Blackened Ahi Tuna with Mango Pico de Gallo

May 22, 2023
picure of a ahi tuna steak raw with seasoning all over it
close up shot of a plate with cooked ahi tuna steak, with a heaping pile of mango pico de gallo on top. A rounded pile of rice and side salad are also on the plate.

The Perfect Lunch: Blackened Ahi Tuna

Blackened ahi tuna is quick and easy. But why ahi tuna? It’s versatile, trendy, and perhaps overused. But damn, it’s delicious.

Lunch today will be a blackened ahi tuna steak served with sticky rice and a salad. Ahi tuna is actually Yellowfin and found in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world. Lucky for us, it can travel all the way to New Jersey and around the world for our dining pleasure.

Where to get Ahi Tuna Steaks

Where you get seafood is important. Do NOT buy your seafood at your local grocery store (unless it’s your only option), unless your local grocery store is a bougee ass Whole Foods. Even then, support your small local fish markets. We go to Keyport Fishery in Keyport, NJ or Wooley’s Fish Market in Freehold, NJ

Make sure your knives are sharp: Mango Pico Time

Start with your tomatoes. Cut each one in half and then subsequently slice into half moons. Cut the guts out of each slice and then dice. You want little bite sized cubes. You’ve all eaten pico de gallo before, right? Just picture that.

Take your half onion and peel away the skin. Lay it flat side down and hold your knife horizontal, slicing through the middle of the onion. Don’t slice all the way through, get about 85% there. You may need to do more than one of these cuts depending on how big your onion is. You can use a regular yellow or white onion here if you so choose, but red onion is queen for me.

After slicing through the middle, turn your knife back to vertical and make even slices through your onion. Then chop as you normally would. Your result should be nicely even pieces of onion. You’re also probably crying by this point. I like to wear sunglasses when I cut onions as I am especially susceptible to the sting of the onion’s breath. The sunglasses are functional and also make me look cool when I cook.

Next is the jalapeno. Cut off the stem and slice it in half. Use a spoon to scoop out those guts. Cut each half into matchstick size and then dice into even cubes. Make sure you wash your hands when you’re done because touching your face, or any other sensitive parts of your body, with the hidden fire oils of a hot pepper is no fun. Trust me.

Cut up your mango next. My favorite fruit to eat, but least favorite to cut. This is primarily due to the fact that it has a large and unruly pit in its center. I like to cut the sides off and around the pit. You may need to make a couple of discovery cuts to avoid the pit. It happens to us all of the time. Cut each side into thinner pieces and place skin side down on the cutting board. Position your knife right in between the flesh and the skin of the mango and gently slide it through to separate the flesh and skin. If you’re finding this tough to do, your mango probably isn’t ripe.

Take about half of your bunch of cilantro and cut off most of the stems, but leave about an inch and a half. Unlike its physical doppelganger, parsley, the stems of cilantro are packed with flavor. Chop them all up a little more than rough. I can already hear the Anti-Cilantro Corps complaining about the taste. Sorry that you have whatever weird gene that is where cilantro tastes like soap. Don’t rain on my parade, soap boy.

Don’t forget about the good flesh surrounding that pit. I just eat that right off the pit. This is obviously not for your salsa.

Combine your tomatoes, onion, mango, jalapeno, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Give your lime a nice roll on the cutting board to loosen up those juices, cut in half, and juice into the bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste and mix it up.

Blackening your ahi tuna steak

Now, blackening is a technique commonly seen in Cajun cooking and Ahi tuna has appeared in just about every type of dish in creation recently. I feel like you don’t see blackened ahi tuna very often, so here we are.

Start by liberally covering your tuna steak in your blackening seasoning. The level of flavor you get will be determined by this step. Cover every square inch. Let no seasoning go to waste.

Get out your pan (we love this one from Lodge), I prefer cast iron for this, and get it searing hot. You can do this by putting your burner on medium high heat. Add some vegetable oil (or light oil of your choosing) to layer the pan once it’s hot and place your tuna steaks in. If you don’t immediately hear that sizzle, your pan is not hot enough.

