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America’s Test Kitchen: Grilled tuna with tender center can be a challenge


    Grilled tuna steaks with vinaigrette in Brookline, Mass., from a recipe in cookbook “Master of the Grill.”

Perfectly grilled tuna steaks should combine a hot, smoky, charred exterior with a cool, rare center. For a home cook, this ideal can be an elusive goal.

To pull this off, we moistened the tuna steaks’ flesh with a vinaigrette to promote browning and allow the oil to penetrate the meat.

Instead of using sugar in our vinaigrette, we used honey. Both promote browning, but honey does it faster, which was important with the quick cooking times for tuna on the grill.

It’s easy to add complementary flavors to this dish by mixing up the seasoning in the vinaigrette.

We prefer tuna served rare or medium-rare. If you like your tuna cooked medium, observe the timing for medium-rare, then tent the steaks with foil for 5 minutes before serving.


By America’s Test Kitchen

  • Olive oil, as needed to grease grill grate
  • 6 (8-ounce) tuna steaks, 1 inch thick
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • >> Vinaigrette:
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

>> For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

>> For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes.

>> To make vinaigrette: Whisk together vinegar, thyme, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until lightly thickened and emulsified. Measure out 3/4 cup for cooking tuna. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for serving.

Clean cooking grate, then repeatedly brush with well-oiled paper towels until grate is black and glossy, 5 to 10 times.

Pat tuna dry with paper towels. Generously brush both sides of tuna with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Place tuna on grill (on hotter side if using charcoal) and cook (covered if using gas) until grill marks form and bottom surface is opaque, 1 to 3 minutes.

Flip tuna and cook until opaque at perimeter. For rare, fish should be translucent red at center when checked with tip of paring knife, with an internal temperature of 110 degrees, about 1-1/2 minutes. For medium rare, fish should be reddish pink at center and register 125 degrees, about 3 minutes.

Serve with reserved vinaigrette. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 560 calories, 37 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 81 mg cholesterol, 398 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, no fiber, 2 g sugar, 50 g protein.

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