Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce

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Seared Ahi Tuna shines in a simple 6-ingredient ponzu sauce. Serve with white rice on the side for a light, sushi-like meal any time the craving strikes.

Ahi tuna on a small gray plate with rice and chopsticks.

Whether it’s your birthday, a dinner party, or just a stay-in date night, this seared Ahi Tuna is the epitome of simple, delicious cuisine.

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.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for ahi tuna with ponzu sauce.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Mirin: If you can’t find Mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine), substitute 2 tablespoons white wine or rice vinegar + 1 teaspoon sugar.
  • Brown sugar: Start with 1 tablespoon and add more to the ponzu sauce to taste, if desired.
  • Cayenne pepper: Add to taste or omit entirely.
  • Ahi tuna: Fresh tuna will be red or 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. 

Step-by-step instructions

  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.
Ponzu sauce in a white dish.
  1. Coat the tuna steaks in remaining ponzu sauce and marinate for at least one hour.
Ahi tuna in a clear baking dish before being cooked.
  1. 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.
Ahi tuna in a frying pan.
  1. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice into 1/4-inch slices.
Ahi tuna slices on a wooden cutting board.
  1. Garnish with scallions and serve with rice and reserved ponzu sauce for dipping.
Ahi tuna on a small gray plate with rice and chopsticks.
Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce shown with Brown Rice.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 4 (4 ounce) servings.
  • Storage: 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. 
  • Grilled: Preheat the grill on 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.
  • A different fish: 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. 
  • More Asian flavors: Start off your next Asian meal with Chinese Chicken Wings or Pot Stickers. Try a Chinese Chicken Salad with Asian Salad Dressing or a side of quick Brown Fried Rice for a hearty lunch. For a delicious main dish, try a warm bowl of Chicken Ramen or a plate of Thai Peanut Chicken and Noodles (made with mostly pantry ingredients!).
Ahi tuna on a wooden cutting board.

Recipe FAQs

What tuna is ahi?

“Ahi tuna” is one of two different species: yellowfin tuna or bigeye tuna. Yellowfin has a mild taste and firm texture, while bigeye tuna has a rich, buttery taste and soft, smooth texture.

Is ahi tuna safe to eat raw?

Ahi tuna labeled “sushi grade” or “sashimi grade” is safe to eat raw. It has undergone the proper process: being caught, cleaned, and frozen while still on the boat.

More delicious fish recipes

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Ahi tuna on a plate with brown rice.

Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce

Seared ahi tuna shines in a simple 6-ingredient ponzu sauce. Serve with white rice on the side for a light, sushi-like meal any time the craving strikes.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 24 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Marinating time 1 hr
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Calories 235

Ingredients 

For the Ponzu Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1-2 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (see note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar plus more to taste (see note 2)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see note 3)

For the Ahi Tuna:

Instructions 

To make the Ponzu Sauce:

  • 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:

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

Notes

  1. Mirin: If you can’t find Mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine), substitute 2 tablespoons white wine or rice vinegar + 1 teaspoon sugar.
  2. Brown sugar: Start with 1 tablespoon and add more to the ponzu sauce to taste, if desired.
  3. Cayenne pepper: Add to taste or omit entirely.
  4. Ahi tuna: Fresh tuna will be red or 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. 
  5. Yield: This recipe makes 4 (4 ounce) servings.
  6. Storage: 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ouncesCalories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 29gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1190mgPotassium: 342mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 2501IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Tuna needs to be seared in a very hot pan. Olive oil shouldn’t be heated to a high temp so grape seed or avocado oil would be better. Non-stick pans should also not be heated on high so a cast iron or stainless steel frying pan are better choices. The marinade is delicious!

    1. Sometimes I wonder who works here (it’s me 🥴). I’m fixing it. Sorry about that. -Meggan

  2. This was amazing. Beautiful. It was healthy with so much umami. I can’t thank you enough for such a healthy clean tasting Japanese meal. I made it with steamed white rice along with steamed asparagus topped with wasabi mayo. I love my steak and my fish as rare as possible. And this fit the bill. Yummy yummy…..5 stars

  3. This is my favorite way to eat tuna – so fresh and light on a hot day! We make it on the grill. Thanks for the recipe, the ponzu sauce is just perfect.5 stars