Fresh tuna tartare is a unique, easy, and delicious appetizer to enjoy with friends and family. Find some sashimi-grade tuna, and this extra-special dish is easy to put together.
Plus, I'm sharing 3-ways to serve it: as a chirashi-inspired salad with all the best toppings, over rice with avocado, and over fried wontons or chips, my sister's favorite.
The vinaigrette for this recipe was inspired by the tuna tartare vinaigrette from Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook.
Why this recipe works
The taste and texture of sashimi grade tuna is soft and rich, pairing well with more acidic flavors like the lime juice and ginger juice in the vinaigrette. I add a splash of hot sauce to give it some heat, and the flavors round out for the perfect bite of umami.
The dressing is added just before serving so the acid in the vinaigrette doesn't denature (same effect as cooking) the fish.
You can serve this tartare in three different ways depending on your need and mood. I serve it on wontons for parties, as a molded tartare for dinner parties, and as a chirashi-style salad for a meal.
Why this recipe is safe to eat
Tuna tartare is safe to eat raw because it's made with sashimi-grade tuna. Unlike regular tuna, sashimi grade tuna has been treated in a special way to make it safe for raw consumption. This involves freezing the tuna and storing it at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days, which kills any bacteria or parasites.
You can read more about safe raw fish preparation here.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Sashimi-grade tuna - You cannot substitute this with any other kind of tuna. It must be tuna that's been safely prepared for raw consumption.
Ginger - If you can find young ginger, it tends to be juicier and that is helpful in this recipe. However, regular fresh ginger works, too.
Flavorless oil - You can use any flavorless oil like grapeseed or vegetable oil.
Hot sauce - Use whichever is your favorite. I always use Valentina.
White pepper - You should use white pepper, not black, for this recipe. It has a more subtle flavor that does not overpower the raw fish.
If serving a chirashi-style salad, consider some of these toppings:
How to Make this Recipe
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First, you'll make the vinaigrette. Take the squeezed lime juice, ginger juice, garlic clove, and hot sauce and put it in a food processor or blender.
With the motor on the blender running, slowly add the oil. Then, after that has been incorporated, mix in the scallion whites and gently pulse. Season the vinaigrette with salt and white pepper.
Now you need to prepare your tuna. Make sure to do this only just before serving or the acid in the vinaigrette will cook the tuna.
Cube the tuna into ½-3/4-inch cubes, depending on your preference. Use a sharp knife to avoid tears.
Mix the tuna, scallions, and vinaigrette together. Taste-test the mix and season with salt and white pepper to your liking.
3 Ways to Serve Tuna Tartare
My three favorite ways to serve tuna tartare are:
- The classic restaurant appetizer - in a mold over rice with avocado.
- On fried wontons or chips as a party appetizer.
- In a salad or chiriashi-style salad as a meal.
Classic Restaurant Appetizer
First, make your sushi rice according to the instructions on the bag or use the instructions below in the salad or chirashi-style salad section below. Then, using a 3-inch cookie cutter or cake mold, add ½-cup of cooked rice, a layer of thinly sliced avocado, and ¾ cup of the dressed tuna.
Fried Wonton Appetizer
Serve a bowl of tuna tartare next to a bowl of fried wontons chips, or spoon the tartare over fried wonton chips for bite-sized finger-food. I also like to serve this with chips straight out of a bag.
You can use dumpling wrappers, wonton wrappers, egg roll wrappers, or spring roll wrappers. Cut them into any shape you'd like, and fry them in a pot of oil heated to 350F. The oil should be at least 2 inches deep.
Salad or Chirashi-Style Salad
Serve the tuna tartare over a bowl of leaf lettuce or sushi rice with some of these topping favorites:
- Shelled edamame
- Salmon roe
- Seaweed Salad
- Thinly sliced cucumber and carrots
- Cooked greens
To make sushi rice, soak 1.5 cups of sushi rice in a medium-sized pot with 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Then, bring the pot of rice and water to a light boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes, covered, before fluffing with a fork and serving.
Tuna tartare is absolutely safe as long as it has been prepared correctly. Many types of raw fish and meat have bacteria and parasites that need to be destroyed before the food is safe to consume. In order to eat raw fish, the fish is frozen at very low temperatures
Pregnant women are advised not to eat raw or undercooked fish, so this is not an advised recipe.
Reliable places to look for sashimi grade fish include Japanese markets, online stores, and even some grocery stores carry it. Costco offers some great options.
Here in Oregon, I go to the Flying Fish company.
They are similar in that salmon crudo is a preparation of salmon that uses raw, sashimi grade salmon. They are both delicious and well worth trying!
Fish can be cooked in so many flavorful and unique ways – make sure to add these fish recipes to your cooking agenda!
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Tuna Tartare & How to Serve it 3 Ways
Ginger Lime Vinaigrette
- 2 ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 ½ tablespoon ginger juice grate ginger and squeeze the liquid using cheesecloth
- 6 tablespoon flavorless oil like grapeseed, avocado, or vegetable
- ½ tablespoon scallion whites thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 splash hot sauce I use valentina
- 1 lb. fresh sashimi-grade tuna cubed ¼-3/4-inch, depending on your preference*
- ⅓ cup scallion greens very thinly sliced
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- Vinaigrette: Put the lime juice, ginger juice, garlic, and hot sauce in a food processor or blender. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Then pulse in the scallion whites. Season with salt and pepper.
- Tuna: Do this just before serving or the vinaigrette will cook the tuna. Mix the tuna, scallions, vinaigrette, and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
- Wontons: Serve a bowl of tuna tartare next to a bowl of fried wontons chips, or spoon the tartare over fried wonton chips for bite-sized finger-food. I also like to serve this with chips straight out of a bag.You can use dumpling wrappers, wonton wrappers, egg roll wrappers, or spring roll wrappers. Cut them into any shape you'd like, and fry them in a pot of oil heated to 350F. The oil should be at least 2 inches deep.Chirashi-style salad: Serve the tuna tartare over a bowl of leaf lettuce or sushi rice** with some of these topping favorites: shelled edamame, pickles, salmon roe, furikake, seaweed salad, thinly sliced cucumber and carrots, cooked greens, and avocado.Classic restaurant appetizer: First, make your sushi rice**. Then, using a 3-inch cookie cutter or cake mold, add ½-cup of cooked rice, a layer of thinly sliced avocado, and ¾ cup of the dressed tuna.
This post was originally published in July of 2017 but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, FAQs, a video and tips in September of 2022.