Ahi Tuna with Soy Ginger Lime Sauce

4.71 from 181 votes
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Sesame-crusted ahi tuna with soy ginger lime sauce is a healthy and very simple dish to make! Pickled cucumbers add a sweet and tangy crunch with each bite.

Sesame crusted ahi tuna with soy ginger sauce

At the market, I’m always keeping my eye out for some good fresh fish, and recently I scored two beautiful ahi tuna steaks, and I knew just what to do. Nothing is easier and more delicious than sesame-crusted ahi tuna that has been lightly seared and served rare with some tangy soy dipping sauce.

I’ve been daydreaming about tropical Palm trees, sandy beaches, and warm waters lately. I think momma needs a vacation! Well if I can’t get on a jet plane, I can, at least, bring some fresh island cuisine to us.

Sliced ahi tuna with sesame crust on cutting board

Cooking raw fish may seem harder than it is. Of course, I was a little intimidated when I first started working with sushi-grade fresh fish. For this recipe, all you need to do is sprinkle sesame seeds on the outside of the steaks and quickly sear each side in a very hot pan for about a minute.

That’s it! The searing gives a nice contrast of textures with each bite; savory cooked edges and tender throughout. Make sure that as tempting as it may be, do not overcook the fish. Otherwise, you end up with the stuff they use for tuna fish salad.

bowls of sesame crusted ahi tuna with soy ginger sauce

Chopsticks holding seared sesame crusted ahi tuna

I like to serve sesame-crusted ahi tuna steaks two ways depending on how hungry we are, hehe. I cut the seared fish into thin slices serve them with some pickled cucumbers and soy ginger-lime dipping sauce, or with brown rice and tons of vegetables to make a healthy tuna bowl.

close up of sesame crusted ahi in a bowl with avocado and slices of carrots

Oh man, you are going to demolish each bite, the tangy-sweet soy sauce ties all of the flavors together. We enjoyed this meal of super fresh seared ahi tuna and all of the fixings. I could certainly go for this meal every week!

More Asian recipes

How do I know what kind of raw fish to purchase?

It’s really important to consider food safety when consuming raw fish. You want to make sure you talk to the vendors before buying the fish to make sure it’s safe for raw consumption. It’s also a good idea to buy fish that has been previously frozen because some species of fish contain parasites and freezing them will kill those that may be present. However, freezing doesn’t kill all harmful microorganisms which is why it’s good to cook the fish to be the safest. Searing the ahi tuna on the surface helps to reduce the risk of microbial contamination, but still make sure you buy and store fish that has been properly handled. (Source: FDA.gov)

Ahi Tuna with Soy Ginger Lime Sauce

Sesame-crusted ahi tuna with soy ginger lime sauce is a healthy and very simple dish to make! Pickled cucumbers add a sweet and tangy crunch with each bite.
4.71 from 181 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Japanese


Pickled Cucumbers

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, Kikkoman
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, dried
  • 2 6-inch japanese cucumbers, or Persian, cut into ⅛-inch slices

Soy Ginger Lime Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice, about 2 limes
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, plus 2 more teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, dried


  • 20 ounces ahi tuna, (four 5-oz pieces) about 1-inch thick
  • 8 tablespoons sesame seeds, (white, black or mixture of both)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil


Pickled Cucumbers

  • Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and chili flakes in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Remove from heat. Add cucumber slices and stir.
  • Let it rest for 10 minutes, then transfer cucumber to a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Soy Ginger Lime Sauce

  • Whisk together all soy ginger lime sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.


