Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce

A perfect spring or summer special occasion dinner, this seared Ahi Tuna pairs perfectly with a sparkly, citrus ponzu sauce on the plate!

If you can’t think of an occasion special enough to make this, just wait for a gorgeous chunk of tuna to show up at the fish market – that’s as special as it gets! Cook it up for anyone in your life who loves sushi.

A perfect spring or summer special occasion dinner, this seared Ahi Tuna recipe pairs perfectly with a sparkly, citrus ponzu sauce on the plate. If you can't think of an occasion special enough to make this, just wait for a gorgeous chunk of tuna to show up at the fish market - that's as special as it gets! Cook it up for anyone in your life who loves sushi.

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What is Ahi Tuna?

The tuna is one of the most sought after and majestic fish in the ocean. At the peak of its season in March, the name Ahi comes from the Hawaiian ahi, also known as yellowfin tuna. It’s known for being incredibly moist and tender, and is served best seared on the outside and raw in the middle.

Can you eat Ahi Tuna raw? 

Yes you can. Since the tuna steak is lightly seared, you want to look for and use only the best high-quality sushi-grade ahi tuna steaks (usually from yellowtail, bigeye, or bluefin tunas).

(Please use caution if you are pregnant, nursing, or have other health issues where avoiding sushi is important; otherwise, you should be fine.)  

What to look for when buying fresh Ahi Tuna:

First, try to find a reputable fishmonger or market. Fresh tuna will be deep red to pink in color and will usually come in a giant loin that gets cut as it’s requested. If you can only find pre-cut pieces of tuna, look for tuna steaks that are moist and shiny with barely translucent meat. If the steaks look dull, brown, or if the muscle starts to separate into flakes, the fish isn’t fresh. Fresh tuna smells like the sea; if it smells too “fishy,” pass. 

A perfect spring or summer special occasion dinner, this seared Ahi Tuna recipe pairs perfectly with a sparkly, citrus ponzu sauce on the plate. If you can't think of an occasion special enough to make this, just wait for a gorgeous chunk of tuna to show up at the fish market - that's as special as it gets! Cook it up for anyone in your life who loves sushi.

Is Ahi Tuna high in mercury? 

Like many fish and other varieties of tuna, ahi is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals, such as magnesium. Ahi tuna is good for you when eaten in moderation, but it can contain trace amounts of toxins, such as mercury. Monitoring and limiting how much fish you eat each week is a good idea.

What’s a good substitute for Ahi Tuna?

If you’re looking for a different fish that would work well with this recipe, try Mahi Mahi, sea bass, cod, or even salmon. You may prefer to cook these fish a bit more thoroughly in this recipe, however, depending on your personal taste. 

How do I store Ahi Tuna?

Ideally, you should prepare and eat the ahi tuna on the same day you buy it. If that’s not possible, carry the fish home over ice and store it dry, wrapped in butcher paper and placed in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator over ice. The deep color that ahi is known for is temperature and water sensitive. Stored that way, the fish should keep for up to two days. 

A perfect spring or summer special occasion dinner, this seared Ahi Tuna recipe pairs perfectly with a sparkly, citrus ponzu sauce on the plate. If you can't think of an occasion special enough to make this, just wait for a gorgeous chunk of tuna to show up at the fish market - that's as special as it gets! Cook it up for anyone in your life who loves sushi.

Can Ahi Tuna be made on the grill?

If it’s a perfect night to grill, fire it up to HIGH and grill the tuna directly on the grates, searing 1-2 minutes per side, or in a grill-safe pan, prepared according to the recipe.

What is coconut aminos? 

Coconut aminos is a sauce made from coconut sap. It is dark, rich, salty and slightly sweet in flavor. Similar to a light soy sauce or tamari, but also soy-and gluten-free, it’s a paleo friendly pantry item that adds a layer of flavor to your cooking. Coconut aminos can be found at health food and specialty stores or online.

What is ponzu sauce? 

A tangy soy-based sauce, ponzu is traditionally made with citrus fruit. Fresh lemon juice and lime juice give my easy recipe for this sauce a citrus snap that balances the richness of the tuna. 

What is a substitute for mirin? 

When a recipe calls for mirin, the Japanese sweet rice wine, you need to find a combination of acidic and sweet flavors. Add between 1 and 2 tablespoons of sugar to 1/2 cup of white wine, vermouth, or dry sherry to replace 1/2 cup of mirin.

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Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce

A perfect spring or summer special occasion dinner, this seared Ahi Tuna recipe pairs perfectly with a sparkly, citrus ponzu sauce on the plate. If you can't think of an occasion special enough to make this, just wait for a gorgeous chunk of tuna to show up at the fish market - that's as special as it gets! Cook it up for anyone in your life who loves sushi.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating time 1 hour
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

For the Ponzu Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice from 2-3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1-2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar see notes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Ahi Tuna:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (6 to 8 ounce) ahi tuna steaks (about 3/4 of an inch thick)
  • Scallions for garnish
  • White rice for serving

Instructions

To make the Ponzu Sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, lime juice, mirin, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Divide sauce in half and reserve half the sauce for dipping.

To make the Ahi Tuna:

  1. Coat the tuna steaks in remaining ponzu sauce and marinate for at least one hour.

  2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Remove tuna steaks from marinade, wipe off excess, and add to skillet without moving. Sear 1 to 2 minutes per side for rare.

  3. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice into 1/4-inch slices and garnish with scallions. Serve with white rice and reserved ponzu sauce for dipping.

Recipe Notes

For the Ponzu sauce:

Start by adding 1 tablespoon brown sugar, taste the sauce, and see if you'd like it sweeter. If you do, add another tablespoon brown sugar.


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A perfect spring or summer special occasion dinner, this seared Ahi Tuna recipe pairs perfectly with a sparkly, citrus ponzu sauce on the plate. If you can't think of an occasion special enough to make this, just wait for a gorgeous chunk of tuna to show up at the fish market - that's as special as it gets! Cook it up for anyone in your life who loves sushi.

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