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Related Ingredients
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Tasting Notes

Ahi tuna loin is a lean cut of tuna that has an assertive but clean taste.

Sesame seeds, which get even nuttier in flavor and more aromatic when heated, form the basis of a simple but an important crust for the ahi. Like any ingredient that has the ability to be made into oil, sesame seeds can help add richness to a dish thanks to their complex taste. It’s a no brainer to match this deeply flavorful crust with the lean tuna loin. This gives the tuna a richer, rounder taste without overpowering the oceanic nuances of the fish.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Start with good fish. Nothing Michael Mina – or anyone else for that matter – will tell you is going to make bad fish taste great. Buy good fish and make sure it’s fresh. How do you know? Well, first it should smell like the ocean and not like the garbage. Go one step further and ensure the quality of your product by developing a relationship with your fishmonger and by taking the time to learn where the fish comes from and other key information, such as the sustainability and seasonality of your seafood choices.
  2. A fool-proof sear. Michael Mina recommends taking the fish out of the fridge for 15 minutes before you put it in the pan. This way, the inside of the tuna comes up to room temperature before the outside is cooked so you can concentrate on getting the perfect sear without worrying about serving cold fish.
  3. Singular sensation. This sesame-crusted tuna can stand alone as a simple and applause-worthy weeknight entrée. When serving as a standalone, drizzle with soy sauce to moisten and season the fish in one shot.
  4. Please heat your pan well. Don’t get impatient and simply put the pan on the stove, turn the knob, and throw your tuna on immediately. Not only will you be stuck with a mediocre sear, but your fish is going to stick to the pan, not to mention you’re going to hate the clean up. Take the time to heat your pan on medium-heat for a couple of minutes until you see the oil in the pan start to shimmer. Then add the fish. The heated oil creates a protective barrier that helps the fish slide around the pan easily and without sticking.

Toolbox

These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Offset spatula or fish spatula. Drop your trusty tongs – which can tear apart the tuna’s delicate flesh – and use an offset spatula or fish spatula instead. A fish spatula’s thin, flexible, angled head allows for more finesse when getting underneath fragile fish fillets. And it’s slotted, so any liquid around the fish will drain back into the pan.
  2. Cooling rack. Before seasoning your fish, place it on a cooling rack to drain off any liquid. Starting with a dry fillet promotes even seasoning on all sides. If you don’t have a cooling rack, drain the fish, blot excess liquid with a paper towel and season it on a clean, dry plate.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

 

Knife

Cast iron pan or medium sauté pan

Offset spatula or fish spatula

Tongs

Cutting board

Medium-sized baking pan

Medium-sized baking pan with rack

Parchment paper

Paper towel


Ingredients
  • 4 (4-ounce) tuna steaks (tuna loin)
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Salt

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes

Active time: 10 minutes

Method
  1. 15 minutes before cooking the tuna, pull it from the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature. This promotes proper doneness. By tempering the tuna portions, you ensure that the center of the loin is slightly warm – but still rare – by the time the outside is seared.
  2. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the sesame seeds out on the sheet evenly. Toast the sesame seeds in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are light golden brown and fragrant. The oil in sesame seeds burns at a low temperature, so it is important to watch the seeds closely while they are in the oven.
  3. When the seeds are a light golden brown, remove them from the oven and let cool. Set aside ½ cup of the sesame seeds for the tahini if you are making it.
  4. Set a sauté pan or cast iron pan over medium heat.
  5. Place the tuna on a rack over a baking sheet. Pat it dry with paper towels and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
  6. Add enough grapeseed oil to the pan to form a thin layer. When the oil starts to shimmer, place tuna in the pan gently. Sear the tuna on that side for 30 seconds without moving.
  7. When the tuna releases easily from the pan and the bottom is golden brown, use a fish spatula to flip tuna and sear on the second side for 30 seconds without moving.
  8. Test the tuna for doneness using a cake tester. It should be slightly warm in the center but still rare. If it is not done, continue cooking in the pan, rotating it every 10 seconds.
  9. Turn off the stove. Carefully remove tuna from the pan using the spatula and delicately place on rack over a baking sheet.
  10. Roll the seared tuna in the toasted sesame seeds.
  11. Slice the tuna into ¼ inch slices, allowing your knife to do all the work (minimize downward pressure and use the entire length of the blade). It is important to use a very sharp knife when slicing tuna. Fish should be rare, but slightly warm. If eating tuna on its own, serve with soy sauce.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Sesame-crusted ahí tuna with rice

Make quick and tasty tuna a meal by cooking some sushi rice in a rice cooker and then seasoning the rice with a 3 to 1 ratio of rice vinegar and sugar. Serve with the tuna and a side of soy and scallions on top.

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