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Pan Seared Tuna

Pan Seared Tuna and Golden Beetroot

In this simple dish, fish, sesame seeds, and soy sauce take to one pan with virtually nothing more. This dish and its accompaniment, boiled golden beets, represent an homage to fresh, simple ingredients. The simple marinade for the tuna is sweet, acidic and salty with the wasabi lending it a tiny kick. The sauce and fish combine to make your salivary glands dance with joy upon smelling the sharp notes of flavor even before the first bite. The best part of this dish is that it takes less than ten minutes to prepare from start to finish.

Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds

Tuna is hardy in its structure, but soft and fleshy by design.  The coat of crunchy sesame seeds bathed in a soy-based marinade create a perfect contrast in each mouthful. A splash of rice wine vinegar, a hint of sweet, thick honey and the sesame oil are all it takes to elevate this dish to the realm of spectacular.  Scallions and cilantro lend a tender distraction from the seductive acidity of the sauce, tempering the flavor and creating a more fragrant bath for the tuna without overwhelming the natural flavor. When the filet hits the sizzling pan, the sesame seeds become toasted, surrounding the tender, rare, pink flesh with a crunchy armor during its brief, yet intense affair with the iron.

The best complement I could think of for this simple dish was a simple side of boiled beets where the sweet natural earthy flavor of the beets could speak for itself.

Golden Beets

The beautiful bright color of the plump boiled golden beets make this meal as visually stunning as it is tasty. This dish requires very little interference from the chef or the seasonings, which is my favorite way to cook.

Golden Beets

Golden Beets


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 pound tuna steak
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • wasabi paste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 scallions finely chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro


In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, honey and sesame oil. Divide into two equal parts. Stir the rice vinegar into one part and set aside as a dipping sauce. Add wasabi paste for taste.

Spread the sesame seeds out on a plate. Coat the tuna steaks with the remaining soy sauce mixture, then press into the sesame seeds to coat.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet or pan over high heat until very hot. Place tuna steak in the pan, and sear for about 2 minutes on each side. Depending on the quality of tuna, you could cook for less time.  Add cilantro and scallions to the dipping sauce or sprinkle sparsely over the fish. Serve with the dipping sauce and wasabi paste. Serve a la carte, over a bed of rice, on a roll or over a bed of arugula.