The Kitchn: Here’s how to grill tuna steaks at home

<p>This quick and easy recipe sticks to seasoning simply with salt to let the flavor of the fish shine.</p>

Meleyna Nomura/TNS

This quick and easy recipe sticks to seasoning simply with salt to let the flavor of the fish shine.

Seared tuna is one of those throwback ’90s dishes that never really disappeared from menus because it’s just plain tasty. While it may seem like a complicated restaurant dish, it’s quite simple to tackle at home. A very quick sear on a very hot grill and dinner is done!

How to season tuna steaks

Rubbing tuna steaks with blackening seasoning or marinating it in a soy sauce-based marinade isn’t uncommon. But this recipe sticks to salt to let the flavor of the fish shine. Coarsely ground black pepper can be added if that assertive bite is wanted — similar to a steak au poivre — but isn’t necessary for a flavorful steak.

How do you know when grilled tuna is done?

High-quality tuna can be (and is often) eaten completely raw. Quickly grilling tuna steaks provides contrast in texture and flavor rather than just making it safe to eat. There aren’t any pockets of fat that need to render or soften to make it more palatable, like a rib-eye. Unlike salmon skin, which gets quite crispy when cooked well, ahi tuna is typically served skinless. Because of this, a 1-inch-thick tuna steak is done after just a few minutes of cooking. Well-done tuna steaks tend to be very dry. All you really need to do is quickly sear each side before pulling it from the heat.

Use visual cues. The difference between the pale cooked tuna and the dark, raw interior is significant. When looking at the side of your steak, you should be able to see the rare middle section.

Don’t walk away. This isn’t a “set it and forget it” barbecue situation. Your fish will be cooked within a few minutes, so just stay and hang out at the grill.

Err on the side of underdone. You can’t really serve tuna too rare, but it overcooks very quickly.

What do I serve with grilled tuna?

Grilled tuna cooks so quickly, it helps to have all of the other components of your meal ready to eat before you start cooking. It’s lovely served on a salad, with noodles or rice, or with some simply grilled vegetables.

Grilled Tuna Steak

Serves 4

  • 1 pound (1-inch thick) tuna steaks (about 2)
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as canola, plus more for the grill grates
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

1. Heat an outdoor grill for direct, high heat. Scrub the grates if needed. Oil the grill grates with a folded paper towel dipped in neutral oil.

2. Dry 1 pound tuna steaks with paper towels. Rub the tuna with 2 teaspoons neutral oil and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper if using.

3. Place the tuna steaks on the grill. Cover and cook until the tuna releases easily from the grill, about 1 1/2 minutes. Using a fish spatula, carefully flip the tuna. Cover and cook until medium-rare, about 1 1/2 minutes more.

Recipe notes: Leftover grilled tuna can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one day. Leftover tuna does not reheat well, but can be eaten cold.

(Meleyna Nomura is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com.)