.
Tuxedo Tuna with Wasabi-Ponzu Sauce recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
Slice the steak, place smear of sauce on the plate and serve the slices atop the sauce. That’s some Asian-flavored sautéed zucchini on the side. Feel free to serve with the Pan-Asian Mayonnaise instead of the sauce given, if you prefer. It will be delicious either way.