What to Serve with Tuna Steaks – 15 Tasty Options
Tuna steak is like the beef tenderloin of the sea. It’s flavor and impeccable tenderness is at its highest when it’s cooked on the outside but left uncooked on the inside.
When done right, a seared ahi tuna steak can taste divine to any fish lover, and even those of us who aren’t regular fish eaters.
It’s a unique type of fish because you can actually eat it and enjoy it raw, and it simply tastes great. The contrast of a seared or blackened outside with a buttery, tender inside can easily put this healthy steak near the top of your favorite foods list.
And while you can eat ahi tuna in different forms, such as a thick steak, filleted into thin strips, sandwiched in a burger or even chopped up in a salad, even seasoned cooks will contemplate what to serve with tuna steaks.
Before you dig into some tasty paring options, It’s good to take pause for a moment and consider how you plan on preparing your tuna steak.
What do we mean?
Well, first tuna steak can be seared (blackened), grilled, broiled, baked, sauteed or even dried. It can even be smoked, and Ahi poke is a Hawaiian style where tuna loin is diced into small pieces and served raw.
You can also create any number of rubs for the exterior, to lend to both the flavor and texture of the tuna.
A thick, blackened crust alters the experience in your mouth versus a light coating of only salt, pepper and oil. You can dial the savory up or down depending on what and how much you use.
Then there’s the question of which sauce to concoct for dipping the end product into or if you’d rather drizzle a complimentary cream or glaze over the top.
These decisions can certainly affect what goes with a tuna steak dinner in the end.
It can be a tough call, and you may want something more than just a plain salad, wild rice or a baked potato.
Let’s unwrap this a bit and survey a bunch of choices.
You might be surprised, but one of the ideas below is about to make your meal even better (if that’s possible!?)
What Goes with Tuna Steaks: Our List of Top Sides
1. Sliced Tomato and Cucumber Salad
We kick our list off with something fresh, raw and delightfully basic. A few quick slices, and you’ve got a refreshing side to go with a tuna steak.
As with any crisp and cool side dish, this one may be most appreciated during the warmer months.
Picture taking your tuna steak off the grill directly to your outdoor table on your back patio where your salad awaits.
What a delicious setup this is for an ahi and vegetables combo!
Speaking of delicious, Lisa from Wine and Glue grabs our attention with her easy-peasy recipe for quickly assembling this salad for a superb balance of flavor. Follow it to a “T” at: wineandglue.com, and you’ll be all set!
2. Garlic Fries
Tuna steak is one healthy choice when it comes to lean meat.
So…we think it’s ok to be a little sinful on your plate by adding some crispy, oven-baked garlic fries.
Believe it or not, these fries pack their own punch of healthfulness.
Just don’t eat too many because they are carbs after all.
A fry rendition like this is so fitting with a seared tuna steak because, like our steak, you’re going for crispy on the outside and supple on the inside.
To do these fries just right, you’ll need a helpful guide. That guide is Krista from Joyful Healthy Eats.
She keeps this side dish as healthy as possible with her own take on these delicious homemade fries. Visit her at: joyfulhealthyeats.com, and you’ll be so glad you did.
3. German Creamed Spinach
Who says you can’t mix a Hawaiian favorite with a German favorite? No one! So we do it here with this highly nutritious German treat.
Known as Rahmspinat in Germany, this cooked spinach with cream sauce will surprise you enough to use it as a go-to side for any kind of steak, not just tuna.
Chungah at Damn Delicious shares her super creamy and best tasting recipe that offers up results you’ll come back to time and again. See it all go down at Chungah’s food blog: damndelicious.net
4. Stir Fried Vegetables with Asian Sauce
Tuna steak is pretty versatile. Sometimes you just don’t know if you want to go BBQ, Hawaiian, American cuisine or Asian with it.
Well, here’s a way to help you decide -- delicious stir fried veggies with a sauce that will blend oh so well with your tuna steak.
We’re talking ingredients like sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, garlic and sugar to name a few -- some of which are mostly likely already in your tuna steak rub.
