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This seared tuna with herbs recipe is so easy that I almost shied from posting it on this blog. It’s so simple, I figured anyone would already know how to cook a fresh tuna steak. There’s literally nothing to it.
But at some point, it occurred to me that when I mentioned we were eating seared tuna at my house, most people would look at me with googly eyes. It’s one of these recipes considered a fancy meal people only order in restaurants. So, I decided to dispel the myth and show you that you can do this at home too! No culinary school required. All you need is a skillet.
There is, of course, a little secret I shall reveal only to you… Most people (including me in my younger years) overcook fresh tuna. The secret to a delicious buttery seared tuna steak is to serve it very rare, pink in the center with just a fine layer of brown on the outside. And to achieve that, it literally requires cooking it no longer than one minute on each side. One minute. That’s it. Done. Remove it from the pan NOW! Do not expect the center to be warm, of course. It’s not meant to be. It should remain RAW.
What is the best tuna to use?
The best tuna to use is the one you can easily find at your local grocery store or fish monger. Ideally, especially since the fish remains partly raw, try to get the best quality sushi-grade ahi tuna you can buy. Ahi tuna is also known as yellowfin. Most stores carry frozen ahi tuna steaks, and that’s what I keep in my freezer at all times.
If using frozen tuna, take it out of the freezer the day before and let it thaw in your refrigerator. It should be ready to cook within 12 hours or so. For quicker thawing, place it inside a sealed plastic bag (most steaks come individually packaged in plastic so there’s no need for an extra bag), in a bowl of cold water. This method only takes about 30 minutes.
Is it healthy to eat raw tuna?
Tuna is an excellent source of lean protein. It is rich in vitamin B12, but also contains high levels of Omega 3’s which help prevent inflammation, regulate blood pressure and protect against cardiovascular disease. It is low in calories, one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D, rich in iron, vitamin B6, potassium, selenium and iodine.
Raw tuna, however, may contain parasites that can cause foodborne illness in humans, but these can usually be eliminated by cooking or freezing.
Tuna can also be high in mercury. Consuming too much mercury can damage your brain and heart and lead to serious health issues. For this reason, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, should not eat raw tuna. Others should should generally be cautious about tuna consumption and eat it in moderation (not more than once a week).
Which oil should I use?
If you are concerned about using your extra virgin olive oil for searing at high temperature, use avocado oil since it has a higher smoke point. EVOO’s smoke points range from 347°F (175°C) to 464°F (240 °C), depending on the grade, quality and freshness, and length of cooking time.
However, experts agree that EVOO is excellent for baking, grilling, sautéing and frying. Not only is it an excellent cooking oil, but it is also one of the healthiest. Phenols and antioxidants from EVOO are transferred to vegetables cooked in it, thereby increasing the nutrition content of the vegetables.
This recipe has such a short cooking time that either oil works absolutely fine. I do recommend turning on your kitchen fan, though, as the sesame seeds also release some oil that can create some light smoke. Also, do not oil your pan while preheat. Add the oil at the last minute when you are ready to sear. That should avoid any smoke issues.
What to eat with seared tuna
This easy seared tuna with herbs is a great topping for any salad. It is delicious served with our Italian salsa verde or Roasted red pepper sauce. It makes a great center piece for a Niçoise salad in lieu of canned tuna. You can also be served with warm vegetables and grains. You can repurpose leftovers into a tuna salad. Endless possibilities. Just not more than once a week, remember?
So don’t be intimidated and give this recipe a try!
Other recipes you may enjoy:
Easy seared tuna with herbs
- Preheat a cast iron skillet (or non-stick skillet) on medium high heat.
- Pat dry the tuna steaks with a paper towel.
- Rub one side of the steaks lightly with a few drops of olive or avocado oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, half of the herbes de Provence and sesame seeds.
- Flip the steaks over and repeat the seasoning. Press gently to make sure the herbs and seeds adhere to the steak.
- Once the skillet is properly heated (it should be very hot), turn on your kitchen fan on high. Pour in the rest of the oil and immediately add the tuna.
- Cook one minute, then flip and sear the other side for one minute. Ahi tuna is best served very rare, so be careful not to overcook.