Craving tacos for dinner? You'll love these Seared Marinated Ahi Tuna Tacos nestled on crunchy Asian Slaw. They’re healthy, delicious and cook up in minutes like these other taco recipes perfect for any night of the week all year long!
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Some form of tacos are made here at least weekly. Tortillas are the perfect canvas to combine proteins, veggies, cheeses and sauces. If you're looking for more delicious taco night ideas, these are a must-try: Tequila Lime Shrimp, Mexican Chorizo & Sweet Potato, Fish Al Pastor, Spicy Glazed Lamb and Slow Cooker Ancho Short Rib Tacos.
Tacos and sashimi collide deliciously in this ahi tuna recipe. A quick, simple sear is all these beautiful tuna steaks need after they've marinated. Since the fish is still raw in the center, it's important to buy fresh or frozen sashimi or sushi-grade wild caught tuna from a trusted source.
Where to Buy Ahi Tuna
I usually buy it frozen from Wegmans or Costco. Availability may vary from location to location. Be sure to thaw completely overnight in the refrigerator before searing for best results.
If your grocery store doesn't have frozen, check out the fish and seafood counter. You can also buy high-quality tuna from several reputable sources online.
Marinade for Fish
To get the taco party started, bathing the tuna in an Asian-inspired marinade gives it a deliciously subtle, citrusy tangy flavor. A blend of orange, lemon and lime juice is combined with soy sauce, sesame oil, grated ginger, fresh parsley, shallots and garlic. This is also an excellent marinade for seafood, salmon, halibut and other white fish.
I like to place the steaks in a resealable plastic bag to marinate so I can easily flip the bag over to evenly distribute the marinade without handling the tender tuna too much. Just 10-15 minutes sitting on the counter is all it needs.
TIP: You can marinate the tuna up to 30 minutes. After this, the acidity from the citrus will begin to cook the fish and change its texture. Longer marinating times are appropriate when little citrus is present.
Cooking Steps & Searing Tips
Now that your tuna is nice and seasoned from the marinade, you’re just a few minutes away from slicing into it. Keep these points in mind to ensure perfectly seared tuna steaks.
- Skillet – When it comes to getting a good hot sear, I reach for one of my well-seasoned cast iron skillets. They get smoking hot and become naturally non-stick when properly oiled after each use. But no worries, other large, heavy skillets will work too!
- Oil – We’re cooking at a relatively high temperature. Oils with high smoking points, like vegetable, avocado and safflower oil are good choices. I wouldn’t recommend using butter or extra-virgin olive oil since they’ll burn and leave an unpalatable taste.
- Heat – You want to heat the oil in your skillet over medium-high heat until it literally begins to smoke. Then take the fish out of the marinade and lightly pat with paper towels to remove excess liquid. This will keep the oil from splattering too much.
- Time & Color – I seared these 1 ½-inch thick beauties to be just browned on the edges and mostly red coast to coast. They were cooked 60 seconds on each side uncovered. Simply cook longer until your preferred doneness is reached. See the table below as a guide.
|Time* per side||Doneness|
|1 min||Rare - raw, red center|
|1 min 15 sec||Medium Rare - dark pink center|
|1 min 30 sec||Medium - light pink center|
|1 min 45 sec||Well Done - hardly any pink center|
Can I grill ahi tuna instead of pan-searing?
Absolutely! Tuna holds up well on the grill. Make sure the grates are clean and oiled so the fish doesn’t stick. Preheat on medium-high. Pat fish with paper towels to remove excess marinade and avoid flare ups. If your rig exceeds 500 degrees F, you’ll only need to grill each side 30-45 seconds to achieve a seared, rare result.
Keeping with the Asian-flavor profile of the marinade, I love serving these tacos with this Red Cabbage Slaw that has a sesame-ginger dressing. And, two of my favorite sauces to drizzle over top are fresh Cilantro Pesto and Yum Yum Sauce. Have warm tortillas at the ready. Plus here are more topping ideas to serve!
- Wasabi Cream
- Sliced jalapeños, lime wedges, sesame seeds + fresh cilantro
Wondering what goes well with fish tacos? Here are a few cocktail and side dish ideas and be sure to check out these delicious recipes that go well with fish and seafood. Enjoy!
Place any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. Don’t let it sit out on the counter too long. Because we simply seared the tuna steaks and had them rare, you’ll want to enjoy your leftovers within 2 days.
Yes, tuna can be cooked until it’s well done. The texture will be denser and on the dry side. However, a great use is to flake it and make into your favorite tuna salad recipe rather than using canned.
To make a spicier version, brush the fish with vegetable oil and generously coat with store-bought or homemade blackened seasoning mix that includes cayenne pepper. Then simply pan-sear or grill on medium-high heat to your desired doneness.
Seared Marinated Ahi Tuna Tacos
- 1 orange , zest and juice
- 1 lemon , zest and juice
- 1 lime , zest and juice
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 shallot , diced
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley , chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger , grated
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds wild ahi tuna steaks , about 1 ½-inches thick
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or avocado oil for searing
- 12 flour or corn tortillas , warmed
- Asian Red Cabbage Slaw
- Cilantro Pistachio Pesto and YumYum Sauce
- Guacamole, sesame seeds, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices
- In a small bowl whisk together zest and juice from the orange, lemon and lime. Mix in the soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, shallot, garlic, parsley, ginger and black pepper.
- Place tuna steaks in a resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over and seal. Let stand at room temperature 10-15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat excess moisture from tuna steaks with paper towels. Place in skillet and sear uncovered for 1 minute. Carefully flip tuna steaks over and sear for 1 minute more.
- Transfer to a cutting board and thinly slice the tuna.
Doneness ScaleCooking time can vary significantly depending on the tuna's thickness and temperature of the heat source on a stovetop. This is a general guideline when cooking 1 ½-inch thick tuna steaks uncovered on medium-high heat per side: Rare = 1 minute, Medium Rare = 1.25 minutes, Medium = 1.5 minutes, Well Done = 1.75 minutes.
How to GrillMake sure the grates are clean and oiled so the fish doesn’t stick. Preheat on medium-high. Pat fish with paper towels to remove excess marinade and avoid flare ups. If your rig exceeds 500 degrees F, you’ll only need to grill each side 30-45 seconds to achieve seared, rare doneness.
Storing LeftoversPlace any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. Rare tuna should be enjoyed within 2 days. If you happened to overcook the tuna, we've all been there. Give yourself a break and turn that well done tuna into the best tuna salad ever. xo, Kim
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