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August 4, 2022

Seared Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Salad

Whether you’re having a date night in or a last-minute dinner party, our seared ahi recipe is the very essence of easy luxury.


seared ahi tuna served on top of cucumber salad drizzled with  wasabi mayo and sprinkled with sesame seeds
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Seared Ahi Tuna is the Speedy-Elegant Dinner Your Summer Needs

This seared ahi tuna recipe is as simple and fast as can be. How fast? Well, the marinade is the most time-consuming piece of it all, and it can be done the night before (or 30 minute before you start cooking), and once that’s done this recipe takes about 10 minutes start-to-finish. Even the little cucumber-and-pea salad that we love to serve the sliced ahi steaks with comes together so fast! Or, if you’re tight for time, it could also be made ahead of time and chilled. If you’ve never seared ahi tuna before, we promise it’s a breeze! You may think of this as fancy restaurant fare, but it’s actually as easy a recipe as there is. We’ll walk you through!

raw ahi tuna, soy sauce, cucumbers, snap peas, radishes, mayo, wasabi, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger in bowls

How to Sear Ahi Tuna

How is ahi tuna supposed to be cooked? Well, with great care! Ahi tuna is really a delicacy, a treat! That vibrant red, that supple texture—it’s a luxury to be treated with love. This pan-seared ahi is our very favorite way to enjoy it. It’s also a speedy dinner that feels totally indulgent! Ideal for last-minute dinner parties or impromptu date nights at home. Here’s how to make a perfectly seared ahi steak:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet.

  2. When the oil is very hot, carefully add the tuna steaks. If you’re new to searing ahi steaks, work with one steak at a time while you get the hang of it.

  3. Watch the ahi tuna steak carefully! The million dollar question is: How long do I sear tuna? Well, that’s tricky! It depends on the thickness of your steaks—we’re calling for about 1-inch thickness, ideally—and on how cold they are when they hit the pan. You want a good sear, but still some of that beautiful raw-red in the middle. Give them at least a minute and up to 2.5 minutes before you flip them.

  4. Flip the tuna steaks and sear on the other side for roughly the same amount of time as you seared them on the first side.

  5. Pull them off the heat and let them rest before slicing with an ultra-clean, ultra sharp knife.

seasoned rice vinegar being poured over sugar, salt, sesame oil and green onions to make salad dressing for cucumber salad
sliced snap peas, cucumbers and radishes in a glass bowl to make cucumber salad
cucumber salad in a glass bowl made with cucumber, radish, snap peas, rice vinegar, sugar, salt sesame oil and green onions
mayonnaise, wasabi paste, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl to make wasabi mayo for seared ahi tuna with cucumber salad

The Best Seared Ahi Sauce is this Simple Marinade Recipe!

If you’re a purist, you can skip the marinade! But we love the rich umami deliciousness that it adds the the meaty ahi steaks. You can get your tuna steaks marinating up to 24 hours before you want to sear the tuna, so this recipe is super flexible and great for company. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this delicious ahi marinade:

  • Sugar

  • Garlic

  • Ginger

  • Toasted sesame oil

  • Low sodium soy sauce or tamari

sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and vegetable oil in a glass bowl to make marinade for ahi tuna
marinated ahi tuna being seared in a skillet for homemade seared ahi tuna with cucumber salad

Is It Safe to Eat Seared Ahi Tuna?

We’re going to say that yes, for most healthy adults, eating raw fish isn’t super dangerous. However, the official FDA recommendation is always to cook your fish all the way through. But do you eat sushi? Oysters? Most of us food lovers want to enjoy what the world of food has to offer! And seared ahi—which yes, is still quite raw in the middle—is a true edible luxury which most of us can safely enjoy. If you’re pregnant or immunocompromised the risk of food-borne illness from raw seafood is a bit higher, so you might want to skip this dish. However, most people can feel pretty comfortable enjoying seared ahi! The key is to buy the absolute highest quality fish you can possibly buy. This is a great guide to buying fish to eat raw (or mostly raw, like this seared ahi tuna) at home. Find the best fishmonger in your town and buy from them. When you get the tuna home, keep it extremely cold and handle it with care. Other than that, enjoy it!

seared ahi tuna on a cutting board being sliced against the grain into 1/2 inch slices

Tuna 101: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tuna but Were Afraid to Ask.

