Garlic, ginger, a sweet brine, and a delicate smoky flavor make this the best smoked tuna recipe you will ever have. From being easy to make to a super healthy meal, smoking tuna is going to be a regular part of your cooking repertoire.
Tuna is a delicious, healthy, and versatile fish that is perfect for creating flavorful smoked dishes. This smoked tuna recipe blends together classic flavors with a modern twist to make a delicious meal. Whether you are smoking fresh tuna or using thawed frozen tuna, the results will be sure to please your tastebuds. With just a few simple ingredients and only minimal effort required in the process, creating this easy dish can be done quickly and easily.
If you love seafood make sure to also try our Smoked Swordfish.
A simple brine for the tuna
2 cups of water, ¼ cup of white sugar, ¼ cup of salt. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Place the tuna steaks in a shallow pan. Pour the brine mixture over the tuna steaks. Seal with an airtight cover and place in the refrigerator for up to two hours. You really don't need to brine tuna for that long.
You can also choose to go with a dry brine if you like. There are directions here in my smoked salmon post that will walk you through a dry brine using brown sugar, white sugar, and kosher salt.
How to Smoke Tuna
Once the fish has brined for at least an hour, remove the steaks from the tuna brine. Rinse the tuna under cold water then pat dry with paper towels. Once the tuna is dry, we can season it with a simple rub.
Ingredients for Smoked Tuna Recipe
There are only a few simple ingredients you need for these smoked tuna steaks.
Tuna - I used yellowfin tuna for my recipe. Each steak portion was about six ounces. Yellowfin tuna is slightly less fatty than bluefin tuna. Because of that, it is low in calories and high in protein. It is a great healthy option for any time of the year.
Seasoning - If you followed the instructions here and brined your tuna, do not add salt to the seasoning. You don't want to over-salt your fish steaks. I use a simple recipe for a dry rub.
Dry rub recipe for tuna steaks: 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat the Smoker
Take the dry tuna and liberally coat the outside with the dry rub to thoroughly season it. Once the tuna is seasoned, place it in a preheated smoker. Smoke the tuna for about an hour at 225°F or until the internal temperature reaches 125°F. The key here is the internal temperature not the time in the smoker. You don't want overcooked tuna. It is very important to use a meat thermometer probe to closely monitor the internal temp. We are less worried about the smoking time and more about the internal temperature.
What is the best wood to use when smoking tuna? I used cherry wood pellets in my Traeger Grill, you can easily use cherry wood chips or whatever your favorite blend of wood is.
Expert Tip: Keep on eye on the Internal Temperature. Once the tuna reaches an internal temperature of 125°F, remove it from the smoker and serve.
Marinade - Try marinating the fish in a combination of soy sauce, olive oil, and lime juice for an Asian vibe. Add a bit of crushed red pepper or dash of hot sauce for some heat.
Seasoning - You can add liquid smoke to enhance the smoky flavor or Worcestershire sauce for an umami flavor.
What if I don't have a smoker or a pellet grill?
The key to a good smoking process is an indirect heat source. You can use a gas grill, just turn on one burner and set a small fire box with lit wood chips into the grill with the tune. You will want to closely watch the temperature again to protect from drying out the tuna.
If you want to forgo the smoke flavor, you can also just make grilled yellowfin tuna steaks with this same brine and rub. A nice hot sear will give you a great dish, you'll just miss out on the wood smokey flavor.
What sides should I serve with Smoked Yellowfin tuna steaks recipe?
You can also serve it on top of a leafy green salad.
You can also serve thin slices of this smoked tuna recipe with bagels and cream cheese the way lox is served.
Why do we brine fish?
There are two reasons to brine fish. Flavor and moisture. First, soaking the fish in a brine adds flavor to the fish. It helps to season it thoroughly. Secondly, the brine helps to improve the moisture of the fish. This makes it easier to keep a moist fish when cooking. The last thing you want is a dry piece of fish.
Can I smoke other types of seafood?
Absolutely. Smoked seafood of just about any type is delicious.
What can I do with leftovers?
Make sure to keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and use them within 3-4 days.
Make the ball into a delicious smoked tuna dip recipe by spreading in a pie plate and serving with crackers.
- 12 oz yellowfin tuna two 6 oz steaks
- 2 Cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Combine brining ingredients in a large bowl and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Place tuna into an airtight container and pour the brining liquid over the tuna. Cover and place in refrigerator for an hour.
- Remove tuna from the brine and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Combine dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and then liberally sprinkle rub on all sides of the tuna steaks.
- Place tuna steaks directly onto the grill grate of a preheated smoker. Smoke the tuna steaks at 225°F until the internal temperature reaches 125°F. This will approximately be 40 to 60 minutes.
- Once the tuna's internal temp reaches 125°F, remove them from the smoker and serve.