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.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce Recipe

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. 
Ahi tuna slices 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.

Ahi tuna on a wooden cutting board.

More delicious fish recipes

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.
5 from 22 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:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (8 ounce) ahi tuna steaks (about ¾ of an inch thick, see note 4)
  • scallions for garnish
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  • cooked rice for serving

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
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!
Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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