Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Homemade Ponzu Sauce

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Mr. SGCC and I went to a fancy cocktail party several weeks ago. It was the kind of party where everybody spoke in hushed tones, hors d’oeuvres were passed on silver trays and champagne was poured into real crystal flutes. The kind of party where you feel obligated to squeeze your feet into high heels and risk killing, or at least maiming yourself.


The buffet table was just lovely though, laden with platters of impeccably displayed, mouthwatering morsels and mile-high vases of lush, fresh flowers. At one end of the tables, a guy wearing a crisp, starched, white jacket stood over a smoking hot wok. He was searing gorgeous slabs of tuna encrusted with black and white sesame seeds. and was doing an excellent job of it too. That tuna was perfectly cooked – golden and crunchy on the outside and cool and smooth on the inside. It literally melted in your mouth! I remember thinking at the time that I simply had to try to recreate this dish at home.

The next morning, I was sipping my coffee and scanning through my reader, when lo and behold, I saw a recipe on Steamy Kitchen for the exact. same. tuna. What luck! I’ve made no secret of the fact on this blog that I think Jaden’s recipes are terrific. And, I’m lucky enough to live in the same city, so if I have any questions, I don’t even have to call long distance. I bookmarked the recipe and hurried down to Whole Foods to find some beautiful, fresh, sushi-quality tuna steaks.

yellow tuna steak

Just look at these beauties!

I followed Jaden’s recipe pretty much as written. She says to coat the tuna with a thin layer of wasabi paste before coating it with the black and white sesame seeds. I was a little leery of this, but I did it anyway. She promised it wouldn’t kill me. Then, I seared it, sliced it and served it with some zingy, citrusy, homemade Ponzu Sauce.


Ponzu Sauce is a citrus-based sauce that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is made by boiling mirin, rice vinegar, bonito flakes, and seaweed over medium heat. The liquid is cooled and then strained, after which citrus juice is added. In Japan, Ponzu is made with a citrus fruit called yuzu which can be difficult to find in here in the States. Fortunately, a very close facsimile can be made using other citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges, which is what I did here. My version also includes soy sauce, technically making it a Ponzu Shoyu. I also left out the seaweed, because I didn’t have any and didn’t feel like going to the store again.

You can buy bottled Ponzu Sauce in the ethnic foods aisle at most supermarkets, but don’t. It is so incredibly easy to make yourself, and the flavor just doesn’t compare with the bottled stuff!


I have to tell you, my Sesame-Crusted Tuna was just as good, if not better than the one I ate at that cocktail party. That tuna was like buttah! And the wasabi schmear that I rubbed all over it really did mellow out and give a nice, gentle bite to the tuna, just like Jaden said it would.

I’m going to send you over to Steamy Kitchen for the tuna recipe. She gives a detailed, step-by-step presentation there. But, definitely come back here for the Ponzu Sauze. It will really make your tastebuds sing!

Ponzu Sauce
(Printable Recipe)


¾ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
½ cup rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup bonito flakes
1 tbsp fresh lime zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp fresh lime juice


Combine the mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, lime zest and bonito flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Remove from the heat and let cool.

Pour the sauce through a strainer into a bowl and discard the solids.

Mix in the citrus juices.

Can be stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


From the Archives

Misoyaki Salmon

Smoky Seared Sea Scallops

Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Pineapple-Apricot Dipping Sauce

Seen around the Blogs

Seared Tuna with Avocado from Simply Recipes

Seared Spiced Tuna with Zucchini from La Tartine Gourmande

Prosciutto Wrapped Grilled Tuna with Wasabi Butter from Chili Cheese Fries

Tuna Nicoise-ish from The Perfect Pantry

Tuna Poke from No Recipes

38 responses to Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Homemade Ponzu Sauce

  1. On June 10, 2009 at 7:28pm, Patsyk said...

    What a stunning dish! Looks like you can have this amazing dish anytime the craving hits you… who needs a stuffy dinner party now!

  2. On June 10, 2009 at 7:46pm, Susan from Food Blogga said...

    I would talk about how gorgeous that tuna is, but I'm too distracted by the image of you maiming yourself with the high heels. LOL.

  3. On June 10, 2009 at 7:58pm, Jen Yu said...

    Be careful with those high heels, hon! :) I think you totally rocked this one. That looks so amazingly good. Jaden would be proud! And I am nuts about ponzu sauce. Before I knew what it was (and how to make it) I used to run my finger through the little ponzu puddle on my sushi plates and lick the ponzu. mmmmmmm :) Love that stuff.

  4. On June 10, 2009 at 9:42pm, MaryBeth said...

    Simply wonderful looking presentation…

  5. On June 10, 2009 at 9:58pm, Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

    Fantastic! That tuna is cooked to perfection!



  6. On June 11, 2009 at 1:56am, Nina Timm said...

    Oh wow, Susan SGCC is moving up in this world. I always come here for my sweet fix, but this is so amazing!!!

  7. On June 11, 2009 at 3:58am, Manggy said...

    Oh man, now I wish I could find myself a reputable sushi grade fish dealer! My throat can tell if it's not (itcheee!), which makes me envy those who really enjoy sashimi, sigh. And I've had to endure horrible overcooked tuna steaks as a result, too. I'd love to give the ponzu a try, though! :)

  8. On June 11, 2009 at 5:53am, Jen of A2eatwrite said...

    This looks so delicious! And what beautiful photos, too.

    I will definitely be over to Steamy Kitchen to check this out.

  9. On June 11, 2009 at 7:22am, Cathy said...

    It's so hard to find sushi-grade tuna here (unless you want to pay ridiculous amounts of money)….but your pics look so good I'm going to have to go get some asap.

