Grilled Sesame Ahi Tuna

It’s grilling season! And no one can beat this deliciously Grilled Sesame Ahi Tuna! It’s seared on the grill to a crispy, savory exterior while the inside stays soft and tender. It imparts a delicious umami flavor with the help of a soy-honey marinade and takes just 20 minutes. And best of all, it’s easy, healthy and cleanup is a breeze. Great for weeknight dinners, fancy enough for company and works as an appetizer too!

This grilled tuna is one of our family’s favorite recipes! It’s so easy and delicious that I think I could eat it every day of the week! However, with all the other lovely grilled seafood I like to make, such as Grilled Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce, Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Salsa and Shrimp & Vegetable Foil Packets, I’m not really going to do that, but it just shows you how absolutely yummy it is! Plus, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper making it for yourself than purchasing it at your local market or fish store.

Closeup of sesame tuna dinner on white platter.

We try to add fish to our weekly diet at least two times a week and, since tuna is one of the healthiest fish, and available year round, it’s easy to find. The fish itself is low in calories, sodium and sugar while being rich in protein,niacin, phosphorous, selenium and Vitamins A, B6 and B12. Tuna’s protein contains many essential amino acids which help in boosting the immune system, which is pretty important right now, while also providing omega 3’s to help protect the heart.

Bite of seared tuna on chopsticks.

What you need to know about grilling ahi tuna

  • Always choose the freshest, highest quality steaks, preferably about 1″ to 1-1/2″ thick.
  • Marinate the steaks to help prevent the fish from drying out as it cooks.
  • And absolutely DON”T overcook it! Ahi tuna should always be served medium-rare. The outside should be crispy, crunchy and savory while the inside is a buttery, soft and tender rich pink to red. Just a few minutes on each side is all it needs.

Aside from the 10-20 minutes of marinade time, this dinner takes about 5 minutes to whip up. The best part, since it’s cooked outside, there is almost no clean up. Woohoo!

 

What type of tuna should I use?

You always want to start with high-quality ahi tuna, sushi grade if possible. It also goes under the names yellowfin and bigeye tunas. Purchase it from a reputable fish store where you know it is fresh or buy it frozen. Frozen tuna is usually cut and frozen directly on the boat making it as good as fresh. Also, the flash freezing kills any bacteria that might be on the fish.

When choosing your fresh tuna steaks, make sure that the color is a rich pink or deep red, which depends on the depth at which the tuna is found, and has no dark patches.

Do I have to marinate my ahi tuna?

Marinating the tuna steak will help prevent the fish from drying out as it is seared. The marinade should be on the basic side, containing ingredients such as soy, honey and oil,  so as not to cook the fish while sitting.

How long should I grill my tuna?

Seared tuna needs a very hot grill, preheated to high, before searing since the cooking time is so short. Usually only 2 minutes a side will provide you the pinkish red interior that is most recommended. If testing with a meat thermometer, is should read 125 degrees for medium rare.

Is seared tuna safe to eat?

Providing you purchase a high quality tuna or frozen it should be perfectly safe to eat seared. Most bacteria are found on the outside of food so searing it kills off most of what would make you sick.

Directions

Marinating tuna then coating tuna with sesame seeds. prepping tuna steak

  1. A mixture of basic ingredients creates a marinade that will help tuna stay moist when cooked on the grill Just mix soy sauce, sake, honey, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar together, place in resealable bag with tuna and let sit for 10-20 minutes. I like to turn mine occasionally to make sure all sides are tenderized. 
  2. Place black and white sesame seeds on a plate and give them a mix. Remove the tuna steak from the marinade, discarding any remaining marinade, and dip into sesame seed mixture. Coat all sides and pat seeds into the steak to help them adhere. 

Seared tuna on hot grill.

  1. Make sure the grill has reached it’s highest temperature, anywhere between 500-700 degrees. Place tuna steaks directly on grill and quickly sear, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side depending on thickeness. When they are done the outside should have sear marks on it and look toasty while the inside is a nice rich red.

Plated seared tuna with Asian noodles and chopsticks.

Dinner is served! Remove the seared ahi tuna from the grill and slice into 1/2″ thick slices, across the grain, and serve immediately. It makes a great dinner with sides of  an Asian noodle salad (as seen here) or brown rice or, for great low carb options, a kale salad or a simple tossed salad. A little pickled ginger on the side, some wasabi and soy sauce, along with a nice glass of your favorite wine will seal the deal. Oh, by the way, it also makes a great appetizer too!

More tuna recipes

Grilled Ahi Tuna with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Seared Tuna & Mango Kabobs

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Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Closeup of sesame tuna dinner on white platter.
Grilled Sesame Ahi Tuna
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
4 mins
Marinating Time
10 mins
Total Time
19 mins
 

Grilled Sesame Ahi Tuna is a delicious, quick & easy dinner. It's coated in sesame seeds, seared to a crispy outside and tender inside & ready in 20!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: grilled ahi tuna, grilled tuna steak, sesame crusted tuna, sesame seared ahi tuna
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 430 kcal
Author: Linda Warren
Ingredients
  • 6 oz 1" to 1-1/2" thick ahi tuna steak
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds white & black mixed
Marinade:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sake
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients for marinade in small bowl.

  2. Place tuna steak in small resealable zippered bag and add marinade. Turn to coat. Let stand for 10-20 minutes, turning several times.

  3. Place black and white sesame seeds on a plate. Remove tuna steak from marinade and dip into sesame seed mixture, patting into steak until all sides are coated.
  4. Preheat grill on high. Place tuna steaks directly on grill and quickly sear, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Medium rare has an internal temperature of 125 degrees.

Recipe Notes

What type of tuna should I use?

  • You always want to start with high-quality ahi tuna, sushi grade if possible. It also goes under the names yellowfin and bigeye tunas. Purchase it from a reputable fish store where you know it is fresh or buy it frozen. Frozen tuna is usually cut and frozen directly on the boat making it as good as fresh. Also, the flash freezing kills any bacteria that might be on the fish.
  • When choosing your fresh tuna steaks, make sure that the color is a rich pink or deep red, which depends on the depth at which the tuna is found, and has no dark patches.

Do I have to marinate my ahi tuna?

  • Marinating the tuna steak will help prevent the fish from drying out as it is seared. The marinade should be on the basic side, containing ingredients such as soy, honey and oil,  so as not to cook the fish while sitting.

How long should I grill my tuna?

  • Seared tuna needs a very hot grill, preheated to high, before searing since the cooking time is so short. Usually only 2 minutes a side will provide you the pinkish red interior that is most recommended. If testing with a meat thermometer, is should read 125 degrees for medium rare.
Nutrition Facts
Grilled Sesame Ahi Tuna
Amount Per Serving
Calories 430 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Fat 30g46%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 32mg11%
Sodium 880mg37%
Potassium 422mg12%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 1857IU37%
Calcium 372mg37%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post has been updated with new photos, more tips and clearer step-by-step directions. It was originally published on October 2, 2014.

Grilled Sesame Ahi Tuna
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