Peppercorn-Crusted Tuna Steak Recipe

There's something elegant and effortless about a tuna steak. As classic and easygoing as perfectly fitted jeans and a white tee, it's a dish that relies on high-quality, basic ingredients and comes together in mere minutes. Zingy and refreshing, this peppercorn-crusted tuna steak from recipe developer Rika Hoffman features a rainbow of colorful peppercorns, nutty sesame seeds, and a tangy, ponzu-ginger dipping sauce. Just barely kissed by the heat of a pan, this tuna steak has a crust that's studded with crunchy shards of sharp peppercorns and a blushing center that's delicate and tender.

The spicy bite of the peppercorns is toned down by an equal portion of sesame seeds. If you desire punchier or milder flavors, this recipe is easily modified by adjusting the ratio of peppercorns to sesame seeds.

Low effort, high reward, and ready in just 15 minutes, this peppercorn-crusted tuna steak is the ideal weeknight meal. If you aspire to be That Girl — carefree and impossibly put-together with just jeans and a tee — mastering the weeknight tuna steak might take you one step closer.

Gather the ingredients for the peppercorn-crusted tuna steak

To start, you'll need a cut of fresh tuna that's suitable for consumption as sushi or sashimi (as this tuna steak will only be lightly seared, the fish will be raw in the center). For seasonings, bring out kosher salt, peppercorns, and toasted white sesame seeds. For the dipping sauce, you'll need ginger, ponzu, and Kewpie mayo; for cooking the tuna steak, a tablespoon of canola oil.

Step 1: Season the tuna

Salt the tuna steak on all sides with ¼ tsp salt and set aside in the fridge for 5–10 minutes.

Step 2: Crush the peppercorns

Grind the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until most of the peppercorns are crushed.

Step 3: Mix the seasonings

Mix the peppercorns, sesame seeds, and 1 pinch of salt.

Step 4: Coat the tuna steak

Spread the seasoning mixture onto a plate and coat the tuna steak on all sides.

Step 5: Heat the skillet

Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon oil until the oil shimmers. For cast iron, wait until wisps of smoke appear.

Step 6: Sear the tuna

Sear the tuna steak on all sides (about 20–30 seconds on the top and bottom and a few seconds on the sides).

Step 7: Rest the tuna

Rest the tuna steak on a plate or cutting board for 5–10 minutes.

Step 8: Make the dipping sauce

While the tuna rests, make the dipping sauce: Combine the grated ginger, ponzu, and Kewpie mayo in a small bowl.

Step 9: Cut the tuna steak

Slice the tuna steak thinly.

Step 10: Serve and enjoy!

Serve the tuna and the dipping sauce alongside salad greens, if desired.

How can you select the best type of tuna for tuna steaks?

At your local market, you may find labels like "sushi-grade" and "sashimi-grade" on the packaging; these are merely marketing terms that are unregulated by the FDA. If you see this language, it just means that the seller has deemed the fish safe to consume raw.

Thankfully for tuna lovers, the fish is among the safest types to eat raw (wild fish besides tuna must be deeply frozen to destroy parasites). When selecting tuna for your tuna steak, you'll want to go to a Japanese grocery store or reputable local fish market where you can ask the fishmonger about the tuna's freshness and quality and find out if it is suitable to consume raw.

Besides choosing a reputable seller, you'll want to decide which type of tuna to use. Bigeye and yellowfin (which are both known as "ahi tuna"), bluefin, and albacore are common types. See Tasting Table's breakdown of the differences between bluefin and bigeye tuna for more details.

What pairs well with tuna steak?

This peppercorn-crusted tuna steak is a versatile base that pairs wonderfully with acidic and citrus-based dipping sauces like the simple ginger-mayo-ponzu sauce we introduce in this recipe. Another sauce option is pure, unadulterated ponzu for a tangy, bright, and refreshing flavor. Kicking up the spice, wasabi-mayo or soy sauce and wasabi are sure to clear the sinuses. For a more tropical punch, a mango or pineapple salsa will transport you to warmer climes and offset the heat from the peppercorns. Indecisive? Create a smorgasbord of sauces, and check out some of our favorite sauces to pair with tuna for even more ideas.

To complete the meal, consider taking inspiration from Japanese home cooking and serve the tuna steak with steamed Japanese short-grain rice, miso soup, and a vegetable side dish. A simple salad of spring greens and peppery radishes or goma-ae (blanched green beans or spinach coated in sesame dressing) keeps the meal light and fresh.

Peppercorn-Crusted Tuna Steak Recipe
4.9 from 15 ratings
Our peppercorn-crusted tuna steak has a lightly seared edge and a perfectly raw center. We also offer a recipe for a ponzu-ginger dipping sauce for the fish.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
2
minutes
Servings
1
steak
Tuna steak on a plate with greens and dipping sauce on the side
Total time: 12 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 ½ ounce fresh, high-quality tuna
  • ¼ teaspoon + 1 pinch kosher salt, divided
  • ½ tablespoon peppercorns (mix of green, pink, and black)
  • ½ tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ponzu
  • 1 tablespoon Kewpie mayo
Optional Ingredients
  • Salad greens
Directions
  1. Salt the tuna steak on all sides with ¼ tsp salt and set aside in the fridge for 5–10 minutes.
  2. Grind the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until most of the peppercorns are crushed.
  3. Mix the peppercorns, sesame seeds, and 1 pinch of salt.
  4. Spread the seasoning mixture onto a plate and coat the tuna steak on all sides.
  5. Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon oil until the oil shimmers. For cast iron, wait until wisps of smoke appear.
  6. Sear the tuna steak on all sides (about 20–30 seconds on the top and bottom and a few seconds on the sides).
  7. Rest the tuna steak on a plate or cutting board for 5–10 minutes.
  8. While the tuna rests, make the dipping sauce: Combine the grated ginger, ponzu, and Kewpie mayo in a small bowl.
  9. Slice the tuna steak thinly.
  10. Serve the tuna and the dipping sauce alongside salad greens, if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 406
Total Fat 28.1 g
Saturated Fat 3.3 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 55.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 4.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Total Sugars 0.1 g
Sodium 653.2 mg
Protein 33.6 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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