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Marinate your tuna

  • Grilled tuna steaks with lime-ginger vinaigrette from a recipe that appears in “The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook.” AP

  • This image provided by America's Test Kitchen in July 2018 shows the cover for “The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook.” It includes a recipe for grilled tuna steaks with lime-ginger vinaigrette. (America's Test Kitchen via AP)

America’s Test Kitchen
Published: 7/31/2018 4:46:20 PM

Tuna steaks are a treat, and the intense heat of the grill is perfect for getting a good sear on the outside while keeping the inside tender, moist and pleasantly pink. We wanted a foolproof method for grilling tuna to perfection, and we decided to make vinaigrette that would complement the fish but not overshadow it.

We found that marinating the fish before grilling worked to season it throughout and ensure remarkably moist grilled fish; a bit of ginger and five-spice powder proved a simple way to boost the flavor of our oil-based marinade. We found we could let the steaks marinate for up to 24 hours, making our recipe more flexible.

As for the grilling method, we built a hot, concentrated fire by pouring the coals over only half the grill, which encouraged the exteriors of the steaks to cook quickly before the interiors could overcook. To accompany the steaks, we made a lime-ginger vinaigrette and gave it more aromatic depth with coriander seeds, fresh clantro, and fresh basil. A bit of fish sauce offered some umami notes.

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Lime-Ginger Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons lime juice

1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves

⅓ cup canola oil

Salt and pepper


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon five-spice powder

Salt and pepper

4 (6- to 8-ounce) tuna steaks

Whisk lime juice, ginger, coriander, pepper flakes, fish sauce, basil and cilantro in bowl until well combined. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Combine oil, ginger, five spice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in 1-gallon zipper-lock plastic bag; add tuna, seal bag, toss to coat, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.

Clean cooking grate, then repeatedly brush grate with well-oiled paper towels until grate is black and glossy, five to 10 times.

Remove tuna from oil, place on grill (on hotter side if using charcoal), and cook (covered if using gas) until grill marks form and bottom surface is opaque, 1 to 3 minutes.

Flip tuna and cook until opaque at perimeter and translucent red at center when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 110 degrees (for rare), about 1½ minutes, or until opaque at perimeter and reddish-pink at center when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), about 3 minutes. Serve with vinaigrette.

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