Seared Ahi with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Seared Ahi with Spicy Dipping Sauce
Seared Ahi with Spicy Dipping Sauce

One of our favorite things to order when we go out for sushi is pepper-crusted seared ahi tuna. Typically we find that this is paired with a delicious ponzu sauce or other similar dipping sauces that perfectly pair with the seared ahi. With our love for this dish, we decided to create our own version to have at home! And we must say, our Seared Ahi with Spicy Dipping Sauce is absolutely delicious. The sauce is also great with dumplings and drizzled over rice, as well!

What is in the Spicy Dipping Sauce?

This spicy dipping sauce is citrus-forward and is made with lemon and lime juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, black pepper, cilantro, a jalapeño and red onions. Although this was initially inspired by the Ponzu sauces we had at our favorite Japanese restaurants, this is by no means meant to be a Ponzu or anything authentic. So if you are looking for a traditional sauce, you can find one HERE.

This Spicy Dipping Sauce needs to be made at least an hour before you plan to make the rest of the meal in order for it to fully develop its flavors. Once it is ready, the sauce packs a punch of flavor that will brighten up anything you eat with it, but pairs beautifully with the pepper-crusted seared ahi tuna we have here.

Spicy Dipping Sauce Ingredients
Several ingredients are combined to make this sauce a flavor bomb!

Where can I find sushi/sashimi grade tuna?

This may be the biggest challenge for making this dish, but many Asian markets will carry sushi or sashimi grade fish. “Sashimi” or “sushi grade” means that the seller has determined that it is generally safe to eat raw based on the way it has been processed and handled. There is no actual federal grading agency that determines this, so proceed with caution and buy your fish from a trusted source.

Here in Houston, we find the type we buy, Hawaiian Select Ahi Steaks, frozen at Central Market. There are also some online sources for buying sashimi grade fish out there, but we have not tried any and can’t specifically recommend a particular one. If you are unable to locate this type of tuna, you can indeed buy a regular tuna steak, but you will need to cook the tuna longer to insure that you kill any bacteria that may be on the fish. Like consuming anything raw, take the appropriate precautions and research foods before buying and eating.


We hope you enjoy this recipe for Seared Ahi and Spicy Dipping Sauce! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Check out some of our other popular recipes below:

Seared Ahi with Spicy Dipping Sauce

5 from 3 votes
Recipe by Angela and Mark Course: MainCuisine: Asian-FusionDifficulty: Easy


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Cooking time


Total time






  • Spicy Dipping Sauce
  • 4 oz 4 lime juice (approx 2-3 limes strained)

  • 3 oz 3 soy sauce

  • 2 oz 2 rice wine vinegar

  • ½ oz lemon juice (approx 1 small lemon strained)

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • ⅓ cup cilantro chopped

  • 1 medium jalapeño (or serrano if you like spicy), seeded and diced fine

  • ⅓ medium red onion, diced fine

  • Pepper Crusted Ahi
  • 1 10-12oz sushi-grade tuna steak

  • 2-3 TBSP course crushed black peppercorns

  • 1 tsp 1 salt

  • Canola, grapeseed or olive oil


  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and put in refrigerator for 1 (or up to) 12 hours.
  • Heat a heavy cast iron skillet on the stove at high heat. Generously add pepper to both sides of tuna steak and press into the flesh. Once skillet is smoking hot, add oil to it. Wait 10 seconds and gently put tuna in skillet. Cook for 50-70 seconds per side (depending on how thick the tuna is and how rare you like it). Remove from pan, slice across the grain (which should yield large bite-sized pieces) and serve with the ponzu as a dipping sauce or poured over.

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Join the Conversation

  1. Do you have a link to the frozen tuna you get at Central Market? I’ve got an HEB here and they have would this be the one you’re using?

    1. Angela and Mark Author says:

      Hello! The brand is Hawaiian Select. We have not tried the one you linked. I haven’t seen Hawaiian Select at HEB but I did a quick Google search and I do see some online vendors carrying this brand as well. I hope that helps!

  2. Thank you so much!!

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