Pan-seared tuna steaks crusted with sesame seeds is a restaurant treat that is so easy to make at home you may never order it out again.

Sliced sesame-crusted tuna served over bibb lettuce and garnished with chopped scallions.

Served with fresh salad greens, steamed white rice, and soy sauce for dipping, these pan-seared tuna steaks make a deliciously light and simple meal.

Tuna buying tips

The cooking method for tuna steaks is very easy and straightforward, so the only secret to success is the quality of the fish. When purchasing tuna steaks to be served rare or raw in the center, be sure to shop with a reputable vendor and look for the designation of sushi and/or sashimi grade.

While there are no actual laws in place that govern this labeling, knowledgeable vendors generally require that any fish bearing the sushi or sashimi grade has been frozen at or below recommended temperatures for specified amounts of time. These guidelines ensure that the fish is safe to be consumed raw, so if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Handling guidelines for sushi / sashimi grade tuna:

  • Frozen for at least 7 days at -20°C (-4°F) or
  • Flash-frozen at -35°C (-31°F) for a minimum of 15 hours

If you like pan-seared tuna, you may want to try Salade Niçoise with Pan-Seared Tuna, our version of a classic French salad made with tuna, hard-cooked eggs, green beans, lettuce, tomatoes, Niçoise olives, capers, and anchovies.

Seared rare tuna steak on a platter of green leaf lettuce.
Sliced sesame-crusted, rare tuna on a bed of lettuce.

Sesame-Crusted Tuna Steaks

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Pan-seared tuna steaks crusted with sesame seeds is a restaurant treat that is so easy to make at home you may never order it out again.


  • 4 tuna steaks, 1-inch thick, about 6 ounces each
  • 1/3 cup white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil


  • Combine the white and black sesame seeds on a plate and spread them in a thin layer.
  • Whisk the sesame oil and soy sauce together in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle a little of the mixture over each tuna steak and rub with the back of a spoon to cover the entire surface.
  • Season with a little black pepper, then turn the steaks and repeat the process.
  • Dredge the tuna steaks in sesame seeds (sides included), pressing gently to ensure they cover the fish evenly and completely.
  • Film the bottom of a heavy pan with a small amount of vegetable oil, then heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, add 2 of the tuna steaks and sear just long enough for the white sesame seeds to develop a little golden color, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per side.
  • If desired, you can use tongs to gently support the steaks and sear the edges of the steaks all the way around as well, 15 to 20 seconds total should be enough time.
  • Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and repeat the process with the remaining steaks.
  • Cut the tuna steaks into thin slices and arrange over fresh greens.
  • Serve with soy sauce and wasabi for dipping, steamed rice on the side, and a garnish of sliced scallions.
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 345kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 67mg, Sodium: 517mg, Fiber: 3g
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