Marinated Tuna Steak

I realize that tuna is an expensive fish, but there is almost no waste, it tastes great, and it is full of those wonderful fatty acids that we are supposed to eat. I made this dish last night, and had I not known what I was eating, I would have sworn that it was a New York Strip steak. It went wonderfully with the sautéed tomatoes that you, hopefully, see below.

Marinated Tuna Steak


2-inch thick tuna steak, trimmed of skin and any connective tissue
oz. of good-quality extra virgin olive oil
tsp. fresh thyme leaves (don’t chop them)
tsp. fresh black pepper
tsp. lemon zest

½ tsp. kosher salt

Whisk the olive oil with the lemon zest and the thyme and pour over the tuna steak. Dredge the tuna through the oil so that it is completely covered in the oil-and-herb mixture. Cover and refrigerate for two hours. If you remember, turn the steak once or twice to ensure even marinating. Remove the steak from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat a heavy cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat for at least five minutes. Make sure that it is well seasoned; otherwise, the fish might stick to the pan. Meanwhile, remove the tuna from the marinade and salt and pepper both sides. leave whatever thyme and lemon has adhered to the fish. Turn the heat up to high for about one minute and place the tuna steak in the middle of the skillet. Do not move it or poke it; you are looking for a nice sear, and if you are impatient, the tuna will stick to the pan and you will have to order a pizza. The house is going to get a bit smoky, so turn the exhaust fan up to hurricane setting. With a large metal spatula, turn the fish, hopefully in one motion. After another three minutes, you have a choice of removing the tuna or searing the sides, as well. Just be careful not to overcook the tuna. Let the steak rest for a minute, then slice and serve. By the way, the cooking time above is for a rare steak (the only way to have it).

6 Replies to “Marinated Tuna Steak”

  1. If you are lucky, they stick to the tuna and impart a nice toasted herb flavor when they hit the hot pan. But their work is done when you take the tuna out of the marinade.

  2. How about sprinkling a bit more thyme on just before it hits the pan. And please, more salt!If you leave the tuna, in the marinade, at room temp. for 30-60 mins. before it helps. Also a bit more rest after cooking will even it out, if you don’t like the raw center.

  3. I tried to keep this as simple as possible to let the flavor of the tuna predominate. If I were grilling this I would definitely toss on a few sprigs of thyme just to get that great fragrance. But I am uneasy about overloading the subtler pan-seared flavor with the herb. I’ll try the longer room-temperature marinating next time. And half the fun of this dish is the almost raw center. Medium or well done just doesn’t do it for me. Tuna dries out pretty quickly, so I would rather err on the underdone side. Besides, what’s wrong with seared sushi? As for more salt? I thought about it and decided to keep the salt to a minimum, just to see if the subtle flavor of the thyme and the lemon zest would be enough. It worked out pretty well, although it was a mild flavor. I think I would salt just before cooking rather than adding additional salt to the oil. What do you think?

  4. agreed. i was refering more to the coldness of the rare tuna rather than the degree of doneness.i would put no salt in the marinade. just rub the fish with coarse salt and then rinse or soak 2-3 mins. in VERY salty water. then rinse, pat dry and put in the marinade. then season just before cooking. i do this with all fish. gets any residual stuff off from wherever it’s been held and brightens it up. just make sure to dry it well, especially if searing or saute-ing.

  5. Ah, now I understand. I’ll give it a try and update the recipe. You don’t trust the imaculately clean display cases at your local fishmonger? I am shocked!

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