Ahi Tuna Salad reimagines the conventional salad, infusing it with vibrant flavors and an eclectic blend of textures. Picture thinly sliced, seared ahi tuna and buttery avocado slices elegantly perched on a bed of crisp red cabbage, delicate lettuce, and fresh cucumber, all tossed in a rich, tangy dressing. This light but satisfying meal transports you straight to an Asian bistro, using a vivid array of vegetables as a backdrop for the star ingredient—ahi tuna.
Designed to be visually appealing and tantalizing to the senses, this entire dish comes together in just 20 minutes. A quick sear ensures the tuna is golden on the outside but succulent within. Drizzle on the homemade Sesame Ginger Dressing, and you've got a meal that looks as fabulous as it tastes.
Ingredients for Ahi Tuna Salad
For the Salad
- Ahi Tuna Steaks: Choose sushi grade steaks that are bright red and free from any fishy odors.
- Avocado Oil: Or use another high-heat oil.
- Red Cabbage: Choose red cabbage that has tightly packed leaves and feels heavy for its size for freshness and full flavor.
- English Cucumber: Look for firm cucumbers with smooth skin.
- Butter Lettuce: Choose heads with crisp, vibrant leaves.
- Red Bell Pepper: Opt for shiny, firm peppers.
- Carrot: Choose carrots that are bright orange and free of blemishes.
- Green Onions: Look for fresh, green tops and firm white bulbs.
- Avocado: Ripe but firm is the goal.
- Slivered Almonds: Use unsalted, to control seasoning.
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the Dressing
- Soy Sauce: Use regular soy sauce or a low-sodium version to control the level of salt.
- Rice Vinegar: Make sure it's unseasoned for a cleaner flavor.
- Lime Juice: Use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best flavor.
- Honey: Use raw honey for a robust flavor.
- Fresh Ginger: Choose firm, smooth roots.
- Garlic: Fresh cloves are best; avoid pre-minced jars.
- Avocado Oil: Look for cold-pressed, unrefined options.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: Quality matters; choose one that smells nutty.
- Toasted Sesame Seeds: Store-bought is fine, or toast your own.
Ahi tuna, often called yellowfin tuna, is a versatile fish that gets a lot of attention in the food world. People love it for its vibrant red color, firm texture, and mild flavor. You can enjoy it in various ways – whether raw as sashimi, perfectly seared and sliced in salads like this, or in all kinds of sushi. It's known for its tender, slightly nutty taste, and when it's sushi-grade, you can expect a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
- During grilling season, top this salad with thinly sliced Grilled Tuna Steaks instead.
- Substitute soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos if you're looking for a gluten-free or soy-free alternative.
- If fresh lime juice is unavailable, try using lemon juice for a slightly different but equally tangy kick.
- If you're not a fan of red cabbage, green cabbage or Napa cabbage are good alternatives.
- For a nut-free option, replace slivered almonds with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
Ideas for Additions:
- Add thinly sliced radishes for extra crunch.
- Incorporate mandarin orange slices for a sweet contrast.
- Toss in some edamame beans for added protein.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Overcooking the Ahi Tuna: Searing the tuna for too long will make it dry and tough. Aim for a quick sear to keep the inside succulent.
- Using Low-Quality Tuna: Since this dish highlights mostly raw tuna, using anything less than sushi-grade quality is a mistake. Invest in the best to ensure both flavor and safety.
- Dressing the Salad Too Early: Adding the dressing to the salad too soon can result in a soggy, wilted dish. Dress the salad just before serving to maintain its crispness.
- Not Drying Leafy Greens: Any residual moisture on the butter lettuce can dilute the Sesame Ginger Dressing and affect the overall taste of the salad. Make sure your greens are completely dry before assembling.
More Recipes Featuring Fish And Seafood
How to Make Ahi Tuna Salad
Whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Combine all salad ingredients except avocado in a large bowl, toss with a small amount of dressing, and add more to taste. Divide the salad among four wide salad bowls or plates.
Pat tuna steaks dry, season, and sear in a hot skillet to desired doneness. Slice thinly with a very sharp knife. Top salads with avocado and tuna slices, sprinkle with almonds, and garnish as desired. Serve right away.
Ahi Tuna Salad
For the Sesame Ginger Dressing
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice from ~½ a lime
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutrally flavored oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds plus more garnish
For the Salad
- 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage or green cabbage or Napa cabbage
- 1 medium English cucumber thinly sliced
- 1 head butter lettuce washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces
- 1 medium red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot peeled if desired and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 3 green onions thinly sliced on the diagonal, plus more for garnish
- 1 medium avocado thinly sliced
- 2 ounces slivered almonds
For the Tuna
- 2 8-ounce ahi tuna steaks 1 ½ to 2-inches thick
- avocado oil or other high heat oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
To Make the Dressing
- Whisk rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, ginger and garlic together in a medium bowl until smooth. Add avocado oil then toasted sesame oil in slow streams, whisking constantly until emulsified. Whisk in sesame seeds and transfer to serving pitcher; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 3 tablespoons avocado oil, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
For the Salad
- Combine all salad ingredients except for avocado in a large bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Divide evenly among 4 wide salad bowls or plates.2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage, 1 medium English cucumber, 1 head butter lettuce, 1 medium red bell pepper, 1 medium carrot, 3 green onions
To Sear the Tuna
- Pat ahi tuna steaks dry and rub or brush all sides with oil; season both sides with salt and pepper.2 8-ounce ahi tuna steaks, avocado oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet (or large, non-stick skillet) over medium-high heat until hot; add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. When oil is shimmering (not smoking), add tuna steaks and sear for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully flip steaks and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until seared on the outside, but rare in the middle. (Add another 1 to 2 minutes per side for medium-rare.) Transfer to cutting board and, with a very sharp knife, thinly slice tuna steaks.
To Assemble Salads
- Arrange avocado slices and tuna slices evenly over the top of each salad. Sprinkle salads evenly with slivered almonds and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion if desired; serve immediately.1 medium avocado, 2 ounces slivered almonds