Perfectly grilled tuna steaks should combine a hot, smoky, charred exterior with a cool, rare centre. For a home cook, this ideal can be an elusive goal.
For grilled tuna steaks with an intense smoky char and a tender interior, we started with a hot grill. We moistened the tuna steaks’ flesh with a vinaigrette to promote browning and allow the oil to penetrate the meat of the tuna steaks. And instead of using sugar in our vinaigrette, we used honey.
Both promote browning, but honey does it faster, which was important with the quick cooking times for tuna on the grill. It’s easy to add complementary flavours to this dish by mixing up the seasoning in the vinaigrette.
GRILLED TUNA STEAKS WITH VINAIGRETTE
Start to finish: 25 minutes
We prefer our tuna served rare or medium-rare. If you like your tuna cooked medium, observe the timing for medium-rare, then tent the steaks with foil for 5 minutes before serving.
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
6 (8-ounce) tuna steaks, 1 inch thick
‚Äî For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
‚Äî For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, thyme, mustard, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pinch pepper together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture until lightly thickened and emulsified. Measure out 3/4 cup vinaigrette and set aside for cooking tuna. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for serving.
Clean cooking grate, then repeatedly brush grate with well-oiled paper towels until grate is black and glossy, 5 to 10 times.
Pat tuna dry with paper towels. Generously brush both sides of tuna with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Place tuna on grill (on hotter side if using charcoal) and cook (covered if using gas) until grill marks form and bottom surface is opaque, 1 to 3 minutes.
Flip tuna and cook until opaque at perimeter and translucent red at centre when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 110 F (for rare), about 1 1/2 minutes, or until opaque at perimeter and reddish pink at centre when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 F (for medium-rare), about 3 minutes. Serve, passing reserved vinaigrette.