Seared Ahi Tuna

Even though it’s a chain restaurant offering, I LOVE PF Changs Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer. The problem is, I don’t know how to prepare it at home. What’s the Straight Dope on properly searing Ahi tuna? And does anyone know of a good mustard recipe like PF Changs to pour over the seared tuna?

Proper seared tuna? Very high heat, 60 seconds a side, at the most. Just get sushi-grade tuna and you’re set.

If you have a chimney starter, here’s Alton Brown’s recipe, for 15-30 seconds a side. Making ahi tuna is dead simple. Just don’t overcook it.

You can watch Alton Brown cook tuna on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2

AB’s chimney starter trick is awesome, I highly recommend it.

One nitpick, ‘sushi grade’ is meaningless marketing-speak. There is no industry-accepted defintition for the phrase and no regulatory body or association to enforce it if there was one. Be deeply suspicious of anyone who tries to justify a higher price by calling their tuna sushi-grade. Now, fresher, or better quality to begin with, those are worth paying for.

And if you have a few slices of cold leftover seared ahi, it goes awesomely well with a fried egg for breakfast the next morning.

Interesting. I did not know that. Let’s just say “impeccably fresh” ahi. I’ve seen plenty of ahi I would not want to eat raw. To be fair, though, all fish you eat should be as fresh as possible, but a graying piece of ahi you might be able to get away with if you use it for a different application other than searing and serving rare.

Agreed, as fresh as possible is always best. Interestingly, the FDA recommends that producers/retailer freeze all fish intended for uncooked consumption in order to kill parasite larvae. See http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~comm/haccp4e.html

Of course, the tuna business is such that unless you live near the fishing boats (and are paying top dollar), it is almost certain that the tuna you buy will have been frozen then thawed for sale. Which is just fine by me. You start to get into trouble (aesthetically and health-wise) when the now thawed fish sits for a few days in the fish case.