Ahi tuna salad is brimming with lots of fresh Asian flavors, and it's a terrific light yet protein-packed meal. My ahi tuna salad recipe is prepared with slices of sesame-crusted, freshly seared ahi tuna, pickled ginger, wasabi, cucumbers, radishes and edamame, and dressed with a flavorful ponzu-ginger vinaigrette!
Seared Ahi Tuna, the Perfect Topper for a Refreshing Salad
If there's one thing that's pretty darned hard for me to pass up, it's a light and fresh ahi tuna salad...
I've always been very partial to the delicate flavor of ahi tuna, and absolutely love it in spicy tuna rolls, or just-barely-seared and on its own, dipped into a spicy combination of wasabi and soy sauce—so delectable!
The flavor of a fresh piece of ahi tuna is so incredibly clean and mild that it needs very little to be the star of a light and refreshing dish, and salad is a fantastic vehicle for it.
My ahi tuna salad is filled with greens, cool cucumbers, mildly spicy radishes, a sprinkle of edamame (shelled, blanched soy beans), some pickled ginger on the side as well as some extra wasabi.
Dressed in a ponzu-ginger vinaigrette, this ahi tuna salad recipe makes preparing one of our favorite delicacies super simple in the comfort of our own kitchen.
No need to go to a sushi restaurant to enjoy this dish!
My Recipe for Ahi Tuna Salad with Ponzu-Ginger Vinaigrette
When it comes to purchasing ahi tuna to be consumed on the raw or very rare side, it's important to buy it from a reputable source.
You want to purchase the freshest fish for this salad that you can (sushi or sashimi grade), because the ahi is only being seared very briefly in a hot skillet. The center should remain raw (or very rare, ideally), and the outside barely cooked.
If you have a fish monger or a quality fish market nearby, then opt to purchase your ahi tuna there. And when you do purchase it, make sure the fish is firm and fresh smelling.
Because there's very little cooking when it comes to this ahi tuna salad, you can easily put together your dressing first and prep your salad once your ahi tuna steaks are marinating.
Then, all that's left is to sear your sesame-crusted ahi tuna steaks, slice them, and top your salad with the slices.
Here's a glance at my ahi tuna salad recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I prepare my ponzu-ginger vinaigrette to have ready and on hand.
- Next, I marinate my ahi tuna steaks for 20 minutes in a tasty marinade.
- Then, I prep my salad and have that ready in a bowl to toss with some dressing.
- I press my marinated ahi tuna steaks into a combo of black and white sesame seeds, sear for 1 minute on the first side in a hot skillet (cast iron is great for this), then sear for 45 seconds on the second side. I allow the ahi to rest for a moment while I toss my greens with the dressing, and arrange the greens in a bowl or on a plate.
- Finally, I slice the ahi tuna into thin slices, then arrange those seared slices on top of my salad, and serve with some pickled ginger, extra wasabi and ponzu or soy sauce on the side.
Ahi Tuna Salad
by Ingrid Beer
This ahi tuna salad is prepared with sesame-crusted, seared ahi tuna, fresh greens, cucumbers and radishes, plus a ponzu-ginger vinaigrette!
Yield: Serves 2
Nutrition Info: 752 per serving (with about 3 tablespoons vinaigrette)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes
Total time: 22 minutes
Ahi Tuna Salad Ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- ¼ (slightly heaping) cup ponzu
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 (6 ounce) ahi tuna steaks (sushi or sashimi grade)
- 1 baby bok choy, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2 cups spring mix greens
- 2 cups arugula
- 2 large radishes, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 medium Persian cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup shelled and blanched edamame (soy beans)
- Avocado oil, for searing
- 3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- ½ avocado, sliced, optional garnish
- Pickled ginger, optional garnish
- Wasabi paste, optional garnish
- Soy or ponzu, optional (for dipping)
Ponzu-Ginger Vinaigrette Ingredients:
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- ¼ cup ponzu
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- ½ tablespoons honey
- Begin by gathering and prepping your ponzu-ginger vinaigrette ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare your vinaigrette, add all of the ingredients into a jar with tight-fitting lid, and shake vigorously until well blended. Set aside.
- Next, gather and prep all of your salad ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To marinate your ahi tuna steaks, whisk (or shake) together the ginger, ponzu and sesame oil. Place the ahi tuna steaks into a deep glass dish or bowl, pour the marinade over top, and marinate for 20 minutes, turning the ahi steaks half-way through the marination for even flavor.
- While the tuna marinates, prep your salad by adding the sliced bok choy, mixed greens, arugula, radishes, Persian cucumber and edamame to a large bowl and gently tossing to combine. Keep cold in the fridge.
- Once the ahi tuna has marinated, add your black and white sesame seeds to a large, shallow bowl, and use your fingers to combine/blend.
- Next, place cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Remove the ahi tuna steaks from the marinade, and allow the excess to drip off. Press each steak into the sesame seeds (both sides) to create a sesame-crust. Drizzle a little avocado oil (about 1 to 2 tablespoons) into your cast iron skillet, and once the skillet is very hot, add the ahi tuna steaks in and sear for 1 minute on that first side (you can go a little longer if you don't prefer it raw).
- Flip the ahi tuna steaks and sear for 45 seconds on the second side (again, go a little longer if you want it more cooked), then remove from skillet and place onto a plate to hold.
- To finish the salad, toss as much of the ponzu-ginger vinaigrette with the salad greens as you'd like (start with less and add more as needed), then arrange between two large plates or two large, shallow bowls.
- Slice the ahi tuna steaks thinly against the grain, then arrange the slices on top of the salad greens. Garnish each salad with slices of avocado, some wasabi, pickled ginger, and extra ponzu or soy sauce, for dipping.
Tips & Tidbits for my Ahi Tuna Salad recipe:
- Freshest ahi tuna you can find: For a preparation such as this where you'll be consuming the ahi tuna quite raw or very rare, opt to spend a bit more and purchase the best quality you can find. Go to a local fish market in your area if you have one, and choose sushi or sashimi-grade ahi tuna that is firm and very fresh smelling.
- What's ponzu? Ponzu is a soy sauce and citrus-based marinade and dipping sauce that tastes terrific with ahi tuna. You can find it in the same section of the market that you typically find soy sauce.
- Wasabi powder, or wasabi paste in a tube: I've used wasabi powder and the pre-made paste for different preparations, and they both work great. The powder needs to be mixed with a touch of water to form the paste-like texture, but the paste in the tube is already pre-made, so it's more convenient. I personally tend to prefer the already-mixed wasabi paste, and typically find it in the Asian food section of the market where the soy sauce is. You can also order it online.
- Cook longer, if you don't like ahi tuna raw: While just barely seared ahi tuna is the best tasting preparation for this salad, you can cook your ahi tuna longer if you prefer. Just keep it in the pan and cook it through to your liking. However, keep in mind that the longer you cook it the drier the texture will become, so take care not to overcook.
- Choose your favorite greens: I'm using arugula and mixed greens here, because I like that little bit of spiciness they offer. I also like the cool, mild flavor of cucumbers, radishes and soy beans. You can use romaine if you like, a little Napa or green cabbage, even shredded carrots—whatever you'd like to add in for color and flavor.