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Straight from Michelin Star restaurant, K&L Bistro in Sebastopol, California, this easy Tuna Tartare recipe is one to learn by heart.  A delectable combination of sushi-grade Ahi Tuna, buttery avocado, citrus and aromatics with a gentle sriracha kick and a tangy sweet, creamy dressing to finish, I bet it will be the best you’ve ever tasted.

tuna tartare served on a white plate

There aren’t many restaurants where I’m comfortable ordering absolutely anything on the menu, where I would just as soon not even look at the menu knowing that I’ll be wowed by whatever arrives at my table, but K&L is that kind of place.

The first time we ate at K&L, my dad and sister treated us to a lavish assortment of dishes. Suzanna (who was the restaurant’s manager at the time) insisted that we try the tuna tartare and she’s a woman to know and a woman who knows, so of course we tried it. After the meal, I conjured the courage to ask Suzanna if Karen and Lucas might, please oh please, share their recipe with me and perhaps allow me to share it with you. Oh generosity! They agreed.

Ingredients You Need to Make Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Fresh Raw Tuna: best quality, sushi-grade tuna
  • Shallot: One small shallot will be ample for this recipe even if you double it.
  • Chives: look for fresh, firm, bright green chives or the green part of green onions if you can’t find fresh chives
  • Salt: fine sea salt
  • Olive Oil: good quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon: fresh lemon juice
  • Sriracha Sauce
  • Fresh Avocado: One small, ripe avocado is enough even if you double the recipe.
  • Ponzu Sauce:
  • Mayonnaise: good quality store bought or homemade mayonnaise 

FAQ

What is Tuna Tartare?

Tuna Tartare is a dish that’s made from raw, sushi-grade tuna, diced small and combined cold with lemon juice or other dressing, aromatics, good quality olive oil and, often, avocado. It’s served as a cold appetizer to spoon onto crackers, thinly sliced cucumber or other accompaniments.

Who invented tuna tartare? 

Shigefumi Tachibe, a French-trained chef who was born in Japan, invented the recipe for Tuna Tartare in 1984 at the Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills where he was the executive chef. He created the dish as an alternative to steak tartare for restaurant patrons who didn’t want meat.

Why is it called tuna tartare?

The word tartare means, “chopped fine and served raw.” So the title of the dish means: tuna chopped fine and served raw.

Is tuna tartare raw or cooked?

Tuna tartare is made with raw, sushi-grade tuna.

Is tuna tartare like sushi?

Though similar, tuna tartare is made with diced raw tuna combined with a light sauce or dressing and other ingredients, where sushi is typically made with thinly sliced raw fish and served on or rolled with vinegared rice, nori and other ingredients.

Tuna Tartare served on a white plate with lemon wedges and photographed from the top.

Recipe Options

Though I love this appetizer exactly as it is, here are a few ideas for modifying or embellishing it if you like.

  • Use sesame oil in place of all or part of the olive oil.
  • Stir in a little bit of minced fresh ginger.
  • In the springtime, use fresh spring onion instead of the shallot.
  • Use fresh lime juice instead of fresh lemon juice.
  • Add extra sriracha sauce for a spicy tuna tartare.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

More Must Try Recipes, If You Love Fish and Seafood

How to Make Tuna Tartare

With a very sharp knife, finely dice raw, sushi-grade tuna and avocado.

Whisk together ponzu sauce and mayonnaise to taste.

ponzu sauce and mayonnaise mixture with spoon in glass bowl

Combine shallot, chives, salt, olive oil, lemon juice and sriracha sauce in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Add diced tuna and avocado to shallot mixture and stir to combine.

diced tuna and avocado tossed with dressing in bowl

For the most elegant presentation, oil the inside of a mold and set over a small serving plate. Spoon tuna mixture into mold and press to form. Carefully lift mold. Drizzle with ponzu mixture and garnish with microgreens if desired. Chill until ready to serve. 

Recipe Video

Tuna Tartare

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian
Calories: 124
Servings: 2 people
A delectable Tuna Tartare recipe courtesy of Michelin Star restaurant, K&L Bistro in Sebastopol, California.

Ingredients  

  • 1 teaspoon chopped shallot
  • 2 teaspoons chopped chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce or more if you like it spicy
  • 1/3 cup sushi grade tuna cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 avocado cut into 1/4 inch cubes, to taste
  • ponzu sauce and mayonnaise mixed to taste
  • microgreens for garnish, optional
  • crackers or cucumber slices for serving

Instructions 

  • Combine first 6 ingredients (shallot through sriracha) and stir to combine. Add tuna and and avocado; gently stir to combine. Mound on a small serving plate or press into an oiled mold or small bowl and turn out onto serving plate for a more elegant presentation.
  • Finish with a drizzle of sriracha sauce on plate along with a drizzle of combined ponzu with mayonnaise. Garnish with microgreens if desired and serve with crackers or cucumber slices.

Notes

  1. K&L serves the tartare with pot sticker wrappers that have been brushed with buttermilk pressed into a mixture of black and white sesame seeds and deep fried @ 300 degrees until golden brown.
  2. You can scale this recipe to serve as many as you like. Be sure to note the volume of your mold (if using) and use multiple serving plates or serve multiple stacks on a single plate.

Nutrition

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 349mg | Potassium: 243mg | Fiber: 3g | Vitamin A: 225IU | Vitamin C: 8.1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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21 Comments

  1. Ben | Havocinthekitchen says:

    5 stars
    This is such a stunning and elegant Tuna Tartare and the colours are terrific – just like happy sunshine on a plate!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I love that, Ben! Thank you so much.

  2. Frank | Memorie di Angelina says:

    Sounds exquisite, Marissa! Sushi grade tuna is one of the loveliest things you can put in your mouth. And the pairing with avocado is, of course, a classic one. The flavorings here take it to another level!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, Frank! I agree about sushi grade tuna – nothing else quite like it.

  3. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    Wow, this recipe comes straight from a Michelin-starred restaurant! That means I’m duty bound to make it as I’m sure it will be delicious. The colors and flavors in this recipe sound absolutely fantastic! I’ll have to figure out who has the best sushi grade Ahi tuna in town now!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I’m so excited for you to try this, David!

  4. Valentina says:

    Marissa, this is STUNNING! The colors are beautiful and along with your garnishes, it’s a work of art. And I can almost taste how delicious it is. 🙂 ~Valentina
    P.S. I have a friend who lives in Sebastopol so I just passed this along in case she doesn’t know the restaurant.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      aww…thank you so much, Valentina! I’d bet she does no the restaurant – I just read this week that they’ve sold the restaurant after 21 years in business. I’m so grateful that they passed along this recipe – I’ll think of them with gratitude whenever I make it.

    2. Nereida says:

      I can’t wait to try this recipe

  5. Kay G says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is absolute perfection! We have made it 5 times in the last three months. If you can get sushi grade tuna, you need to make this.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe, Kay! Thank you for coming back to let me know!