Pepper Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna with Tahini Sauce

October 18, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by Jenya | BlueGalley
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

This recipe is fast and easy, but tastes like you are at a 5 star restaurant. The key, as always, is the freshness of the fish. Look for a nice thick chunk of sushi grade Ahi tuna with a bright deep pink color. Plus, you only need 5 common pantry ingredients: oil, butter, salt, pepper and a hot pepper spice. I love Piment D’espelette (ground from the Espelette pepper which is grown in the Basque region of France), but hot paprika would also do the trick or just a pinch of cayenne.

Serve it just with the seasonings or drizzle a delicious sauce like the Lemon Tahini sauce, which you can also use as a dressing on a green salad or a vegetable side, like steamed green beans or broccoli. —Jenya | BlueGalley

What You'll Need
  • For the Tuna:
  • A thick piece of sushi grade Ahi tuna (about 1 lb) or 2 smaller pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Piment D’Espelette (or hot paprika, or a pinch of cayenne)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Tahini Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients for the tahini sauce in a mason jar and shake vigorously. If the dressing looks too thick, add another tablespoon of water, if it looks a bit runny, add a little more tahini until a nice and creamy consistency. Add more salt if desired, set aside and make the tuna.
  2. Sprinkle the tuna all over with kosher salt (about 1/2 tablespoon), the Piment D’Espelette and freshly ground black pepper. If possible, set your pepper grinder to a thick setting and grind enough pepper to cover both sides of fish. I usually pick up the fish and dip the side edges in the spices that didn’t make it on the fish. You can also crack the pepper manually in a mortar and pestle or place in a zip log bag and smash with bottom of a pan.
  3. Heat the oil and butter together until butter is melted, add the whole black peppercorns and cook over medium heat until peppercorns pop, about 5 minutes.
  4. Raise heat to medium high, add the tuna and sear a couple of minutes. Flip the fish and sear another 2 minutes.
  5. If you like your fish to be less raw, sear 3 or 4 minutes per side. It also depends on the thickness of the tuna. Remove tuna from pan and slice against the grain.
  6. Arrange nicely on plate, spoon some of the juices along with the whole peppercorns (they will be soft and delicious after cooking them) over the tuna and drizzle some Tahini Sauce over. The tuna is also wonderful just on its own.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Andrea Burrows
    Andrea Burrows
  • Joe Zee
    Joe Zee
  • borntobeworn
  • Chef Devaux
    Chef Devaux

7 Reviews

Heidi June 22, 2022
My husband made this recipe as is and it was phenomenal! This is one to save. It is restaurant quality, easy, and impressive. The tahini sauce and the peppercorn crust are so unique and absolutely delicious!
Andrea B. May 24, 2020
This is my favorite tuna recipe, the sauce is amazing!
H S. July 21, 2019
Excellent, fast, easy. A keeper.
Chris H. December 3, 2018
The sauce is exceptional. Makes the dish. Start with less water though. 1/4 cup. I found I had to add tahini to thicken.
Joe Z. May 10, 2016
Skip the mustard in the tahini sauce
borntobeworn April 20, 2016
I've made this a few times and it's really restaurant-worthy! The sauce is also great on various vegetables :).
Chef D. November 20, 2015
I wanna eat the tuna in that pic!