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Apr 25, 2012 11:50 AM

Got a nice piece of tuna, help me sear it properly, please!

I just bought a lovely piece of sushi grade tuna from Eataly. I want to sear it tonight so that it's still quite pink in the middle. I find I often over do it and it ends up cooked through.

Please give me your step by step tips on how to get this right. I read on another thread that putting it in the freezer first helps, but one person said 15 mins, one person said an hour, and the issue never got resolved. Do you use cast iron? Any oil needed? How many minutes each side?

Help me make the most of my $25 piece of fish!


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  1. Hot pan with a high smoke-point oil would work. So would a hot grill. Timing is dependent on the size and shape of the fish (i.e.: no one-size-fits-all solution), but you're only looking to sear it on the surfaces so a minute or two should be plenty.

    Don't see why you'd need to freeze it.

    Have fun!

    1. Hey there,
      I'm not sure how you want to season it but here's a very neutral recipe that can be adjusted in lots of different flavor combinations.

      Preheat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on high heat

      Pat tuna dry and season liberally with salt and cracked pepper (the fish can take a lot of seasoning)

      Sear the tuna for 1 minute on each side for very rare in the middle, longer for closer to medium rare. I would probably cut into it after 2 minutes though and see if it is approaching the level of doneness you're looking for. Better to undercook than overcook!

      Let the fish sit for a few minutes then slice. I like this with some raw olive oil and some red wine vinegar on top with another pinch of salt. Serve with some good vegetables and you have a nice meal! Enjoy!


      1. I know a lot of people do freeze it first; 10-15 minutes would be plenty. An hour would be much too long. That said, I don't feel a need to do so. Hot cast iron pan is fine; use a little oil and put the fish in for about 2 minutes per side. It should release easily; if you're tearing it that will ruin the sear. Always keep in mind that it will continue to cook a little after you take it out or off the heat. I judge by the outside and once the cooked, white flesh just starts to show then I flip it if I want to keep it raw inside. If you want it cooked a little more inside, just let the cooked flesh rise up the side a bit more. As BGM suggested, grilling it is a nice if it's an option available to you.

        1. Temper your Carbon steel or Cast iron pan over medium heat. Season the tuna. Turn heat to Medium high, add a small amt of oil (pref. rice bran, grapeseed, peanut heat tolerant oil) and tuna. Count to 20, Turn count to 20 repeat until all sides are seared.

          Rest on a rack for a minute or two. Slice, Plate, Serve. It's not necessary to freeze but you can if you are nervous, just work fast have your pan hot, fish spat/tongs, resting rack handy before you begin

          1. No need to freeze, you'll want high heat and some olive oil to get a good sear on it. Season first depending on how you'll serve (ponzu, soy sauce, etc.). Then just a minute on each side (for a large piece). IMO you have a great piece of fish that could be eaten raw, don't overdo it. Have fun!