Sear Tuna In A Skillet For Wonderfully Caramelized Crust

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when cooking tuna steaks. The sustainability of the fish, the flavors you're going to use, and when to season the steaks for premium flavor are all important factors to consider. However, there might be nothing more important than the pan you choose to cook your tuna on. And if you are looking for a great caramelized crust, you have to go with a flat-bottomed skillet.

As with developing a crust on beef steak, getting a good, even sear on a tuna steak has everything to do with the surface you cook it on. With a grill, which is distinguished by its grates and the open flame, the only parts of the tuna steak close to caramelized will be where the meat was in contact with the grill grates. On a skillet, however, the whole tuna steak is in contact with the pan. The heat is distributed evenly throughout the meat, giving you a great, caramelized crust. 

You also need to be sure that this is the best method for the flavors you're going for. The grill will give you more smoky and nutty flavors, while the skillet is going to give you a far more intense and seared flavor. The latter works well with a variety of sides and sauces and is beyond easy to achieve in your own kitchen.

How to cook tuna in a skillet

You'll need to choose a heavy bottomed skillet, either in stainless steel, nonstick, or cast iron. Something that will hold heat and disperse it evenly throughout the skillet. Bring the skillet to temperature over medium heat. Salt the tuna just before you place it on the pan so that it doesn't dry out. Lightly oil the tuna and place it down on the pan, making sure that you hear a good sizzle. 

Resist the urge to flip the tuna multiple times. A 34 inch steak will need six to nine minutes of cooking with one flip halfway through so the other side has time to develop a sear and lock in the flavors. You'll know the tuna is finished when it has that even, caramelized crust all around, and begins to flake at the touch of a fork. 

The inside should still be very pink and warm. Again, like its beefy counterpart, tuna steaks are best when cooked to medium rare. You can season it with lemon juice, extra salt, a healthy dash of olive oil, or whatever marinade or dressing you desire. Just be sure not to go too wild and miss out on the wonderful flavors of that caramelized crust.