I can just see it. Chris and I floating on turquoise water, with the lush green Hawaiian coastline in the distance and a warm breeze hitting our smiling and tan faces.
We’ve been out on the water since noon trying to catch our dinner almost giving up hope, when Chris finally reels in a beautiful 70 pound Yellowfin. After gutting and cleaning the fish and making our way back to the marina, the sun is setting and I find myself perfectly tipsy from a couple of Mai Tais and ready to just relax. But also hungry for some tuna! And though I’m thinking about poke, crispy fish tacos and ceviche, after a long day, I know I need something easy, I need:
The pepper crusted Ahi tuna recipe I turn to for a fail proof and perfectly seared tuna steak with minimal clean up.
And as I take a bite of the freshest and most perfect melt in your mouth pepper crusted seared Ahi tuna, only one thought is running through my mind… what the heck am I gonna do with the other 68 pounds? Luckily we’ll have plenty of space in the freezer and hungry fellow sailors nearby 😉
This recipe is fast and easy, but tastes like you are at a 5 star restaurant. The key, as always, is the freshness of the fish. Look for a nice thick chunk of sushi grade Ahi tuna with a bright deep pink color. Plus, you only need 5 common pantry ingredients: oil, butter, salt, pepper and a hot pepper spice. I love Piment D’espelette (ground from the Espelette pepper which is grown in the Basque region of France), but hot paprika would also do the trick or just a pinch of cayenne.
Serve it just with the seasonings or drizzle a delicious sauce like my Lemon Tahini dressing, which you can also use as a dressing on a green salad or a vegetable side, like steamed green beans or broccoli.
So, even though I’m not sailing in Hawaii yet, I can at least make this delicious recipe whenever I come across a beautiful piece of Ahi at the market and sail away into the Hawaiian sunset with every bite.
Ahi IS Yellowfin!
This whole time I thought Ahi tuna was its own subspecies within the tuna family. Turns out Ahi is just the Hawaiian nickname for plain old yellowfin tuna. I love researching the Foodstory for my recipes! I always learn something that makes my life easier. In this case, just one less fish species to remember, because there certainly are a LOT.
The term Ahi literally translates to “a large tuna, especially as an item of food” and is used in Hawaii to refer to two species of large tuna that is available locally: yellowfin and bigeye tuna. The fish has to be large to be called Ahi. If the tuna is small, then it is called a “Shibi”.
Ahi tuna is a great healthy and low carb choice when it comes to fish. A good source of lean protein, it is also rich in key nutrients like niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, phosphorous and magnesium. It’s also very low in saturated fat and sodium, and boasts plenty of healthy omega-3’s.
Ahi tuna is a very popular choice for dishes like sushi, sashimi, poke, or tuna tartar, where it is served basically raw. But it’s also delicious when grilled (or blackened), seared and broiled. I love tuna and have some form of it at least once a week.
When purchasing Ahi at your local market, look for fish that is labeled “sushi grade”. This means that it is of higher quality and ok to be consumed raw. To be labeled sushi grade, the fish must be considered free of any parasites. This is usually achieved by flash freezing the tuna on the boat right after it is caught. While maintaining the freshness and texture of the fish, this method rids its flesh of any possible dangerous microbes.
Peppercorn Crusted Ahi Tuna with Tahini Sauce
- A thick piece of sushi grade Ahi tuna (about 1 lb) or 2 smaller pieces
- 1/2 tbs whole black peppercorns
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp Piment D’Espelette (or hot paprika, or a pinch of cayenne)
- 1/2 tbs butter
- 1/2 tbs canola oil
- Tahini Sauce