  • Place sesame seeds on a plate. Pat dry the tuna steaks with a paper towel to remove excess water.
  • Dredge and press tuna in sesame seeds, coating evenly. Sprinkle with more seeds as needed.
  • In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until just smoking.
  • Frying two portions at a time, arrange the tuna steaks in the pan (do not overcrowd) and cook until the sesame seeds start to turn golden underneath, about 1 minute.
  • Turn the tuna over and cook for 1 minute.
  • Sear the edges of the tuna for 15 seconds on each edge.
  • Transfer the tuna to a plate with a paper towel, gently patting to soak up any excess oil. Repeat with remaining tuna portions.
  • Transfer tuna to a cutting board and cut ¼-inch thick slices.
  • Arrange tuna on individual serving plates or bowls. Serve with pickled cucumbers and soy ginger lime sauce.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 318kcal (16%)Carbohydrates 30g (10%)Protein 36g (72%)Fat 4g (6%)Saturated Fat 0.2g (1%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 0.4gCholesterol 69mg (23%)Sodium 1105mg (46%)Potassium 34mg (1%)Fiber 0.3g (1%)Sugar 23g (26%)Vitamin A 200IU (4%)Vitamin C 13.2mg (16%)Calcium 30mg (3%)Iron 0.9mg (5%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating

90 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Jenn says

    This was great! the only modification I made was to slightly salt the fish as I felt the fish itself was kind of bland. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Debbie says

    My husband and I made this 2 nights in a row!!!!! The sauce was so amazing with then tuna we had to make it again.

  3. Kelly says

    I can’t wait to try this. We are having Ahi Tuna for dinner tonight. I will be using this recipe! Thank you for sharing. I am also trying those cucumbers! 🙂

  4. Leola Specht says

    Great fresh tuna recipe, we absolutely loved it, thank you Jessica! FYI: I avoid putting honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, etc. in sauce for fish recipes. It’s unnecessary added sugar. Recipe comes out great without sugar. And I never blot with paper towels when a recipe says to do that (I don’t use parchment paper or foil or other single use disposables – it saves money and reduces trash – either). I used a cast iron pan to cook the fish. I was making other things in the oven, so I warmed the cast iron pan in the oven with the other things and when the sesame tuna was ready to cook, I put the tuna in the pan, cranked the oven up to broil and did the cooking on both sides in the oven. I used less red pepper because I don’t like spicy. And cooked the tuna through slightly more because we don’t like too raw. Adjust to your liking 🙂

  5. Joshua Resendez says

    Great meal, one of the best I’ve ever had. Only thing I did differently was the cook time on the tuna. I cooked them in a cast iron pan at about 350-400 degrees for about 10-15 seconds a side and a couple seconds on the edges.

  6. Sandra Zajac says

    This is a fabulous recipe! have mad it several times and everyone loves it. would love to get more asian type recipes .

  7. Madeleine says

    Excellent recipe. I only added miso paste on the tuna so the sesame seeds sticks very well. Your sauce is excellent. My family and friends loved your pickles. Question, can we reheat the liquid to redo more pickles or is it better to make new recipe one we ate all the Pickles?

  8. Paige Muller says

    This recipe was amazing! So easy to follow and it took less than 30 minutes to make. This will be a repeat recipe in our house!

  9. Stacey says

    This recipe produces restaurant-quality results. I prepared it during the Spring 2020 shelter-in-place and had pretty much all the ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator (I subbed radishes and mild jalapeños for the pickled cucumbers). This recipe is a keeper.

  10. Rob Malgieri says

    Five Star Recipe! Absolutely perfect meal. Pickled cucumbers (I only had regular cucumbers, so peeled and thinly sliced & added some thinly sliced onion) were excellent, and my first try at pickling. Soy Ginger Lime Sauce was done exactly as per the recipe and was awesome. I lightly coated the tuna with grape seed oil before coating with the sesame seeds (I did add some cracked pepper and a pinch of salt to the mixture) and it held on nicely during cooking. There was not a bit of leftovers.

      • Amber Reeves says

        I made the recipe for the first time this evening with yellowfin tuna. My husband and I have been married 18 years and I’ve made many delicious dinners. Tonight he said that of all the meals I’ve ever made this one is the best. I tip my hat. This is a great recipe and I think the cucumbers are my favorite part!

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Wow, what a HUGE compliment Amber. Thank you for giving the recipe and try and sharing it with your husband. Cheers to more delicious meals to come!

  11. Andrea says

    Jessica, the is hands down one of my favorite meals. I don’t even know how I found this recipe, but everything about it is perfect! I have a wonderful coconut rice (I prefer the rice with coconut cream, not milk) recipe that makes a wonderful addition as well—it tempers the tanginess and umami of the sauce. A+++! Thank you so much!

