Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette


In conjunction with my podcast with Michael Ruhlman’sratio-small-coverRatio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. And true to the book’s goal, I didn’t use a recipe to develop the Lime-Ginger Vinaigrette for the Sesame Seared Tuna. After a quick check in the refrigerator, I had one good key lime and a nub of ginger…so following Ruhlman’s ratio for 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, I whisked together this concoction.

Yes, maybe you already know a vinaigrette’s 3:1 ratio, but how about a ratio for Hollandaise, Pizza Dough, Crepe, Sausage, Brine, Custards, Caramel Sauce, Pound Cake, Biscuit Dough plus 22 more formulas? Know a ratio and it’s like knowing 1,000 recipes.

Get Michael’s book – you can buy a signed book (just tell him what you want inscribed in the book) directly from Michael Ruhlman or unsigned (slightly cheaper) from Amazon.


My steamy interview with Michael Ruhlman

Listen to my steamy podcast with Michael Ruhlman.
Watch Michael Ruhlman’s video about his book, Ratio

Leiftheit Scale Giveaway

One of Michael Ruhlman’s essential tools in the kitchen is his scale. I can’t emphasize the importance of using a kitchen scale as different ingredients measure differently. Leiftheit has a wide range of kitchen scales, but I like this one the best:Β leiftheit-scale. It’s as thin as a magazine…sleek and small. I’m giving one of these away to a random commenter! To enter, just comment over at the post where I interviewed Michael Ruhlman.


In the meantime, enjoy my recipe for Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette!

Step-by-step photos: how to make Sesame Seared Tuna

You should have 2 pieces of tuna, wasabi paste and a shallow bowl of sesame seeds. You don’t have to have a mixture of black and white seeds, just one color will do, but you can see that the tuna looks so pretty with the mixture of sesame seeds. Pat the tuna very dry with paper towels:


Smear wasabi on both sides of the tuna. I love smearing wasabi ON the tuna, instead of having an overly-wasabi’d soy sauce mixture that you will find in most restaurants. Cooking with the wasabi paste on the tuna mellows out its sting. It just tastes better. Trust me. Use as much wasabi as you want:


Now season the tuna with salt and pepper. Personally, I like using sea salt:


Now coat each side of the tuna with sesame seeds. Don’t forget the thin sides! All sides should be covered:


Cook the tuna over medium-high heat. Super-high heat will burn the sesame seeds. Burnt sesame seeds taste bitter…and well…burnt. The white sesame seeds should be browned. This photo above is right before I pulled it off the pan. It was perfect.


Now, this is important. Don’t overcook the poor fish. I like having the sides seared and the middle raw. However you like it, just don’t overcook. You can take a knife and cut into the middle of the fillet to check on its progress.

avocado-oilThe avocado oil is from my friends at – ooohlala! It’s rich, buttery and a vibrant avocado-y green. I highly recommend it for salad dressing. If you don’t have avocado oil, use olive oil instead.


Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette Recipe

The ratio for a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. For the oil, you can use olive, vegetable, canola, grapeseed, etc. I used lovely, flavorful avocado oil. The vinegar can be balsamic, rice vinegar, white vinegar, lime juice or lemon juice.Β  This makes an excellent appetizer!

Serves 4 as appetizer

3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 pieces tuna fish fillet (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (or other vinegar)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons avocado oil (or other oil)
salt and pepper
2 large handfuls salad greens (optional)

In a shallow bowl, add the black and the white sesame seeds. Pat the tuna very dry. smear a bit of wasabi paste on both sides of the fish. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the cooking oil. When the oil is shimmering, carefully lay the tuna fillets in the pan, not touching. Cook for 2 minutes then flip the tuna. Cook 2 minutes, then flip the fillets to its side to cook 1 minute. Flip one more time to cook the other side for 1 minute so that you have a good sear on all sides. Please take care not to burn the sesame seeds. If the seeds start turning brown too quickly, lower the heat. Remove the fish to a plate.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, ginger and the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the fish into thin slices and arrange on a plate. Drizzle some of the lime-ginger vinaigrette over the fish. Toss the remaining lime-ginger vinaigrette with salad greens, if desired.

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Comments 44

  1. Justopia

    OMG! I want to go out right now and pick up a nice hunka tuna! But, sad for me, it’s going to have to wait until my day off — Wednesday. For now I will just sit here and drool over these Sesame Seared Tuna shots and get to ordering my copy of the book.

    It sounds awesome. Can’t wait to recive it.

    Thanks for another beautiful blog entry!

  2. Janet

    Oh wow, this looks so amazing! Why though am I always so afraid to cook tuna myself?!? I love it… I have to make this now- it does look like a side of heaven.

  3. Tess

    Great recipe. The instructions are so clear and simple and the photos are mouth watering.

