Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks With Balsamic Reduction

Spice rubbed seared tuna

The Spruce


Ratings (98)
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
439 Calories
16g Fat
27g Carbs
49g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When seared on the outside and left rare in the middle ahi tuna has a delicious meaty flavor and rich, buttery texture that will make even the most hardcore steak lover smile. This recipe is not only easy to make but takes just a few minutes to cook. It's a wonderful dish to serve guests who might be apprehensive about fish since it has very little fishy flavor if prepared correctly.

A word about preparation: Seared ahi tuna is best cooked rare to achieve this signature meaty flavor and buttery texture. When it's overcooked and becomes too dry, that's when it becomes fishy tasting.

Ahi is the Hawaiian name for yellowfin and bigeye tunas. Both of these types of tuna have flesh that ranges in color from pink— usually found in smaller fish— to a deep red found in larger fish that live deeper in the ocean.

When choosing your tuna steaks, you may have the option to buy ahi tuna that is "sashimi" or "sushi" grade. This simply means that the fish has been frozen to kill any parasites before it is consumed or prepared. There are no official standards for labeling fish sushi or sashimi grade; they're really just marketing terms. 

Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks


  • 1 1/2 pound center-cut ahi tuna fillet
  • 2 tbsp./30 mL. vegetable oil (for cooking)
  • Garnish: 4 lemon wedges
  • 6 tbsp./90 mL. aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium lemon (juiced)
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled and halved)
  • 1 1/2 tsp./7 1/2 mL. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp./5 mL. coriander (ground)
  • 1 tsp./5 mL. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp./5 mL. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp./22 1/2 mL. black pepper (coarsely ground)

Steps to Make It

Make the balsamic reduction: Place the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks
 The Spruce

Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Turn off the heat and reserve until needed. This sauce does not have to be hot for serving. The reduction will thicken slightly as it cools.

Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks
The Spruce

Slice the tuna fillet into four rectangular steaks of equal size. In a small bowl, combine the salt, coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Lay the tuna steaks out on a plate and sprinkle the spice mixture evenly on all sides.

Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks
The Spruce

Evenly coat the tuna steaks with the freshly ground black pepper, and gently press it in, so that it adheres to the surface, being careful not to smash the flesh.

Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks
 The Spruce

Place a thick-bottomed frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When you see small wisps of smoke, add the tuna to the pan and sear the steaks for about one minute per side, or until desired doneness is reached.

Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks
 The Spruce

Remove the tuna steak and place on a cutting board. For presentation, cut each steak diagonally into 4 to 5 slices and fan on a plate. Serve with a small amount of sauce drizzled alongside. Garnish with additional lemon if desired.

Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks
 The Spruce