  12. Kerry says

    Top shelf recipe, Jessica. Always loved grilled Ahi tuna, but this recipe is so full of flavour, texture,freshness. Followed this recipe to a T and would change nothing.
    Well Done!

  13. Gail says

    Just tried tuna on the grill for the first time. Going to try this recipe next. What are Japanese/Persian cucumbers? Can I substitute seedless cukes?

  14. Eszter says

    Hello, this recipe sounds awesome. Do you think if I prep some in the evening and take it for lunch the next day, would that be a problem, considering the tuna is raw in the middle? Or if I store it in the fridge it’s ok?

  15. Jeff Stites says

    Pat the tuna steak as dry as possible – moisture is the enemy of a good sear – then put down a thin layer of wasabi paste and press it into the steak. I use a BBQ hook to move the steak in and out of the sesame seeds. Tongs just mess up the coating. The wasabi adds a nice little kick and helps the seeds adhere. Refrigerating the steak for 30 minutes also helps dry the coating and adhere better.

  16. ES says

    I have made this ahi recipe multiple times and it is fabulous! Family loves it. I do use half white and half black sesame seeds and have wasabi on the side. I also omit honey in the sauce. It’s a delicious recipe.

  17. Dianna Gittelman says

    Made this for a birthday dinner and even non sushi guests were swooning. Every bite was delicious. I used if for an hors d’oeuvre and said let’s just have this for dinner.Such a great recipe!

  18. Jeanne C says

    Made this because I was getting over a bug and it all sounded so delicious and it WAS! My WHOLE family loved it and my one son asked if I could make it at least once a week. Highly recommend and very easy. Made it with a Greek spinach rice which though they were culturally very different made a nutritional power house and made me happy, thanks for this great recipe.

  19. Catherine Gingras says

    I love this recipe. Sometimes I make the pickled cucumbers to serve to guests as hors-d’oeuvres and it’s always a hit!

  20. Claire says

    Made the pickled cucumbers and the soy ginger lime sauce for some seared ahi yesterday, and it was DELISH! We’ll have to make the recipe again sometime, thanks for sharing!

  21. Bonnie says

    Hi Jessica,
    I couldn’t make the Ahi Tuna like yours. I didn’t have enough sesame seeds. But, I googled say e for Ahi Tuna, your name came up. Well, since I get your newsletters with re pies, I feel I know you and tryst you. So I opened your blog and seen the sauce. I have all ingredients so I made it. I pan seared on a grilled pan two Ahi Tunas. Oh my gosh! My husband and I loved it! That sauce is wonderful. Is it hard to keep sesame seeds on thenAhi? I thinking of trying it next time I buy fresh Ahi. Again, superb!!! Bonnie. Ps. I would give 5 stars for the sauce but, I don’t have the option. I don’t know why I don’t.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for your feedback Bonnie! I’ve heard of people lightly oiling the outside and then coating with seeds. Maybe this would work for you next time? Happy to hear that you and your husband enjoyed the recipe 🙂

  22. Rene White says

    Oh my goodness! This is a totally gourmet meal. We added fresh salad & your shrimp spring rolls. Yummy! Thanks sooo much for sharing these wonderful recipes!

  23. Roberta Verville says

    Jessica – wow?!

    This was AMAZING.

    Followed to the best of our ingredients: “pickles”. Left out sugar and didn’t heat (only because I mixed and didn’t read instructions) and perfect accompaniment. Sliced avocado. Because, well Keto. And that sauce… OMFG. Our sub was ( despite my objection) sugar free maple syrup for honey – no really – I could have drank this stuff!! The seared tuna was out of this world…topped with a pinch of micro greens. I will seek out black and white sesame seeds to add to presentation next time but overall wow.

    This was stupid good.

    Can’t wait to make again….for company. 😉

    Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo hoo! Thank you for sharing your experience Roberta. Love all the substitutions, will have to try!

  24. Jess says

    I made this meal last night and it was delicious! Thank you for sharing. And those pickles are so yummy! I made another batch of the brine and put thinly sliced red onions in it, they are very tasty!

