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Sesame Tuna with Ginger Ponzu Sauce – Recipe!

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Southern California is the land of sushi with all of our Japanese restaurants and cafes inspired by some of the most talented chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa and Niki Nakayama of n/naka.  These places have enticed our palates to crave these wonderful Asian foods and inspire us to prepare simple fish dishes in our own kitchens.

Tuna is an abundant fish and super easy to prepare, which makes it a good choice for home cooking.  Ahi, the fish we are probably most familiar with, can be found at seafood markets, farmer’s markets or higher end grocery stores.  This fatty fish sears nicely in a pan because it can handle higher heat, while preserving a rare center and a nice golden exterior.

Sesame seeds are a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and using these seeds to adhere to the flesh of this fish creates outstanding texture.  Ponzu is a mixture of soy and lime juices and makes a refreshing sauce for dipping – a nice compliment with the Sesame Tuna.

I think this recipe is great to serve for a light dinner or as an appetizer before a more decadent Asian spread.  Also, you can refrigerate the tuna after cooking and eat it for lunch during the week for a spectacular noontime favorite.


1 pound fresh tuna, about 3-inches thick

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil

2 cups lettuce leaves, any variety

Ponzu Sauce

1-inch piece of fresh ginger

1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon chili oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

juice of 1/2 lime

(Serves 2-4)

To Prepare:

1. Place an iron skillet over high heat and add 2 teaspoons of grapeseed oil.  Remove tuna from any packaging and pat dry.  Sprinkle fish on both sides with sesame seeds and salt.  Place in hot pan and sear exterior for 1 1/2 minutes.  Make sure to check sesame seeds are not burning on the outside, lower heat slightly if getting too dark.

2.  Flip fish over and sear other side for 1 1/2 minutes, or until a golden exterior.  Remove and place on a cutting board.

3.  Peel and grate ginger, add to a small bowl, along with all Ponzu Sauce ingredients.  Stir sauce and set aside.

4.  Slice tuna across grain, about 1/4 inch thick.  Layer a few lettuce leaves on plate and serve with a few slices of tuna, drizzle with sauce.  Enjoy!

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