How to Fry Ahi

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Ahi tuna loves the frying pan almost as much as it does the water -- maybe a bit more. What better way to dress an ahi in black and white than a crispy, fried crust made of black and white sesame seeds, or a fierce-tasting blend of grated wasabi and freshly cracked black peppercorns. You get the best results from pan-frying when you only cook to medium-rare and use sashimi-grade ahi cut at the fish counter, where you can sense the hallmarks of freshness -- moist, shiny flesh, a pink to crimson color and a fresh, ocean-like smell -- before you buy.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Black and white sesame seeds (optional)
  • Spices (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Straight-sided stainless-steel pan or regular saute pan
  • Oil
  • Tongs
  • Remove the ahi from the refrigerator and pat it dry with paper towels.

  • Make a crust for the ahi, if desired. You can go for a play on colors and mix together white and black sesame seeds in a 2-to-1-parts ratio, or mix together a few dried spices. Pour the crust in an even layer on a plate.

  • Coat the ahi with a thin layer of oil and dip all six sides in the spices or sesame seeds. Season it to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you're not using a spices or sesame-seed crust, you can season the ahi to taste on all six sides with just kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • Add some oil to a straight-sided, stainless-steel pan -- if you have one. Use a regular saute pan if you don't. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers or you see small wisps of smoke coming from it, about five minutes.

  • Lay the ahi in the pan gently by hand or place it on a fish spatula and gently slide it off into the pan. Either way, don't splash the oil.

  • Sear the ahi for 30 to 45 seconds on the two broad sides, using tongs to turn the steak over. Grasp the ahi with the tongs and sear each of the four smaller sides for 15 to 20 seconds each. Don't move the ahi once you place it in the pan, except to turn it.

  • Remove the steak from the pan and place it on a plate to rest for a few minutes before slicing it.

  • Slice the ahi into 1/4-inch wide slices on a cutting board using a non-serrated kitchen knife.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have less than sashimi- or sushi-grade ahi, or you just don't like medium-rare seafood, you can roast it in a shallow dish in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes per pound, or until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
  • Always use a sharp, non-serrated kitchen knife to cut meat.
  • MayoClinic.com cautions pregnant women not to consume more than 6 ounces of tuna steak per week and to cook all fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Further, the American Pregnancy Association advises pregnant to avoid eating ahi tuna during pregnancy due to possible high mercury levels. If you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant, consider consulting your doctor before consuming ahi.

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