With tender rare centers and loads of flavor from a simple homemade marinade, these Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Bites will be a hit at your next gathering. You’ll also learn tips for finding sushi-quality fresh fish, even at your local grocery store.
Summer is a time for outdoor gatherings and get-togethers with friends and family. If you’re looking for a fresh and easy-to-make recipe for your next gathering, then these Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Bites will be hit.
You’ll only need a handful of common ingredients and about 20 minutes of marinating time. After that, give them a quick sear and serve with toothpicks for a delicious, easy, and gluten-free seafood appetizer.
Seared ahi tuna recipe
This seared tuna recipe starts with a simple Asian-style marinade. The tuna pieces are then coated in sesame seeds and seared. Let’s break it down into easy steps.
Ahi tuna marinade ingredients
Here is a list of ingredients to make the marinade.
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- rice wine vinegar
- minced fresh ginger
To make: Stir together marinade ingredients until combined, then toss tuna pieces into the marinade to coat. Marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes before cooking.
You could also serve these with a mango dipping sauce to complement the seafood flavors.
How to cook ahi tuna
- Cut ahi tuna steaks into 1-inch square pieces on a cutting board, and set aside.
- Stir tuna pieces into the prepared marinade and let sit 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Evenly spread sesame seeds onto a plate or flat surface. Coat each piece of tuna with seeds.
For best presentation, coat 4 adjacent sides, but leave the two opposite ends uncoated (refer to photos below)
- Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add prepared tuna pieces and cook each sesame-coated side until lightly browned, about 15-20 seconds per side. Center should be pink and rare to medium-rare.
Note: If you don’t like raw fish and prefer to cook it to medium, sear it about 1-2 minutes on each side.
How to sear tuna and keep centers rare
It’s important to cook tuna quickly to sear the outsides while keeping the centers raw.
How long to cook: Over medium-high heat, pan seared ahi tuna squares take about 15-20 seconds per side or 1 minute total.
Tips for Seared Ahi Tuna Bites
- Start with fresh, sushi quality ahi tuna. Wild-caught is best.
- Buy ahi steaks that about 1-inch thick so you can cut into squares
- About 20 minutes of marinading is plenty to infuse flavor in the light, tender tuna.
- No salt and pepper is needed because of the umami flavors in soy sauce that’s used in the soy-ginger marinade
- Reserve some of the marinade (not added to fish) for dipping
- For best presentation: coat 4 adjacent sides with sesame seeds, but leave the two opposite ends uncoated to keep meat exposed.
Tips for purchasing fish for sushi
- Look for sushi-grade fish and ask the fishmonger if it’s safe to consume raw or lightly cooked.
- It’s safest to purchase wild-caught fish, instead of farmed.
- The fresher the fish, the better the flavor. Previously frozen fish is perfectly fine and often the freshest by the time it gets to the store.
- To be safe, fish should be frozen for 24 hours then defrosted in the fridge to kill off any bacteria if being served raw. This is another benefit of purchasing previously frozen fish. Get more raw fish safety tips here.
- Consume raw fish the same day you purchase for best flavor and to reduce the risk of bacteria.
- Seafood markets, specialty and health food grocery stores are the best places to purchase fish for sushi.
Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Bites recipe at-a-glance:
- Flavor profiles: Fresh and mild tuna, with savory umami sesame soy sauce glaze.
- Texture: Tender, rare sushi-grade tuna with a bit of crunch from sesame seeds.
More seafood recipes you might like:
- Italian Fish Soup Recipe
- Coconut Shrimp Curry
- Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
- Healthy Tuna Cakes
- Tuna Nori Wraps
- Grilled Salmon Kabobs with Lemon Dill Marinade
- Spicy Tuna Avocado Boats
- Grilled Shrimp Fajitas
- Sheet Pan Salmon
If you love seafood like me, you’ll want to try these seafood enchiladas with crab.
Or browse over 30 seafood recipes ideas and tons of appetizer recipes for a party.
Leave a comment below and star rating if you made this recipe or want to share your thoughts.
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Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Bites
- 1 pound fresh wild-caught ahi tuna, sushi-grade
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- Toothpicks for serving
- Cut tuna into square pieces, about 1-inch size, set aside.
- In a large bowl stir together first five ingredients through ginger until combined. Remove half of the marinade and set aside.
- Toss tuna pieces into half of the marinade to coat. Marinade about 20 minutes covered in the fridge.
- Evenly spread sesame seeds onto a plate or flat surface. Coat each piece of tuna with seeds. For best presentation, coat 4 adjacent sides, but leave the two opposite ends uncoated to keep meat exposed.
- Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan to medium-high heat. Add prepared tuna pieces and cook each sesame-coated side until lightly browned, about 15-20 seconds per side. Centers should be pink and rare.
- Remove from pan and insert one toothpick into each. Serve with remaining sauce for dipping.
- Start with fresh, sushi quality ahi tuna (see section above in the post for more details on finding fresh fish)
- Purchase tuna steaks that are about 1-inch thick so you can cut into squares
- Use liquid aminos instead of soy sauce for gluten-free, but the flavor will be different
- Reserve some of the marinade (not added to fish) for dipping
- If you don't like raw fish and prefer to cook it to medium, sear it about 1-2 minutes on each side.
Such a great party recipe indeed! Pinned it to my entertainment board – too good not to! And i love the beautiful pink colour, totally gorgeous.
Michelle Miller says
Oh waw, no finger food has ever looked so classy and tasty! These bites are just amazing!
These were such a refreshing appetizer at our last family party! Your tips on buying good fish for eating raw were really helpful, thanks!
Taylor Kiser says
These look so delicious! What an amazing party appetizer! They are sure to be a big hit!
Veena Azmanov says
Such a cute and creative and delicious idea. Lovely for a party option, I mean starter.
Megan Marlowe says
WOW, does this ever look like the best ahi tune bites ever! I love the marinade and pairing it with Prosecco sound right up my alley!
These ahi tuna bites are so adorable! Perfect party pleaser.
Lisa | Garlic & Zest says
Oh-Ma-Gawd! Just leave the plate in front of me and run along now…
[email protected] says
I have never thought of turning seared ahi into bites. This is a great entertaining idea and I have to try this.
sue | theviewfromgreatisland says
Ahi tuna is one of the most beautiful foods, and this is such an adorable way to enjoy it, thanks!
carlos at Spoonabilities says
Hi Matt, I really like this recipe. I can use it for salads too. Thank you!!