Seared Tuna with Sweet and Sour Sauce

This seared tuna with sweet and sour sauce is a quick and easy and healthy weeknight recipe from Dr. Andrew Weil made with tuna drizzled with a soy, sugar, and black vinegar sauce.

A white plate with four slices of seared tuna with sweet and sour sauce, rice, and cooked greens.

Let’s be very clear about one thing. Though this recipe shares the name of a sauce that’s ubiquitous on menus—and oft insipid, gloppy, cloying, and all manner of other undesirable traits—it couldn’t be more different than all that. This sweet and sour sauce is, quite simply, sweet and sour and lovely. Nothing else. It draws on the flavors of just four ingredients—soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and Chinese black vinegar, which is well worth tracking down for use in this recipe alone. [Editor’s Note: Many, many thanks to the kind and gracious older gentleman in New York City’s Chinatown who, when he saw us looking at the various labels on different brands of black vinegar to suss out which were the real deal and which were just caramel coloring and sugar, pointed us to the perfect bottle. Thank you, my dear man.]–Renee Schettler

Seared Tuna with Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4
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  • For the sweet and sour sauce
  • For the tuna


Make the sweet and sour sauce

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Cook the tuna

Remove the tuna from the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before you intend to cook and let it rest at room temperature.

Press the salt and pepper onto all sides of the fish.

In a large, preferably nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Place the tuna in the hot oil, 2 pieces at a time. Sear on each side to the desired doneness, 1 to 2 minutes per side for rare or more to your desired doneness. (Tuna is arguably best when rare in the middle.) Transfer the cooked tuna to a platter. Cook the remaining 2 pieces, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.

Slice the tuna into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces and transfer to individual plates. Strain the sweet and sour sauce if desired or whisk to recombine. Dribble the sauce over or around the tuna. Originally published September 10, 2013.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

A good piece of tuna rarely needs much in the way of improvement but this little sauce does just that. Don’t be lulled into thinking this is your typical sweet and sour sauce, as this is so much more. Why aren’t the horrible sweet and sour sauces in Chinese restaurants like this, when it's so easy?

The Chinese black vinegar is certainly worth the small price. I only used 2 tablespoons sugar (rather than 4), and I found the sauce amply sweet. I then proceeded to ladle it on everything on my plate: the tuna, the steamed rice, and the sautéed veggies, all with glowing results.

Certainly this is my new fave sauce!

A very simple and elegant meal. The tuna was just delicious with the great flavors of the dipping sauce.

I divided the sauce between a couple bowls and kept one warm in the warming drawer and the other at room temperature. I definitely preferred the warm sauce as it did not further cool the tuna and I could eat a warm meal. The key in the sauce is to really mash the garlic into a pulp so it blends well with the liquid, making it very tasty. I served it with sautéed baby bok choy.


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  1. I have an old flat cast iron griddle I use on the gas grill for blackening seafood. Works great for searing fish or steaks. So well seasoned that little sticks. Just a quick spray with the commercial nonstick I get from the restaurant supply (like PAM, but unflavored).

    Be sure to work the garlic down into a paste. Mixes better and doesn’t leave bigger chunks to strain out. Also, lightly warm the sauce. That way it doesn’t cool down the tuna.

    I had some fresh tuna from the local market I was going to blacken. Then saw this. Glad I did. Although I may add a little ginger next time.

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