This Tuna Tartare recipe is a culinary delight that effortlessly combines freshness and elegance in every bite. With Asian infused flavors, this dish invites you to savor a moment of sophistication yet is prepared with minimal effort. You'll love this easy to follow recipe that walks you through each step of how to make tuna tartare.
I love simple dishes and while I think food should look good, my recipes do not require elegance on every plate. When I learned how to make tuna tartare and realized it was both simple and elegant, I knew I wanted to perfect this dish to offer my friends and family an appetizer with a gourmet appeal especially on special occasions.
Additionally, Tuna Tartare is a refreshing alternative for light lunches, offering a burst of energy without compromising on flavor. The vibrant combination of ingredients not only caters to seafood enthusiasts and sushi lovers but also appeals to those seeking a health-conscious yet indulgent option.
Whether you're aiming to impress guests at a dinner party or treat yourself to a gourmet solo meal, this Tuna Tartar is a feast for the senses. You may also want to check out my easy Kani Salad which has similar flavors and textures but is made with imitation crab instead of raw tuna.
What is Tuna Tartare?
Tuna tartare is a dish made with sushi grade tuna diced up and soaked in a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. It's served raw, keeping the tuna's taste and texture intact. Many people also refer to it as tuna poke which is a traditional Hawaiian raw tuna salad. Tuna poke is often served in bowls with rice and other vegetables and sauces.
This particular recipe is paired with diced avocado, crunchy cucumber, and topped with sesame seeds and scallions for that extra flair. Perfect as a fancy appetizer or a light meal, tuna tartare is all about letting the quality tuna steal the show while adding some fresh and tasty vibes with the other ingredients. It's an easy way to impress without going all out.
- Fresh Sushi Grade Tuna – Fresh tuna should be of the highest quality and cut into small, flavorful cubes with a very sharp knife. Sushi-grade ensures it's safe for raw consumption. The best quality tuna can be found at Japanese supermarkets and my Asian grocery store or local fish market.
- Soy Sauce – This classic Asian condiment adds a savory and salty element to the tuna, enhancing its flavor. You can use ponzu sauce and tamari or liquid aminos for a gluten-free alternative.
- Sesame Oil – The nutty and aromatic essence of this oil complements the tuna's richness and adds depth to the marinade. A touch of sesame oil is all that is needed.
- Rice Vinegar – The vinegar brings a subtle tanginess and sweetness, balancing the flavors and brightening the overall taste of the dish. You can substitute apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
- Salt and Pepper – These enhance the flavors of the dish. Adjust to your preference.
- Fresh Avocado – Creamy diced avocado adds a luscious texture and a buttery flavor that pairs well with the tuna.
- English Cucumber – Cucumber provides a fresh and crisp element, serving as a vessel for the tuna tartare or as a refreshing side. If you don't have cucumber you can serve crisp pieces of iceberg lettuce.
- Scallion – Thinly sliced scallions or green onions add a mild onion flavor and a pop of color as a garnish.
- Black and White Sesame Seeds – These seeds not only provide a visual contrast but also bring a subtle nuttiness and crunch to the dish.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Tuna Tartare
- In a mixing bowl, combine the diced tuna with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Stir and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
2. Dice and season the avocado and press it into a ring mold on your serving platter.
3. Drain the tuna and gently press it on top of the avocado. Sprinkle a pinch of black and white sesame seeds over the tuna.
4. Garnish with scallions and surround the mold with cucumber slices. Carefully remove the ring mold before serving.
Hint: Be sure to work with cold ingredients. This will hold everything together and make for a cleaner presentation.
- Spicy Tuna Tartare – Add a kick to your tartare by incorporating minced jalapeños or a drizzle of Sriracha into the marinade. The heat will complement the richness of the tuna.
- Citrus Infusion – Introduce a burst of citrusy freshness by adding fresh lime juice or orange zest to the marinade. Citrus not only enhances the flavor but also adds a bright, refreshing element.
