Pan-Seared Tuna

Author: Justin
Serves 2 amply

1 lb thick (~1.25 inch) tuna steak 1 - 2 Tbl Olive Oil
2 tsp fresh grated ginger 2 tsp crushed chili pepper
1 tsp dried thyme 2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp dried marjoram 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbl Sesame Seeds

Cut the tuna into two "logs", ideally with a 1.25" cross-section and about 4" long.  Score with a knife on all sides.  Mix all other ingredients.

Heat wok until it is very hot.  (Original said "until the wok turns white"; I heated until the seasoning just began to smoke.)  Drench tuna in mixture and put into wok.  Sear very fast, 20 - 40 seconds on each side (depending on size and thickness), then immediately remove.

Serve sliced moderately thin, with the following dipping sauce:

4 Tbl soy sauce 1 Tbl mirin
1 Tbl lime juice 1 Tbl prepared wasabi

Notes and Variations

The sesame is an addition to the original, which I've seen in a number of variants of this dish.  The original calls for "wasabi to taste"; this quantity is moderately strong.

While the recipe calls for a wok, and that makes sense from a heat-transfer point of view, it's probably best made with a relatively flat-bottomed one.  Cooking the tuna in a round-bottomed wok, while doable, is a little tricky.  The second time, we used a good French saute pan, which worked better.

The sauce mixture actually makes enough for several pounds of tuna.  However, you probably need to make this much in order to have enough to "drench" with.  (And the quantity of everything else makes more sense if there is less oil.)

Properly made, this is very much like fancy sashimi.  The outside should be seared, but only a fraction of an inch thick.  The interior should be cool and sushi-like.  When sliced, it is like sashimi, but with cooked edges.  Mega-yummy, but requires really good tuna.

The original called for 1/2 cup of oil, but that wound up overwhelming the other ingredients.  It really only needs enough to cook.  The original also called for soy oil (that is, vegetable oil), but I tend to use olive oil in most cooking.


Prepared on a whim, when I had found a really nice tuna steak.  Called Dad and asked about how to prepare something like this; he passed on essentially this recipe, which comes from an excellent Hawaiian restaurant (whose name eludes me at the moment).