You HAVE to check out Jenn’s recipe from Once Upon a Chef.
She mixes a perfect blend of veggies and seasoning -- watch out tuna steak, you’ve got some competition for best thing on the plate! See Jenn’s amazingness over at: onceuponachef.com.
5. Margherita Flatbread
Let’s go a little bready for a minute.
In fact let’s go Italian and look at what goes with tuna steak that will kick your whole meal up a notch. Yep, that’s margherita flatbread pizza.
Flatbread gives you perfectly sized, individual servings and offers up fresh veggies with a tomato base -- a wonderful side or even appetizer for ahi tuna steak.
You can give this one a try by following Kimberly over at The Daring Groumet. She is truly bread savvy, and when it comes to naan flatbread, she knows exactly what to do with it.
And you can too by following her quick and easy recipe at: daringgourmet.com. Give it a try!
6. Roasted Crispy Brussels Sprouts
If you want to go restaurant style and serve up a darned good compliment food to tuna, then you gotta go crispy. You gotta go edgy, crumbly styled Brussels sprouts.
Roast these babies to perfection with special infused flavors for a magical combination.
In fact, roasting this often misunderstood vegetable provides just as many flavor options as the tuna you’re preparing itself: We’re talking BBQ, spicy, Asian and more.
If you’re using sesame seeds on your fish, spread some on your Brussels sprouts too for a nice, continuous flavor between the two dishes!
If you want to check out these flavor options, head on over to: ohsheglows.com, where Angela from Oh She Glows takes you through the entire process of perfecting the cooking AND the flavoring of these.
7. Colorful Ahi and Vegetable Skewers
Back to the grill we go with some grilled veggie skewers.
Along with red onions, zucchini and herbs, Red, Yellow and Green bell peppers always remind us that food is just as much about appearance as it is about nutrition.
Adorn your side plates with some skewered, sliced vegetables that can be ever-so lightly blackened on the edges just as your blackened ahi tuna steak can be.
For a quick lesson on doing these skewers right, check out Jessica’s guide at The Forked Spoon. She’s done this many times and shares a lot of great little tid-bits to make you a pro too. Head on over to: theforkedspoon.com for all the goods.
8. Lightly Salted Chips
Here’s another tuna steak side you’ll find frequently in restaurants. You could say it’s a slight nod to the classic combo fish and chips.
If you want your tuna to remain the star but still crave a nice, simple side-kick then homemade potato chips make a great choice.
Best of all, you’ll be in keeping with the healthy theme of this meal with some thin, lightly salted chips that will taste yummy without filling you up (depending on how many you eat, of course!)
This video from Home Cooking Adventure shows you just how simple making some delectable chips is. Enjoy!
9. Winter Citrus Salad with Honey Dressing
Continuing on with light and healthy, we propose one of the most popular side dishes for ahi tuna steaks in the salad category.
But not just any salad…a low-cal, but a satisfyingly sweet one.
A few sliced or wedged oranges (red and orange varieties) with some pink grapefruit, pomegranate seeds and avocado along with a drizzle of honey create an explosion of flavors.
You just can’t deny it isn’t delish’.
What else you can’t deny is how Karylynn from The Kitchen Magpie makes this gorgeous salad! It looks amazing and tastes just the same. To get yours just like Karylynn’s check out her post at: thekitchenmagpie.com
10. Barley Risotto Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Here’s another vegetarian side dish -- one that’s definitely on the hearty side for both texture and flavor.
This is probably our favorite accessory that’s more than ready to go with a tuna steak.
The creamy risotto rice with the heavenly coupling of the barley and mushrooms put this one into divine status.
And if there’s one chef who knows all the ins and outs to making this beyond splendid, it’s Carol over at From a Chef’s Kitchen.
Her recipe will wow you into gathering up all the required ingredients before you can even get to the next side dish idea on our list! Check it out now at: fromachefskitchen.com
We move now to a French classic -- sliced veggies roasted in pepper sauce known as ratatouille.
While this one takes a little longer (you have to roast the peppers first before baking the whole thing), you’ll fall in love if you’ve never tried this one before.
