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.

Seared ahi tuna on a plate with rice and scallions.

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. Ingredient notes
  2. Step-by-step instructions
  3. Recipe tips and variations
  4. Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce Recipe

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: Also known as yellowfin tuna or bigeye 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.
  2. Coat the tuna steaks in remaining ponzu sauce and marinate for at least one hour.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Seared ahi tuna on a plate with rice and scallions.

Recipe tips and variations

  • 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. 
  • 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.

More delicious fish recipes

Seared ahi tuna on a plate with rice and scallions.

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 12 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
  • 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.

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: Also known as yellowfin tuna or bigeye 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. 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. 
  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. 
  7. 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ouncesCalories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 29gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1190mgPotassium: 342mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 2501IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 2mg
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Meggan Hill

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Comments

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

  1. 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

  2. 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