Tuna Tartare Stacks With Wasabi Shishitos Recipe

We know "tartare" can be an intimidating word. Most often made with fish or beef, tartare is raw meat usually formed into small patties and served with additional flavorings. While steak tartare has some complicated food safety guidelines, raw fish is a bit more straightforward: The parasites present in fresh, wild-caught fish are killed at low temperatures and can be prevented with specific freezing techniques, as outlined by the Cleveland Clinic. That's why sushi, sashimi, and poké are so common and generally considered safe (gas station sushi aside). Especially if you source it from a reputable fishmonger, raw tuna is safe to prepare at home.

You could deconstruct this recipe by developer Michelle McGlinn and eat it as a poké bowl, but for dinner parties, fancy lunches, or special occasions, it's worth dressing up your tuna in a stack. Here, lightly seasoned rice, fresh avocado, and ginger-soy tuna are topped with microgreens, fried onion, and wasabi-dressed shishito peppers. Between the elegant presentation and fresh, layered flavors, your guests will be seriously impressed. And don't worry, it's easier to make than it looks.

The ingredients you need for tuna tartare stacks with wasabi shishitos

For the base of the stack, you'll need cooked white rice and rice vinegar to season it. You'll also need a couple of avocados, which should be ripe and soft. For the tuna layer, you'll need sushi-grade tuna, soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, scallions, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Most ahi tuna, especially frozen, should theoretically be safe to eat, but we recommend visiting a reputable fishmonger who can guarantee that the fish has been properly handled and stored. 

To top the stacks, you'll need microgreens (we used arugula microgreens), fried onions, shishito peppers, wasabi powder, lemon juice, and soy sauce.

Marinate the tuna

Slice the tuna into ½-inch cubes. In a large bowl, whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, grated ginger, garlic, and scallion together until combined. Add the tuna and toss, coating every piece completely. Cover and store in the refrigerator while preparing the rice and peppers. If prepping in advance, store the marinated tuna for up to a day in an airtight container. Because there's no lemon or lime in the marinade, the tuna will retain its firm texture.

Cook and fluff the rice

We prefer to cook rice on the stovetop and generally follow a ratio of 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. Bring the rice to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover to steam according to package directions. Once the water is absorbed, fluff the rice with a wooden spoon or fork. Add a splash of rice vinegar. If you prefer your rice seasoned, add a pinch of salt and white pepper while fluffing. You can make this ahead of time, but the rice will have the best texture when used right away.

Char the shishitos

Adding a sweet-and-spicy pepper on top of the stack offers a little snack in the form of a garnish. Using a paring knife, poke small holes in the peppers and sear them in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Look for char marks on each side of the pepper before removing from the heat, then toss in the lemon, wasabi, and soy mixture. If the dressing is too sour, try adding a splash of sesame oil to balance the lemon. If you have extra shishitos, toss them in the remaining dressing and serve them as an appetizer.

Stack the tuna tartare

You could buy a professional ring mold, but biscuit cutters will also do the trick when forming your tuna stacks. Whichever mold you choose, place it on a plate and press about ¼ cup rice inside. Add the avocado on top of the rice, carefully but firmly filling the mold about ½ inch from the top. Add the marinated tuna, firmly pushing the pieces into the mold on top of the avocado. The top can be a little higher than the height of the mold, but the shape should be as flat as possible. To release the stack from the ring mold, press down on the tuna with a small spatula and pull the ring mold up and away. 

If you need to use a ramekin or small bowl instead, just grease the container and reverse the order, starting with tuna and finishing with rice, then turn the bowl over and release the stack onto the plate.

Garnish and serve the stacks

Add a generous pinch of microgreens to the tuna stack, then sprinkle with fried onion. Carefully finish the stacks with a blistered pepper, and serve. Or, if peppers, onions, and microgreens aren't your thing, you could also consider garnishing your stacks with sesame seeds, cucumber, or scallion greens. 

Because these are essentially stacked poké bowls and therefore make good mini-meals, you can serve these with a fork and dig in, or add wonton chips for a more scoopable appetizer experience. These are delicious alongside crispy appetizers like egg rolls, gyoza, or homemade crab rangoons, and they're especially good with a cold glass of sake. One thing they aren't good for is leftovers; we recommend eating these fresh for the safest food experience.

Tuna Tartare Stacks With Wasabi Shishitos Recipe
4.9 from 21 ratings
Pretend you're at a sushi restaurant and make these economically savvy towers of tuna, rice, avocado, and wasabi-spiked shishito peppers at home.
Prep Time
Cook Time
tuna tartare tower
Total time: 1 hour
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 pound sushi grade ahi tuna, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 scallion, sliced, green parts discarded
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 6 shishito peppers
  • 3 avocados, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup microgreens
  • ¼ cup fried onion pieces
  1. Cook the rice according to package directions, then add 2 tablespoons of the rice vinegar and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, marinate the tuna. Whisk together the remaining rice vinegar, 4 tablespoons of the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and scallions. Add the tuna and let marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, lemon juice, and wasabi powder until smooth.
  4. Using a paring knife, poke small holes in each shishito pepper.
  5. Over medium-high heat, blister the shishitos in a lightly oiled skillet until charred on each side. Remove and toss with the soy, lemon, and wasabi dressing.
  6. To build the stack, place a biscuit cutter or ring mold on a plate. Place about ¼ cup rice into the bottom of the mold, pressing down to make the top flat and even. Add the avocado pieces next, using about ¼ cup per stack and pressing down so the avocado is even across the top. Lastly, add about ¼ cup tuna, then press down on the tuna with a spatula and slide the mold up and off of the plate. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. (You should end up with 6 stacks.)
  7. Add a generous pinch of microgreens on top of the tuna, then sprinkle with fried onion pieces. To finish each stack, top with a blistered shishito pepper, and serve immediately.
Calories per Serving 464
Total Fat 21.5 g
Saturated Fat 3.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 29.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 44.7 g
Dietary Fiber 9.2 g
Total Sugars 3.8 g
Sodium 947.8 mg
Protein 25.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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