Remember the movie?
This impressive casserole is a favorite side dish or appetizer for holiday meals, family dinners or any feast where you want to go that extra mile for your taste buds.
You’ll want a good recipe for Ratatouille, and there’s no other better than Savita’s from Chef de Home. She gets you on the right track for this veggie layered casserole that will make you say “C’est magnifique!”. Take a look now at: chefdehome.com
12. Lobster Bisque
You have to throw in a seafood side dish in this list. You just have to. You also need a soup, right? We cover both in one with Lobster Bisque.
This is an exquisite synthesis of sweet lobster, veggies and herbs.
Cream and sherry augment the whole thing to superior richness that pairs well with seared tuna steak.
Lacey from A Sweet Pea Chef spotlights her dairy-free, gluten-free and paleo take on this soup. You can trust that she makes the whole process as easy as it should be. See it all at: asweetpeachef.com
13. Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
The influence of honey and its sweetness is back again.
This time we feature roasted sweet potatoes with trademark crispy exteriors and melt-in-your-mouth centers -- another ode to seared tuna steak!
There’s something special about creamy sweetness coupled with a blackened tuna steak.
It’s like having your dessert while you eat the main course -- your palate will thank you in every bite.
For a simple rundown on how to make these goodies, check out the video above.
14. Roasted Tomatoes
Tuna steaks would definitely fall under the “quick and easy” chapter in a recipe book.
It’s just cut, season and with a bit of high heat, your cooking is done in under five minutes, including resting.
So why not prepare a companion side that’s just as easy? Enter: pan roasted tomatoes.
Pick up some fresh cherry tomatoes or any plum type tomato.
Start them in the oven, and they’ll be ready to go by the time your tuna is ready in the 20 minutes.
Rachel from Stay At Home Chef shares her simple recipe and answers basic questions for roasting tomatoes if you’ve never done it before. Check it out at: thestayathomechef.com
15. Tempura Green Beans
If you haven’t tried fried green beans, here’s your chance.
This is a unique way to get a new kind of crunchy on your green beans and enjoy some good fiber.
Fried in tempura batter, this is a Japanese style used on fish and seafood that will get your mouth watering immediately and ready to go.
Learn how to make this wonderful restaurant-style veggie from Connie at Casa Veneracion. Connie doesn’t mess around in delivering a tempura style side dish that will leave you wondering why you didn’t try this before: casaveneracion.com
What Goes with Tuna Steaks Extra Innings
Honestly, our list above could go on for pages. But who wants to try and pick an item or two from that many choices?
These chosen 15 are all incredible pairings, and of course it doesn’t just stop with what sits next to your tuna steak as you eat it.
What about on it or what to eat before?
Sauces, Rub and Glazes
Unless you’re making a tuna burger, salad, or even ahi nachos or quesadillas, you probably want to know the best sauce for seared ahi tuna.
Typically, a dipping sauce made with salt, olive oil, rice/red/apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, sesame oil, wasabi paste (or mustard) is used.
You can even marinade your tuna with this traditional sauce ahead of time for an hour, but no more.
What traditional sauce? Start with a Hawaiian-inspired one, and borrow from the favorite teriyaki chicken dish.
Of course, there are many different kinds of rubs and crusts you can experiment with for tuna steaks.
Sesame seeds work great because at the high heat you’ll use for searing, they release a flavorful oil.
It goes without saying that many of the selections above could indeed work as appetizers.
Clean and crisp or sweet or saucy can all whet your appetite for some succulent seared ahi tuna.
Since tuna is not as heavy as a beef steak, you can get away with some heartier introductions to your lunch or dinner.
But if you want a well-rounded, healthy meal, then fresh veggies are a wonderful pre-meal snack to have while you wait for the main course.
Of course you don’t have to wait that long when cooking fish meat, so you may not have much time to get your your tuna steak appetizers down!
Tuna steaks are served at all kinds of eating establishments, from woodfired grills and beach side food trucks to fine dining restaurants and Mexican eateries.
So when it comes to drinks, pretty much anything goes.
Bear and wine work equally well.