Cook for about three minutes on each side. You want the inside to be nice and rare, but the outsides seared with all of that blackened flavor.

Get your veggies in!

mixed green salad on white background

While the tuna is cooking, make your salad. Combine the rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, olive oil, white vinegar, lime juice, and ginger powder in a bowl and vigorously whisk together. Sometimes I prefer to put all of these ingredients into a small mason jar and shake to really get them combined. Pour over your mixed greens and toss.

By now your tuna should be done. Remove from heat and let it rest for a couple minutes.

Ingredients and Substitutions

cutting board with whole roma tomatoes, 1 jalapeno, 1 lime, salt in a bowl, pepper in a bowl, an ahi tuna steak on a plate, 1 mango, 1 bunch of cilantro, and a wood mortar and pastel on top.

FAQ

What does blackened ahi tuna taste like?

Ahi tuna is a very mild fish. This means if you are adverse to overly “fishy” fish than you should be enjoy an ahi tuna steak.

Is blackened tuna cooked?

Sort of? You can cook the tuna longer to ensure doneness, but we prefer ours almost raw and warm in the center.

Can I substitute another fish?

Yes, we would suggest tilapia or mahi mahi as a substitute. Please keep in mind cook times with change if you change your fish.

Difference between Pico de Gallo and Salsa?

Pico is a diced combination of different vegetables where a salsa is more of a puree.

How do I pick a ripe mango?

When you are at the grocery store squeeze the mango. It should give in slightly when pressure is put on it.

close up shot of a plate with cooked ahi tuna steak, with a heaping pile of mango pico de gallo on top. A rounded pile of rice and side salad are also on the plate.
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close up shot of a plate with cooked ahi tuna steak, with a heaping pile of mango pico de gallo on top. A rounded pile of rice and side salad are also on the plate.

Blackened Ahi Tuna Steak with Mango Salsa


  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x

Description

Ahi Tuna smothered in delicious spices and seared in a cast iron. Paired with some Jasmine rice, a simple side salad, and a vibrate fruity pico de gallo this recipes is sure to be a crowd pleaser.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Meal

  • 2 Ahi Tuna Steaks
  • 2 cups Jasmine Rice, cooked
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Mixed Greens
  • 5 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 large Red Onion, diced
  • 1 large jalapeno, diced
  • 1 medium ripe Mango, diced
  • 1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large lime, juiced

Blackening Seasoning

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 heaping tsp smoke paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Salad Dressing

  • 4 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 lime, juiced

Instructions

  1. Add ingredients for the blackening seasoning into a mortar and pestal and combine. You do not need to do this but it helps to make the taste and texture more uniform.
  2. Place a cast iron pan over medium heat on the stove.
  3. While your pan is heating up, pat your ahi tuna dry and cover liberally in blackening seasoning.
  4. Add vegetable oil to your cast iron pan and place your tuna steak gently into the pan. You should hear the tuna immediately begin to sizzle. If you do not quickly remove your tuna and wait about 5 more minutes. Cook until the bottom has a brown crust on it (about 3 mins). Flip and cook for another 3 mins and then remove the tuna from the cast iron pan.
  5. Now it is time to make your pico de gallo. Combine diced tomato, red onion, mango, jalapeno, and cilantro in a bowl with the juice of 1 lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Combine ingredients for the salad dressing in a mason jar and shake vigorously.
  7. Add 1 cup of rice to a plate, place your ahi tuna steak on top of the rice, and then top with mango pico de gallo. Dress your mixed greens and enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: fish, mango, salsa

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We’re Matt and Melissa, and this is our food blog, though it may not be the food blog you are expecting. We are here to take you on a culinary adventure through our kitchen, our passions, our stories, and our liquor cabinet. Residing in Monmouth County, NJ (the best county in NJ) we love to cook and create in our kitchen. But we know we’re not the real experts and the only thing more fun than tasting our own creations are tasting others’. When we’re not cooking for you, we’re around town sampling all that New Jersey’s culinary scene has to offer. Let take A Couple Bites!

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