  25. Kiara says

    I made the Tuna steaks and sauce tonight and it was delicious! Very simple, plus I had all the ingredients on hade, just served with mixed greens and Goddess dressing … it was restaurant quality! Thank you!

  26. Angela says

    I know this is an old post but I just whipped up the sauce for some ahi tuna we are making and wow…love it! Thanks Jessica

  27. M says

    This tasted perfect … must learn how to slice without crushing…
    my 2ç – barely just dribble a dot of the sauce and put rest in a bowl to dip!

  28. Lhyzz says

    What a great idea – sesame seed crust!

    I altered the recipe a little, just to be a rebel. Also, I don’t like chili flakes, or raw ginger/garlic. So I chopped up some scallions, the garlic, and ginger, let it cook in a little oil left in the pan from the fish, then added the liquid ingredients. I let it simmer down for a little while, then drizzled it all over the sliced ahi. One of the most delicious things I’ve ever made!

  29. Letha says

    OMG I have to say this will be probably one of my all time favorite meals! The picked cucumbers were unbelievable with the tuna (and I am not a fan of picked anything). We paired it with a simple salad of shredded broccoli stalks, cabbage, carrots and red onion, drizzled with some of the soy ginger lime sauce as the dressing. To die for! That was last night’s dinner, and I’m still drooling over it today! Although – tonight’s dinner is your Chicken Udon Soup with Bok Choy. Its a keeper too! Yum! So looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Best comment ever! Thank you so much Letha for trying 2 recipes 🙂 I’m so happy that you wear open to trying something different (pickled vegetables) and liked it!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Carol- Great question! I have not tried grilling the tuna steaks. Do you have a grill pan that you could use that you could lightly spray or grease with oil? My only concern is that the the fish may stick to the grate or not cook as evenly since it’s not an even surface. I think I would recommend sticking to the pan, or use a nonstick pan if you are concerned about frying with too much oil.

  30. Paul says

    Made this recipe for the first time last night and it was great! The Soy Ginger Lime sauce Rocks complements the fish so well. I think you should just bottle that stuff 🙂

    I didn’t have a problem getting the seeds to stick to the fish, just press down firmly and they stick with no added oils or ingredients to affect the flavor.

    I did have a question about the cucumbers. After you let them set in the liquid mixture for 10 mins, you say remove and put into a container and refrigerate. Do you keep the liquid w/the cucumbers or just remove the cucumbers from the liquid?

    This will be my go to recipe for our next dinner party.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Paul! So thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the recipe and the sauce! What do you think I should name the sauce? 🙂 Great question about the cucumbers! I transfer the cucumbers and liquid into a container so that it has more time to brine.

  31. Luis says

    Great recipe! Absolutely loved it! Brushing the tuna steak w/ olive oil helped the sesame seeds stick to the tuna. Super easy and super simple.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Luis! I appreciate your feedback 🙂 I’ve tried the olive oil and it definitely helped!

  32. Robinb says

    I made this a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to make it again. Delish! I like your presentation. What do you put in the salad?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Robin! Thank you so much for your feedback, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe 🙂 For the salad it is fresh spring salad greens, shredded carrots, avocado and your favorite dressing.

  33. LynnieD says

    made this last night for 4 adults. It was great. Served it with steamed rice and an asian inspired made up salad by me of bite size chunks of avocado, cucumber (not rounds but chunks of half moons), a little seasoned rice vinegar, fresh basil, a drizzle or two of sesame oil, fresh lime juice, salt & pepper.

    Question on the fish though. I would love to find a way to have the sesame seeds stick better to the fish. After patting the fish with paper towels as instructed, the seeds tend not to stick as well. Wondering if a light spritz of coconut oil might help it stick. I seared the fish in coconut oil because of its ability to handle high heat.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Lynnie! The salad sounds wonderful, I love all of the fresh flavor combinations with an asian twist. I think brushing the fish lightly but evenly with a little bit of melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil before coating to help the sesame seeds stick is a great idea!