Since a tuna steak is a meaty fish that you will most likely char, good wine partners will include most reds -- Pinot Noir is a first choice for many.
A Note on Cooking Tuna Steaks
Naturally, nothing that goes well with tuna steaks is going to succeed if you don’t make the star of the show shine in the first place.
You may be experienced at cooking tuna steak, but just in case, here are a few valuable trips when it comes to planning and serving this one-of-kind feast.
Picking the Best Tuna Fish
First, always start with sushi grade ahi tuna. This is the best kind of tuna to use when making seared tuna steaks for both it’s scrumptious taste and for safety.
You’re essentially eating raw fish if you opt not to cook your meat through, so this is important…and worth the extra price if you do go raw.
If the highest grade isn’t available of course, at least freeze the tuna loin you get for 24 hours to kill off any parasites that may be present in the meat.
Fresh yellow fin tuna is the type most used for tuna steaks. It doesn’t look or taste like the tuna you get in a can. It’s deep red in color with a sweet and mild flavor.
It qualifies as a steak in part because of it’s firm and dense texture not unlike a steak from a cow. Fresh yellowfin tuna is typically sold in loin form.
Also, the fresher the meat the better obviously.
Make sure you buy a tuna block that has the most red and is absent of any fishy smell.
When you buy your tuna, ask for larger cuts of loin.
Keep in mind, they may not be in the display case up front but in the back still uncut.
Don’t worry, the fishmonger won’t give you any trouble. They’ll be impressed that you know what you’re doing with this stuff.
Ice Is Your Friend for Fresh Storage
When you get your fresh tuna home and have to store it at all, be sure to do so on ice while in the fridge. You don’t want it losing moisture as sits around. The ice helps this.
Be sure to change the ice out frequently so any that melts doesn’t come into direct contact with the fish. You can keep it chilled this way in the ol’ ice box for up to three days.
A Time to Cut and Not to Cut
It’s worth mentioning too to not make your tuna steak cuts until right before you’re ready to take them to the heat. Keep that tuna loin all intact.
When you’re ready to cut, do so with as few strokes as possible with a good knife to avoid damaging the fibers in the meat and avoid ‘tearing”. Clean slices are the goal.
Use High Heat for Best Results
Use high heat for searing or grilling. Extreme temperatures at the surface of your tuna are what create the real magic. Charcoal is best for outdoors on the grill since it burns the hottest of anything.
Remember to lightly coat the cooking grate with canola oil.
Timing Is Almost Everything
Sear each side for the same amount of time. Time it if you want to ensure even cooking all sides of your steak.
Don’t lift up to check the progress too soon if you’re using a traditional sesame seed crust. Wait at least 30 seconds before inspecting so the seeds stick and don’t fall off.
Total cooking time for typical tuna steak is only about two minutes so be sure to never walk away from the scene of a searing tuna steak.
Once you remove it, let it rest for a few minutes. Keep your steaks covered during this time to avoid any moisture loss.
If cutting, no quick back and forth slicing. Use long, patient strokes with a sharp knife just like you did to cut the steak chunks from the tuna loin.
Make slices thin when eating rare, and only cut what you’re going to eat for that meal. If saving, store as much in a bulk state as you can so avoid air contact and further moisture loss.
Did you know?
Tuna is really the only safe fish to eat raw. This includes bluefin toro, yellow fin tuna, big eye, skipjack, or albacore (tomba ahi) varieties.
In fact, tuna is one of the oldest meats used in sushi.
You can keep the insides of your tuna steak from cooking by taking super cold fillets directly from the fridge on ice to the pan or grill.
You can even place in the freezer for several minutes prior to browning. This helps slow the inside from cooking and give you more time to really blacken the outside if desired.
As tuna cooks, it turns from pink or red to tan or ivory white. Make sure you stick to red on the interior for the best tasting experience. We understand if you prefer to cook the whole thing through.
And when it comes to what to serve with tuna steaks at large, just try a combination or two above. You may already have a preference or you might just discover something new that you really love.
Ah, food done well is such a good thing, isn’t it?