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how do you marinade tuna steaks?

i had a wonderful seared tuna sandwich the other day at breadbar in LA. we couldnt get over what seemed to be some sort if soy marinade, it really gave it that "sushi touch" to the tuna. the ditzy waiter wasnt very helpful in asking the kitchen what their secret was so i put it to you - whats your best marinade for ahi tuna?

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  1. Just a simple teriyaki: soy sauce, mirin (or vinegar and brown sugar), and finely grated ginger.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Having met Mr. Yoshida on a project, and since the wife grew up on the stuff we are partial to Yoshida's (basically teriyaki)... I do grate some ginger in there and thin it out a bit with soy sauce and rice vinegar.

      The other way I commonly do tuna loin is in Al Pastor spice rub... brushed up with an Al Pastor-Pineapple glaze.

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Seconds here. Perfect. Simple 1-2 hrs a grill. Lime is good too, lots of options simple and grill medium rare for me. Perfect.

      2. soy sauce, ginger (fresh or powered) garlic honey and a bit of some citrus , if your so inclined a dash of hot sauce

        1. soy, rice wine vinegar, ginger, honey, chili paste

          1. I like soya, ginger, wasabi powder, and a little honey.

            1. soy sauce, brown sugar, wasabi powder , rice vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil with some Roasted Sesame oil to boot.

              1. i have a wasabi ginger rub that i sometimes use.

                1. and how long do you marinade the tuna for?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: blackbookali

                    Not critical: 1-8 hours. More time a bit more teriyaki flavor. Tuna steaks are tough enough that they don't cook in a relatively light teriyaki.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      True, my last were 4 hrs but thinner so a bitter more flavor. Too much for me
                      Last batch, very thick ... 6 hours and tasted great. Depends on the thickness

                    2. re: blackbookali

                      I don't do it too long since I put vinegar in my marinade, but I let it sit from about 30 min to 1 hour. I also grill in on med high heat and only cook the tuna rare/med rare, so the marinade dries up and caremelizes a bit on the tuna, but doesn't burn.

                      1. re: blackbookali

                        1-2 hrs for me, can go longer but tuna takes up flavor quickly 1-2 usually good.

                      2. If it is super-fresh just-off-the-boat, do not marinate it. Even with the not just off the boat tuna, I generally don't find it needs a marinade, but if I am so inclined it's in line with everyone else's suggestions: soy, Worcestershire, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, green onions, grated ginger, touch of sherry. You can then boil down the marinade and use it for a sauce when the fish is cooked.

                        1. Soy sauce, miso paste, sugar, garlic, ginger, a drop of rice wine vinegar.

                          I love miso with tuna and salmon.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            Hello and thank you for this very good information. I do have a question and hope that because of your obvious expertise you can help:
                            Someone has told me to use a combination of Rice Wine, Rice Wine Vinegar and Fish Sauce for the marinade overnight. Then to quickly braise on a hot skillet for a minute per side; slice and then serve with a sauce. Does that combination make sense?

                            1. re: helen21

                              A miso rub is relatively thick. The tuna will cook if you use too much rice wine and red wine vinegar (which I wouldn't use anyway). I use miso, bit of sugar, finely grated ginger, and just enough lime juice to make the paste easy to spread (by hand) over the tuna but not so much that the marinade is runny and would cook the fish. I rinse the marinade off before cooking. Searing a minute or so per side is fine. Put the fish presentation side down and turn when the fish releases from the pan by itself. This method is not braising (cooking a long time in some liquid).

                              1. re: helen21

                                Thank you Sam. I did mean "searing"- my mistake. Do you ever use fish sauce in marinades?

                                1. re: helen21

                                  No, I haven't used fish sauce in a marinade. Not sure why not. Is it good?

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Haven't tried it yet. Do you think that the rice wine is sold in liqueur stores only?

                                      1. re: helen21

                                        helen21, as kate says, in grocery stores. But you certainly have me thinking. All the way to rubbing my next roasted chickens with fish sauce.

                              2. I'd make a couple of suggestions to get that "sushi flavor" and nice rare inside to the tuna.

                                First, as others have suggested, a soy/garlic/acid (I use lemon juice)/ginger/sweet (honey or maple syrup) mix, with maybe a dash of sesame oil and wasabi. Don't marinate too long-- one hour or so is plenty, or the exterior will "cook", and you might find the meat going grey. But here is the real key:

                                1. Steaks are very tough to gauge doneness on, and the interior cooks quickly, going light pink and even grey very quickly. They need a very, very hot fire or pan to sear the outside nicely before the steak cooks through. So, iff you really want a rare, also most raw, dark pink interior, figure how many 1-1.25" steaks you want, then buy a piece of loin of tuna equal to the total length. Marinate and cook that for 5-6 minutes on all sides, and slice it into steaks after it is cooked.

                                2. Take the reserved marinade, bring to a boil, and take it off right away, preserving the fresh flavors. Drizzle it over the sliced steaks--that will really punch up the marinade flavor

                                That should give you the sushi experience.

                                1. I'm gonna go against the grain here. Marinating in acid for more than about 30 minutes isn't a good idea, particularly not in something like pineapple or ginger. Acids break down proteins and make them mushy and nasty. Fish is more susceptible than meat on that count because of how delicate its flesh is.

                                  I don't marinate many things, because I think it masks the flavor of the meat. It's an absolute sin in my book to flavor good tuna itself overtly. Make a delicious sauce on the side and enjoy the contrast.

                                  You add flavor to something that doesn't taste good on its own. I don't marinate good protein.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                    I'm with you, dmd. I rarely marinate anything I'm planning to grill or sear except supermarket chicken, which needs brining, at least.