  34. sharyn says

    I made mine the other night by pressing sesame seeds into the top and make it on my forman grill. (The flat insert) Came out great. I only used braggs amino’s which tastes like soy sauce. It was a little salty so only used a little to dip. I usually keep pickled ginger from the grocery store on hand but ran out and substituted lol cranberry sauce..It went equally well.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are a Rock Star Sharyn! That’s a great idea to use the forman grill, cooks evenly and at the same time on both sides, genius! I’m loving the substitutions, great way to improvise 🙂

      • sharyn says

        Jessica thanks for the kudo’s but I didn’t close the lid for I wanted to watch and see that it didn’t get overcooked. I know a burger will cook on the grill in about 3 minutes and I think that would have been too long. I watched to see the outside cook to about 1/8 of an inch and then flipped it sear the other side. I’ve been cooking for many years and have recently gone to cooking clean. Believe it or not I found the solution to my lifelong weight battle. It’s all the preservatives and additives that mess with our metabolism. I was to the point where I was barely eating and shut down my metabolism to almost zero. Now I eat more and much better. Rarely use anything but fresh food and non gmo’s plus meats that are not treated with antibiotics. You may pay more but less is more satisfying so consequently you eat less.

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Thank you for clarifying the cooking method Sharyn! So happy to hear you have found out what food works for you 🙂

  35. Keith Miller says

    Made this last night. Absolutely delish! Used roasted black sesame seeds but otherwise followed recipe exactly as described. My wife said, “This is good enough for company!” haha. Thanks so much.

  36. Barb says

    I’ve made this recipe several times and it’s one of my favorites!! It’s so fresh and beautiful. The lime ginger sauce is perfect. Last night I had my 20 year old twin boys and my 23 year old niece over and served this. They were totally “wowed” and couldn’t get enough. We also each added a little wasabi to the tuna for an extra kick. I’ll be making this for many years to come.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for the lovely comment Barb! I’m so happy that your family enjoyed the recipe 🙂 Great idea to serve with the wasabi!

  37. MaryLou says

    I just found your site yesterday and I prepared the sesame crusted tuna recipe last night. I followed it to a “t” with one exception–I only had enough ahi for one serving so I also used a small swordfish steak. They were both fantastic! This a keeper recipe. Also made the dipping sauce, pickled cukes and onions. Served all with rice and homemade kimchee. I sliced the cucumbers and onions on a mandolin and the thin slices really absorbed the pickling brine.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      That sounds amazing MaryLou! The swordfish steak is a great variation, plus all of the pickled sides, yum! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe 🙂

  38. Grateful =) says

    Hi Jessica,
    My husband LOVES to eat OUT and vegetables are not his favorite. He devoured this and kept commenting that it was better than eating out and is re-thinking about the benefits of cooking at home. I made the ahi with black sesame seeds. The presentation was beautiful and is delicious with the Soy Ginger Sauce. Mmmmm! He ate all his Picked Cucumber Salad–and looked forward to eating the extras for snack!! Thank you, Jessica!! =)

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m a big fan of eating out too, but sometimes I don’t feel like I get the quality and value compared to coking at home. I am SO happy that your husband enjoyed the recipe and is eating some veggies, hehe. Cheers to you for making the recipe and hitting it out of the ball park! I appreciate the time and effort of you making the recipe, can’t wait to hear how your future cooking adventures go!

  39. Jessica says

    Awesome! My husband and I inhaled this! Cucumbers were so good and the sauce was just perfect for dipping. I served over brown rice. Used a little olive oil to make seeds stick…perfect!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Jessica- I’m so glad you guys enjoyed the ahi dish! Great tip for making the sesame seeds stick 🙂

  40. TimedEating says

    Truly beautiful photos and a great looking recipe – going to have to give this one some link love 🙂 I have a really similar recipe except instead of using sesame seeds I use a combination of spices including coriander seeds and fennel seeds. I’ve found a little mustard helps them to stick as well.

  41. Thalia @ butter and brioche says

    This is exactly how I like to eat my tuna.. nice and raw in the middle and slightly charred on the outside. I must make this dish, it is so delicious and SO healthy.