Pan-Seared Sesame-Crusted Tuna Steak

Serves 4

3/4 cup sesame seeds  
4 tuna steaks , 8 ounces each and about 1 inch thick 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
Table salt and ground black pepper  


1. Spread sesame seeds in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Pat tuna steaks dry with paper towel; use 1 tablespoon oil to rub both sides of steaks, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Press both sides of each steak in sesame seeds to coat.

 2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke; swirl to coat pan. Add tuna steaks and cook 30 seconds without moving steaks. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue to cook until seeds are golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip tuna steaks; cook, without moving steaks, until golden brown on second side, about 1 1/2 minutes for rare (opaque at perimeters and translucent red and cool at center when checked with tip of paring knife) or 3 minutes for medium-rare (opaque at perimeters and reddish pink at center). To serve, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with sauce or salsa (see related recipes), if desired.

Most members of the test kitchen staff prefer their tuna steaks rare to medium-rare; the cooking times given in the recipe are for steaks cooked to these two degrees of doneness. For tuna steaks cooked medium, observe the timing for medium-rare, then tent the steaks with foil for 5 minutes before slicing. If you prefer tuna steaks cooked so rare that they are still cold in the center, try to purchase steaks that are 1 1/2 inches thick and cook them according to the timing below for rare steaks. Bear in mind, though, that the cooking times below are estimates; check for doneness by nicking the fish with a paring knife. To cook only two steaks, use half as many seeds, reduce the oil to 2 teaspoons on both the fish and in the pan, use a 10-inch nonstick skillet, and follow the same cooking times.