Tuna Tataki Salad with jalapeno soy dressing

What is tataki?  Although I am not a Japanese cuisine aficionado, I do enjoy a good tuna tataki.  Tataki is seared, sliced tuna with a citrus dressing.  This tuna tataki salad with jalapeno soy dressing is inspired by a meal I had at "book club".  This "book club" is more of an eating club where people bring a dish that's inspired by the book.  Needless to say, it's probably the only book club I know that brings a dish of food instead of the book and more time is spent talking about the various dishes than the actual book... my type of book club!

This tuna tataki salad with jalapeno soy dressing is a combination of lettuce greens, thinly sliced cucumbers and onions for crunch, sliced jalapeno peppers for spiciness and avocado for creaminess.  The soy-lime dressing makes this a refreshing salad and the slices of tuna add body and substance.  The spices for the tuna crust is a little different.  Being South African, and a biltong connoiseur, I love coriander and the addition of coriander to the spice blend turns it up several notches, trust me! So, when the weather starts to warm up and tuna goes on sale at your reputable fish market, this salad is a must!

Tips for making tuna tataki salad with jalapeno soy dressing.


Make sure you buy your tuna from a reputable vendor.  Some purveyors sell defrosted tuna steaks which are perfectly fine.  Look for tuna steaks that are either light pink or deep red, but not oxidizing and turning brown.  There may be a strip of darker muscular meat within the steak.  The muscle of the steak should also not be separating as this is an indication that the fish has been on display too long.  The fish should also not smell overpoweringly fishy.  Buy cuts of tuna about one and a half inch (~4 cm) thick to ensure a good sear without cooking the tuna steak through.

Calculate about 1/3 of a pound of tuna per person as the meat is dense so it goes a long way when sliced and accompanied with salad.

Fresh tuna steak

Tuna steak should be red or pink in color. The muscle fibers should be intact.


This tataki salad with jalapeno soy dressing has a substantial amount of greens to make it a legitimate salad.  Lettuce, thinly sliced cucumbers and onions and avocado make up the salad.  I use a mandolin to get the cucumbers and onions thinly sliced.  This ensures that these vegetables are uniform and shaved paper thin. Brown or red onions can be used.  I prefer to use pickling or Persian cucumbers that tend to have more crunch.

Thinly sliced onion and cucumber

Thinly sliced onion and cucumber

Mix the cucumbers and onions in the soy-ginger dressing while preparing the rest of the dish to ensure a  tasty crunch!

Tuna tataki dry rub

Being South African, one of my favorite snacks is biltong.  Unlike beef jerky, the flavor is different and delicious with the addition of coriander seeds.  This tuna tataki dry rub combines black pepper, coriander seeds and salt, all coarse ground. Grind the pepper corns and coriander seeds in an electric chopper or use a pestle and mortar.

Coarse ground spices with hand blender
Seasoned tuna steak

Seasoned tuna steak


Heat a cast iron skillet until hot.  Spray cooking oil to prevent sticking and sear the tuna steak about a minute on all sides. Add a third of the dressing to the tuna.

Seared tuna tataki

Seared tuna tataki with sauce added at the end

Plating tuna tataki salad with jalapeno soy dressing

Allow the tuna to cool while making the salad. Slice the tuna a little less than half an inch (1 cm). Layer the salad with lettuce, pickles, tuna, avocado.  Drizzle with salad dressing from marinated pickles and chili pepper flakes. Enjoy!

tuna tataki closeup
Tuna Tataki Salad with jalapeno soy dressing


Michelle Sam
Seared tuna with a delicious dry rub of coriander, black pepper and salt with a salad of soy, ginger and a hint of jalapeno
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Japanese
Servings 4 servings
Calories 514 kcal


  • 454 g sushi-grade tuna steak
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil.

Dry rub

  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper

Jalapeno Soy Dessing

  • 4 Tbsp superior light soy sauce
  • 80-100 g fresh cilantro 1 bunch per 1x recipe
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 sliced jalapeno
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger depending on taste
  • tsp fresh ground pepper


  • 4 persian cucumbers or equivalent
  • ½ medium brown or red onion
  • 2 romaine lettuce heads
  • 2 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted and sliced


Prepare tuna

  • Wash tuna and dry with paper towels
    Fresh tuna steak

Dry rub

  • Coarse grind the coriander seeds and black pepper.
    1 Tbsp coriander seeds, 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • Add the coarse salt and mix well.
    1 tsp coarse salt
  • Place mixture in a flat container.
  • Place tuna steak in dry rub mixture until well coated.
    454 g sushi-grade tuna steak
    Seasoned tuna steak

Prepare Dressing

  • Finely chop fresh cilantro.
    80-100 g fresh cilantro
  • Combine dressing ingredients into a bowl.
    1 Tbsp black pepper, 4 Tbsp superior light soy sauce, 80-100 g fresh cilantro, ½ cup fresh lime juice, ½ cup olive oil, ½ tsp sugar, 2 cloves fresh minced garlic, 1 sliced jalapeno, 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, ⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper

Prepare pickled vegetables

  • Finely slice onion and cucumbers with a mandoline and place into a bowl.
    4 persian cucumbers, ½ medium brown or red onion
    Thinly sliced onion and cucumber
  • Pour ⅔ the dressing into the bowl with sliced onions and cucumbers to marinate.

Sear tuna

  • Preheat cast-iron skillet over high heat and add oil.
    1 Tbsp cooking oil.
  • Sear crusted tuna a minute on each side.
    454 g sushi-grade tuna steak
  • Drizzle ⅓ cup of dressing mixture over seared tuna and allow to coat.
    Seared tuna tataki
  • Place on a cutting board to cool.

Assemble plate

  • Cut or tear romaine lettuce.
    2 romaine lettuce heads
  • Half, peel, pit and slice avocado.
    2 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • Slice the seared tuna into ¼-½" strips.
  • Place the lettuce on the bottom of each plate, followed by the pickled vegetables.
  • Add the sliced tuna and sliced avocados on the top.
  • Drizzle with salad dressing from the cucumber and onion bowl.
    Tuna Tataki Salad with jalapeno soy dressing
  • Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.


Serving: 4servingsCalories: 514kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 6gFat: 49gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 34gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 1608mgPotassium: 856mgFiber: 9gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2836IUVitamin C: 33mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 2mgNet Carbohydrates: 10g
Keyword Fish, fusion salad, seafood, tuna
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was or if you have any questions or suggestions!
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