Why You Should Always Include A Sweet Component In Tuna Marinades

Few dishes are more satisfying than a marinated tuna steak that's perfectly grilled or seared. Both the cooking and the marinating, however, require precision and attention to detail. Tuna is notoriously easy to overcook, and the fact that there's conflicting information about the ideal internal temperature you should achieve doesn't help matters. If food safety is your primary concern, the FDA recommends that tuna and other seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. ThermoBlog, though, recommends that tuna steaks be cooked to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving the inside rare, red, and tender.

Even before your tuna steak hits that hot skillet or grill, though, it should be marinated to infuse flavor and tenderize the fish. Be careful, though, because too long in a marinade can make for tough tuna, especially if you have a lot of acid in your mixture. If you're serving your tuna raw, like in an ahi tuna poke bowl, your marinade might be simple, consisting of just soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. But if you're going to cook your tuna steak, you need another key component for your marinade.

A little something sweet makes seared tuna perfection

Salt in a marinade helps wake up the flavor of practically anything, and for tuna as well as other meats, it can also tenderize. MasterClass recommends including a sweet component in your tuna marinade too, for two reasons. First, the sweetness — whether it's from honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown sugar — will help balance the saltiness and bring the flavors of your dish into a delicious balance.

Second, the sweetness of your marinade will caramelize beautifully when you sear or grill your tuna steak. That caramelization on the outside of the tuna steak will give you a satisfying browned crust surrounding the perfect red interior. When you cook tuna to your desired temperature and you have a lovely caramelized crust thanks to your marinade, your seared or grilled tuna will melt in your mouth. Try pairing your tuna with the crunch of our Asian-inspired coleslaw, and you'll discover how delightfully the fish, enhanced by the sweet ingredient in your marinade, will balance the freshness of the slaw.