  10. On June 11, 2009 at 8:06am, 5 Star Foodie said...

    Gorgeous tuna and the ponzu sauce sounds excellent!

  11. On June 11, 2009 at 8:22am, Chez US said...

    Susan, you just took tuna to another level and made it WOW! Beautiful!

    The recipe sounds great as well 😉 – I just can't stop drooling over the photos!

  12. On June 11, 2009 at 8:29am, RecipeGirl said...

    You're the best Susan, I just love your post. Since I've met you, I can easily imagine you at this cocktail party :)

    Your tuna looks mouthwatering- it's my husband's favorite. I'm always afraid to eat it rare though!! Ponzu sauce is a nice addition.

  13. On June 11, 2009 at 8:37am, Jeff said...

    That tuna is freaking beautiful looking and making me really jealous that I can't find it around here reasonably priced.

    I also have been looking for a good ponzu sauce for chicken so yeah!!!

    Nicely done!

  14. On June 11, 2009 at 9:49am, The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

    What beautiful photos. I don't even eat fish and I think this looks delicious.

    Be careful in those high heels now, Accident Prawn. 😉

  15. On June 11, 2009 at 11:32am, The Duo Dishes said...

    Homemade ponzu…that's awesome. Great, light meal.

  16. On June 11, 2009 at 6:11pm, Gera @ SweetsFoods said...

    Oh my goodness! That tuna with sesame looks brilliant really in savor and in the photo too!!

    Drooling here! Pass me a fork please 😀



  17. On June 11, 2009 at 6:55pm, Kalyn said...

    Sounds wonderful, and great photos. I especially like the first picture, just drooling here.

  18. On June 11, 2009 at 11:20pm, J.Danger said...

    Oh my god- this looks soooooooo delicious!

  19. On June 12, 2009 at 10:42am, Simply...Gluten-free said...

    I bet you livened up that cocktail party! Your pix are just AMAZING!!!! So beautiful.

  20. On June 12, 2009 at 10:56am, LilSis said...

    What great looking tuna! We've been eating a lot of seared tuna and tuna Tartare lately. Yours looks amazing. Thanks for the sauce recipe. I'm going to try that next time. I usually just squirt mine with some lemon juice, but this sounds great.

  21. On June 12, 2009 at 11:13am, Justin said...

    this looks really great. i tried cooking with ponzu a couple of times, but without much luck. of course, I wasn't working with real recipes, just winging it. It's strong stuff, so that was probably a mistake.

  22. On June 12, 2009 at 2:17pm, Hillary said...

    I think I just found a new way to my heart. This couldn't be more gorgeous – I love tuna because of recipes like these!

  23. On June 12, 2009 at 2:54pm, Kristen said...

    Susan, perfection! That tuna is cooked perfectly, it is heresy to overcook sushi grade tuna.

    I am going to try your ponzu, the ones in the market vary greatly and are usually poor, Eden Foods makes a decent one but it is difficult to find.

  24. On June 12, 2009 at 4:42pm, Bren said...

    nice job on the tuna! i love sesame crusted sushi grade tuna. great with the ponzu, too!

  25. On June 12, 2009 at 7:23pm, CookiePie said...

    Gorgeous photo, and what a delicious dish!!! This is the best way to eat tuna. YUM!

  26. On June 12, 2009 at 8:18pm, Helene said...

    What a nice tuna dish. I'm always afraid to cut tuna as I don't know when to stop the cooking.

  27. On June 13, 2009 at 2:40am, pigpigscorner said...

    The tuna looks perfectly cooked! Wonderful presentation.

  28. On June 13, 2009 at 6:05am, squawmama said...

    Oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE tuna…. this looks so incredibly yummy I will be trying it very soon…. Thanks once again for a GREAT recipe.


  29. On June 14, 2009 at 7:36am, cookies and cups said...

    This looks so good! My husband will love this!

  30. On June 14, 2009 at 3:21pm, Wandering Chopsticks said...

    Oh! Oh! I love ponzu and had never even thought of making my own. I just assumed it was the juice of the yuzu, not that there were all these other ingredients involved.

  31. On June 15, 2009 at 8:35am, Janet @Gourmet Traveller88 said...

    I love these tuna, awesome!

  32. On June 15, 2009 at 8:34pm, Tangled Noodle said...

    This seared tuna is about as perfect as I've ever seen! You did an outstanding job with it and I am sure that it was much, much better than the one at the fancy cocktail party. I am so craving sushi right now . . .

  33. On June 16, 2009 at 7:31pm, Karine said...

    What a great way to eat tuna!

  34. On June 17, 2009 at 8:43am, Kat said...

    this seems lovely and you're tuna looks to die for, I can never get tuna like that here :(

  35. On June 19, 2009 at 6:16am, Jamie said...

    See? There are some advantages to squeezing into high heels once in a while! You got a great idea for a fabulous dish. This looks amazing! This is so my kind of food.

  36. On June 24, 2009 at 11:49am, Peter M said...

    Your own Ponzu? Seared tuna to perfection? Sesame seeds? I can't find fault in any of this dish.

  37. On July 07, 2009 at 12:31am, Dazy said...

    This recipe is really going to keep me busy in the kitchen with all its glamor. This is another must for the weekend! My kids would just hug me for this.

  38. On July 30, 2013 at 8:01am, selling kitchens online said...

    Great post. I am facing many of these issues as well.

1 pings to Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Homemade Ponzu Sauce

  1. On April 26, 2010 at 10:08pm, Chilled Soba with Baby Bok Choy, Snow Peas, Spinach and Tofu « the taste space – steam, bake, boil, shake! pinged...

    […] from other citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, etc).  There are recipes to make your own ponzu sauce as well but I buy mine from the […]

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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