  • What is the difference between ahi tuna and regular tuna? ‘Ahi’ is a Hawaiian term for tuna that refers to two different (but similar) species of tuna; yellowfin and bigeye tuna.

  • Is eating ahi tuna good for you? Lean protein plus tons of nutrients—vitamin D, selenium, iodine, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids—mean that in some ways, yes, tuna is a healthy choice! Mercury is a concern with tuna, as it is with any big fish. Because tuna is such a large fish—adult tuna often weigh well over 100 pounds—they’re a particularly mercury-heavy fish. That just means that you should consume with care, and not more than once a week. However, you probably shouldn't even enjoy ahi tuna that often anyway, because....

  • Is there such a thing as sustainable ahi? Sustainability is a big issue for tuna, but it is possible to enjoy tuna sustainably! And anyone who loves to eat tuna should care about marine stewardship and sustainable practices because they’re the key to ensuring that the fish we love to eat so much will be here for us to enjoy years and years into the future. The best, easiest thing you can do to ensure that the fish you’re buying has been sustainably caught is look for tuna steaks that carry the Marine Stewardship Council label! Read more about sustainable tuna here.

seared ahi tuna served on top of cucumber salad drizzled with  wasabi mayo and sprinkled with sesame seeds

What to Serve With Seared Tuna

While this gorgeous seared ahi recipe can pair easily with a lot of different things—a big green salad and some steamed rice is always great—we love to serve seared tuna steaks with this easy, snap pea and cucumber salad. Cool, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect summertime fare. Peak-season summer veggies dressed in a sauce that echoes the ahi tuna marinade—it’s the perfect partner for those lovely tuna steaks! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Seasoned rice vinegar

  • Sugar

  • Salt

  • Toasted sesame oil

  • Scallions

  • Snap peas

  • English cucumbers

  • Radishes

seared ahi tuna served on top of cucumber salad drizzled with  wasabi mayo and sprinkled with sesame seeds

Tools You’ll Need

More Easy Tuna Recipes

seared ahi tuna served on top of cucumber salad drizzled with  wasabi mayo and sprinkled with sesame seeds

Ahi Aha!

Once you’ve seared ahi, you’ll realize how truly easy this formerly-fancy dish really is. It’s so easy to make at home, and more fun because you can sear it to exactly the doneness that you like best. When you make this recipe, we’d love to hear about it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Seared Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Salad

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  6 min
  • Calories: 466


  • 1 pound sushi grade ahi tuna (about 2 to 3 1-inch thick steaks)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Cucumber Salad

  • 1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces snap peas, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 large English cucumber, halved and sliced
  • 1 bunch radishes, diced

Wasabi Mayo

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey


  1. Pat the tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. In a large bowl combine the sugar, grated garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Add the tuna to the marinade and toss to coat well. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

  2. Make the cucumber salad. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, sea salt, sesame oil, and green onions until combined. Add the snap peas, cucumber, and radishes and toss to coat. Place the salad in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  3. Make the wasabi mayo. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, wasabi paste, lemon juice, and sugar until combined.

  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tuna and sear until browned, 1½ to 2½ minutes on each side (See note). Transfer the tuna to a cutting board. Let rest for at least 3 minutes before slicing into 1/2-inch slices.

  5. Serve the tuna slice over the cucumber salad. Drizzle with the wasabi mayo and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Note: Try to flip the steak in the same spot because the sugar in the pan will burn a little.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories466
  • Protein32 g
  • Carbohydrates31 g
  • Total Fat26 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol58 mg
  • sodium1853 mg
  • Total Sugars25 g

Seared Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Salad

Questions & Reviews

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  • Lisa

    My husband and I loved this marinade for ahi tuna. Usually I just sear it. But this caramelized in the pan and was absolutely delicious. I had planned on making the cucumber salad as well, but ended up with just some steamed green beans. Next time I will put together the salad. Thanks for a great recipe!

    Thanks Lisa, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Alisha

    The marinade is fabulous. Just right. This will now be my go-to recipe for seared tuna.

    Thank you Alisha, this is wonderful to hear! We are glad that you loved it!

  • Jenn

    PERFECTION! The marinade, the wasabi mayo, the cucumber salad. It all paired together so well.

    Thanks Jenn, so glad you loved it!