    Just one question. As someone new to the world of cooking fish, how should I select the freshest tuna steak at the fishmonger? Other than knowing that fresh fish shouldn’t taste too fishy, I don’t really know what else to look for. I’ve asked how fresh the catch was with little success. the fishmonger only tells me when the (frozen) fish was delivered, not caught. Do some fishmongers add color or use other tricks of the trade to make fish seem fresher than it is?

  4. SaraQ

    This looks very very tasty! I look forward to trying it. I came to your website via This is a wonderful site as well and I look forward to reading more!

  5. Giff

    have just started flipping through the book and it looks quite promising; your tuna looks delicious and I like the sound of lime/ginger/avocado vinaigrette

  6. somesummer

    I lovvvvvv the look of the black and white sesame seeds. I think I could try this…..

  7. Diana

    Oh man I love, love, love ahi! The next fresh chunk of ahi I get will be for ahi shoyu poke, but after I satisfy that craving I’ll have to try this recipe.

  8. Katie

    Oh my gosh…this looks so yummmmm! I had tuna last nite at a restaurant and it didn’t look this good…this is what I wanted!

  9. Murasaki Shikibu

    This sounds fantastic, Jaden. I’ll make this the next time I see some nice looking tuna in the fish section at Carrefour. Unfortunately they’re not too circumspect here with things like details so the fish often loses its freshness before it gets to any fish store or anywhere else…so I’ll have to wait until they get ‘lucky’ and the tuna arrives fresh!

  10. Barry

    Man, I go to NOLA for one week and you go and post this great recipe. Love the the recipe but love the idea of mastering the ratios more (sorry). Gotta go, off to buy the book.

  11. diva

    aaah, i dont like having my fish overcooked either. i’m a fan of sashimi so i definitely am into the raw fish bit. πŸ™‚ yours is just perfectly done. i’m taking note of this recipe for future dinners!! x

  12. Ani

    I tried this recipe last week and my fiancee loved it! The instructions with the photos were very straightforward and it was really a 30 min appetizer (together with going to the store and getting the missing ingredients). The cooking time of 2 min per side was perfect. And what is best: no smell of fried fish for days, it didn’t smell even while I was cooking it. Thank you for this great recipe, I will definetely make it again!

  13. Helen

    I have just stumbled across this recipe and it will be on my menu very soon. I am a lover of tuna and all things lime! This will be a marriage made in heaven.
    I am also recently enamored of Sesame oil and am on the verge of dabbing it behind my ears!! I have not tried Avocado oil but avocados are also very high on my list of Fave foods.SOund sliek a must try recipe.

  14. Maarten

    At Culimer we started selling tuna sesame last year, it’s a popular item. Clients are enthusiastic about the delicious taste, a great added value. Good luck with it!

  15. Gina

    I’m craving tuna and this will be the fist tuna dish I make after my baby is born! I eat something very similar with an egg roll crust and sesame seeds.

  16. David

    Your pictures are always beautiful, and using them along with the recipe is a fantastic training tool for others trying to duplicate a recipe. Love it!

  17. Sianny

    This recipe it’s delicious! I prepared and was a perfect dinner…I going to cook it again

  18. Chef Christian Anthony

    It’s a solid recipe with one exception. Your instructions for cooking the fish a little off. From the photos you can tell it’s already over cooked. The tuna shouldn’t be cooked any longer than 90 seconds on high heat. Second if you lightly saute the sesame seeds in a little olive/sesame oil before hand and once cooled. Then you can place the tuna for coating. This will help the seeds stay on while cooking and prevent over cooking of the tuna πŸ™‚

  19. CJ

    For those asking about fish freshness. Use your nose, fresh fish will smell crisp and clean, way better than most beef and pork. The “fishier” it smells, the older it is.

  20. Sandi

    Inspired by the combination here, and needing some way to serve up a left over grilled tuna steak…we drizzled lime juice and olive oil on the tuna bits and tossed them around a little before putting them on our scaled down nicoise salad. Nice combo.

  21. Claudia Cooper

    I can’t tell you how many times my boyfriend and I have made this recipe – we absolutely love it! He adds more wasabi than what the recipe calls for, which isn’t too overpowering.

  22. Nancee

    My husbands buddy just went tuna fishing on the Coast of Washington State and sent some Tuna home for us. This is the first time I have ever even handled fresh fish at home!! This recipe was easy to follow and absolutely delicious!! Thank you so much for making my first try with fish a winner! This recipe is going into the regular recipes notebook.

  23. Janice

    You definitely need to cook it exactly 2 minutes per side and not a second longer. I overlooked mine because I estimated the time.

  24. mary

    I made the tuna tonite, and as you said put wasabi on both sides, and cover with sesame seeds. Well we could hardly eat it, and my husband brought over a box of kleenex on the table our eyes and nose were running. We laughed through the whole meal. I would make it again but just not so much wasabi.

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