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Seared Tuna - Cooked Through?

Looking for opinions.

I understand that "seared" means quickly cooked with very high heat. But where does it say that seared means raw on the inside? The Jfoods have this discussion often and I am looking for help from my Chowhound buds. Mrs Jfood does not like rare fish but cooked through. When she she's sees seared fish on a menu she usually moves on. I tell her to order the fish if that is what she wants and ask for it "cooked through". On the occasions where she takes my advice the server always gives us a weird look, but always complies.

So here's the question. My opinion is that seared is a method and, although usually means rare/raw inside, it is the method, like grilled, not the doneness. So is it within reason to order seared tuna or salmon to medium doneness as one would order a steak medium rare or medium well?

Opinions?

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  1. If the fish is "seared" and finished off in the oven, Mrs. Jfood could order it however she likes it. I've always considered the searing as a way to seal and crisp up the outside of the meat or fish. The cooking part takes place in the oven. Just my take on it!

    1. As you know, seared means just what we all agree....cooked on a very hot surface to seal in all the jucies of the meat. A menu should describe the tuna as "seared rare"(as that is mostly the case)if that is the way it is being served. I think that by now most food people realize that seared tuna means served raw/pink in the center, even if the menu does not say that... A customer may order the meat/fish any way they prefer,,,including cooked all the way through

      1. If I ordered seared tuna and it came to me cooked through, I'd be pretty disappointed. That's how people who don't know how to cook fish cook it in my experience. But tuna is different than say salmon. Salmon should be finished in an oven generally where a thick tuna steak should be raw in the middle. This is just how I cook though I don't know what's "correct". So you shouldn't really have to specify the doneness on the salmon I guess but on the tuna she might, since she's basically asking to have it over cooked.

        2 Replies
        1. re: luniz

          Actually salmon is often served raw in the middle as well. I think both of these fish, esp tuna, is best this way. But that's just my opinion, she should feel free to ask for it cooked through.

          1. re: prunefeet

            Agree with prunefeet. I especially like my salmon more on the raw side.

        2. you are correct that searing is a method, but it's one with a rather specific definition. sear means to char/scorch the surface. it has no implication for anything below the surface (ie "doneness"). so, if it's listed as seared, i would assume that means charred on the outside, raw, maybe even cold, on the inside.

          that said, it's your money, order as you wish, weird looks be damned. just be aware that the meat is no longer simply seared; it will then be grilled, roasted, etc (whatever method the cook uses to finish it off) in addition to being seared.

          1. The reason that tuna loin is ususally served cooked to rare or med-rare is because there is so little fat in it that the more it is cooked, the drier it is. (BTW, searing it will not seal in any moisture, it just refers to browning it on the outside.) One of the chief reasons to eat tuna loin is for the texture of the uncooked (or only warmed through) muscle. Once you get to medium or medium well, the fish becomes dry and flaky. Oftentimes cooks (and servers) think it is sort of beside the point to order well-cooked tuna, as it loses that silky texture. Though any kitchen should honor your request. FWIW, it is difficult to cook a perfect medium or med-well tuna steak. Once the center starts getting hot, since there is no fat to buffer the heat conduction, it is easy for the fish to go all the way to well done.

            Salmon is a different story. It is much fattier, and perfectly acceptable to order cooked to medium or even meduim well. It does not dry out the way tuna does.