Seared Tuna with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Seared Tuna with Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

Albacore caught via “pole and troll” in the north Pacific Ocean is currently certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. Albacore has a tendency to dry out if overcooked, so watch it carefully. Grapeseed oil is recommended in this recipe because it has a high smoking point and a neutral taste. Chinese black vinegar, sometimes labeled as Chinkiang vinegar, is an essential ingredient in this dish. Steamed rice and sautéed greens go well with it as accompaniments.–Andrew Weil

LC Not Your Typical Sweet And Sour Sauce Note

Let’s be very clear about one thing. Though this recipe shares the name of a sauce that’s ubiquitous on Chinese 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.]

Seared Tuna with Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4


  • For the sweet and sour sauce
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, mashed
  • For the tuna
  • Four 5- to 6-ounce pieces tuna loin, preferably albacore
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons grapeseed oil


  • Make the sweet and sour sauce
  • 1. Whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Sear the tuna
  • 2. Remove the tuna from the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before you intend to cook and let it rest at room temperature.
  • 3. Using your hands, press the salt and pepper on all sides of the fish.
  • 4. 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. (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.
  • 5. 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.
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