Recipes Main Courses Seafood Spice-Crusted Tuna

Spice-Crusted Tuna

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Toasted cumin and fennel seeds, with their smoky flavors, complement tuna steaks. This dish calls for impeccably fresh sushi-grade tuna. Serve the steaks on a bed of arugula or accompanied with grilled vegetables.


  • 4 tsp. fennel seeds 
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds 
  • 1/4 tsp. peppercorns 
  • 4 sushi-grade ahi tuna steaks, each 5 oz. and 1 inch thick  
  • 2 tsp. canola oil 


In a small, dry fry pan over medium heat, toast the fennel and cumin seeds, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until the fennel turns yellow-beige, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a plate and let cool.

In a mortar, combine the toasted fennel and cumin seeds and the peppercorns and crush with the pestle. Spread the spice mixture on a plate. One at a time, coat the tuna steaks on both sides with the mixture, pressing with your fingers to help the spices adhere.

In a cast-iron or other heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil until it is hot. Add the tuna and cook until lightly browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over and cook until browned on the second side, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer the fish to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes.

Transfer the fish to warmed individual plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).

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