- Wasabi and Ginger Twist – Infuse Japanese flavors by adding finely grated fresh ginger and a touch of wasabi to the marinade. This combination adds depth and a hint of heat.
- Avocado Puree Base – Instead of diced avocado, create an avocado puree as the base for the tartare. This smooth and creamy layer adds a luxurious texture and is also a great option if your avocado isn't as soft as you prefer.
- Gluten-Free Tartare – You will need to substitute the soy sauce for gluten-free tamari or liquid aminos to make this suitable for gluten-intolerant people.
- Tuna Poke Bowls - Incorporate this tuna with rice, cucumbers, avocado or other veggies and serve with homemade Chipotle Mayonnaise or Bang Bang Sauce.
Tuna tartare is best enjoyed immediately after assembly to preserve its delicate texture and flavors. If you have leftover tartare you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge but it should be consumed within 24 hours.
- Select fresh sushi-grade tuna from a reputable source. The quality of the tuna is crucial since it's served raw.
- Maintain a cold environment while preparing the dish. Chilled ingredients, including the tuna, enhance the overall freshness and texture.
- Ensure that you dice the tuna into small cubes that are uniform is size. This consistency enhances the visual appeal and mouthfeel of the tartare.
- When combining soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar for the marinade, taste as you go to achieve a well-balanced flavor profile. Adjust quantities to suit your preferences.
- Allow the tuna to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This step ensures that the flavors meld together, enhancing the taste of the dish.
- Season the tartare with salt and pepper after marinating the tuna. This allows you to control the overall seasoning based on the intensity of the marinade.
- For an elegant presentation, use a plating ring to layer the diced avocado and marinated tuna. Press down gently for a neat and compact presentation.
- Tuna tartare is best enjoyed fresh. Serve it promptly after assembling to preserve the delicate texture and flavors.
While fresh sushi-grade tuna is recommended for the best texture and flavor, you can use high-quality frozen tuna if it's labeled as safe for raw consumption. Thaw it in the refrigerator and pat it dry before dicing.
Marinate the tuna for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Be cautious not to marinate it for too long, as prolonged exposure to acidic marinades can affect the texture of the tuna.
For a vegetarian option, consider using diced watermelon or mango in place of tuna. Marinate the fruit in a citrus-based dressing for a refreshing twist.
Adjust the quantities accordingly and consider presenting it on a large platter or as individual servings depending on the occasion. Prepare components ahead for efficiency.
While tuna is traditional, you can experiment with other sushi-grade fish like yellowfin tuna, salmon or yellowtail. Ensure they are safe for raw consumption and adjust the flavors accordingly.
If you like seafood appetizers, try these recipes!
How to Serve Tuna Tartare
You can serve Tuna Tartare in a variety of creative ways to elevate your dining experience. For a refreshing appetizer, spoon generous portions onto crispy tortilla chips or corn tortillas for tuna tartare tacos. Transform it into a light and elegant main course by arranging it atop a bed of mixed greens. Alternatively, layer the marinated tuna over a bowl of sushi rice, crafting a delightful rice bowl where each bite is a symphony of tastes. Replace the protein in any of these dishes with tuna tartare for a delicious twist.
- Asian Cauliflower Rice Shrimp Bowls
- Baja Fish Taco Bowls
- Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Cabbage Slaw
- Avocado Tomato Arugula Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
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- 8 ounces fresh sushi-grade tuna diced into small cubes
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 avocado diced and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 English cucumber sliced (for serving)
- 1 scallion thinly sliced (for garnish)
- 2 teaspoons Black and white sesame seeds for garnish
- In a bowl, combine the diced tuna with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Mix well to coat the tuna. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
- Season the diced avocado with salt and pepper.
- After the marinating time, drain the tuna from the marinade. Use a plating ring to plate the tuna. Start by adding a layer of diced avocado at the bottom of the ring, followed by a layer of marinated tuna. Press down gently. Sprinkle a pinch of black and white sesame seeds over the tuna and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.
- Remove the plating ring and serve with cucumber slices or crackers on the side. You can plate into one big platter or do smaller individual servings.
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