Pan-seared tuna steak is one of the most simple fish preparations there is! While tuna is an expensive fish, cooking a tuna steak is very suitable for beginners. Please buy sushi grade tuna and quickly cook the exterior and leave the interior rare. This will prevent the steak from becoming dry.  You can offer some sauce with it, but I like to coat the steaks in toasted sesame seeds and then sear the steak at medium high, each side for 45 seconds. Salt and pepper and some olive oil are perfect coats before the steaks are coated by sesame seeds. But you can provide more Asian taste by marinating the steaks for 10 minutes in soy sauce and then drying them. Thereafter apply pepper (no salt needed), olive oil and sesame seeds. Be careful when searing at high temperatures as the sugars in the soy sauce will promote the Maillard reaction.

The art of making a pan-seared tuna steak

As always, quality and freshness of the fish is key. If you fork out money for tuna, let it be high quality. My fish monger will vacuum wrap the tuna steaks which will help to keep them fresh and well for another day in the fridge (I lowered the temperature to 2 C).

Try to create 1 inch thick steaks or sticks: this will help to keep the interior rare during pan-searing. More flavor comes from marinating the steak, from a coating that is provided or a sauce that is added. Keeping it simple often works the best: for high quality fish, sea salt and pepper are sufficient. Keep searing times short when your pan is hot, such as not to burn the exterior and not to cook the interior. But do experiment with other herb mixtures.

Special equipment

  • thick bottomed skillet or grill pan
  • brush
    pan-seared tuna steak©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

    Pan-seared tuna with sesame seeds

    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 4 minutes
    Total Time 14 minutes
    Course Dinner, Lunch
    Cuisine South and South East Asian


    All ingredients

    • 1 1/3 lb (600 g) fresh tuna
    • 1 oz sesame seeds
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce


    Preparing the tuna steaks

    • Cut the steaks in around 4 oz (100-125 g) pieces
    • Marinate them for 10 minutes in soy sauce, while turning now and then to expose all sides to the sauce
    • Meanwhile toast the sesame seeds in a skillet, without adding oil. Make them two shades darker. When they start to pop, pay attention to temper the heat somewhat while moving the seeds around
    • Dip the steaks dry on kitchen paper
    • Apply salt and pepper and coat the steaks with olive oil using a brush

    Pan-searing the steaks

    • Let the prepared tuna steaks come to room temperature
    • Make a heavy bottomed skillet hot on the stove. You may also use a grill pan if you so prefer
    • Add the steaks and fry each side for 45 seconds
    • Be resolute and take the steaks out immediately after frying and serve
    • The steaks are wonderful without sauce, but If you so prefer, you can serve with a soy sauce spiked with mustard or wasabi, or serve with a bearnaise sauce


    Method: pan frying
    Food allergy & intolerance information: soy (can leave out), fish
    Keyword fish, pan-searing, sesame seed coating, tuna


  1.  If you prefer a sauce to serve as well, think of a béarnaise sauce. If you like the interior extremely rare, you can also offer a mustard or wasabi based soy-sauce.


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