Tuna Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw

These ahi tuna tacos are bursting with flavor! They pair seared ahi tuna with cilantro lime slaw and creamy chipotle…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

These ahi tuna tacos are bursting with flavor! They pair seared ahi tuna with cilantro lime slaw and creamy chipotle crema.

Tuna tacos

Love a good fish taco? Here’s a new spin that you’ll fall for just as hard: Ahi Tuna Tacos! Meaty tuna steak is the ideal filling for a taco, contrasted with fresh cilantro lime slaw. Top it off with chipotle sauce and another sprinkle of cilantro, and it’s a little bit of everything: savory, spicy, fresh, cool, and creamy. It’s ideal for an easy weeknight meal, but impressive enough for entertaining. If you’re a tuna steak lover like we are, you’ll love this unique way to serve this versatile fish.

Elements in tuna tacos

These tuna tacos are a spin on the fish taco, invented in the 1950s in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. In fact, both the cities of Ensenada and San Felipe, Mexico claim to have invented the fish taco! The idea then quickly spread across the border to San Diego, where they became popular in America in the 1980’s (much in part to a restaurant called Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill).

This recipe seeks to honor the traditional Mexican flavors, using seared tuna instead of the typical breaded fish and pairing it with a zingy fresh slaw. Here are the elements in these ahi tuna tacos:

  • Ahi tuna steaks
  • Spices: Cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder
  • Cilantro lime slaw
  • Chipotle crema (or alternative sauce; see below)
  • Tortillas
  • Red onion (for garnish)
Ahi Tuna Tacos

Tips for buying ahi tuna steak

Ahi tuna, aka yellowfin tuna or bigeye tuna, is a mild, lean fish commonly served as sushi, in poke bowls, or cooked rare or medium-rare. Here’s what to look for when buying tuna steaks for these tuna tacos:

  • Make sure it’s sushi or sashimi grade. There are no specific regulations around the label “sushi-grade,” but it means it’s a high quality fish that is safe to be eaten raw.
  • Check at the fish counter. You should be able to find ahi tuna steaks at your local grocery counter.
  • Look for frozen steaks. Or, it’s possible that your grocery might have frozen steaks. These can be even fresher than fresh tuna if they’re flash frozen right when they’re caught. You’ll just need to thaw the night before in the refrigerator.
  • Find wild caught. Fish that is wild caught is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.

How to cook tuna steak

Once you’ve got a great piece of fish, the hardest part of this recipe is searing the tuna. Here are a few tips on how to cook tuna steaks:

  • Allow it to come to room temperature first! This is important: otherwise the inside is still cold when the exterior is cooked! Allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes prior to cooking. You can use this time to prepare the slaw and sauce, then sear the fish right before serving.
  • Use a food thermometer to assess temperature (130 degrees Fahrenheit). Add the steaks to a skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned on the outside but still rare the inside. For a medium-rare tuna steak, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a food thermometer at the thickest point.
  • Rest for 2 minutes. This helps it to set and become easier to cut.
Cilantro Lime Slaw

For the cilantro lime slaw

A great fish taco often has a creamy slaw, and this one is no exception! The cilantro lime slaw in these tacos is so good, you’ll find yourself continually sneaking bites. This recipe has a bit of a shortcut so you’re not spending too much time chopping. Use a bag of coleslaw mix, then combine it with shredded red cabbage! It makes for a lovely mix of color and texture.

Tip: Got any leftover cilantro lime slaw? Eat it as a side dish for the tacos!

Sauces for tuna tacos

These tuna tacos are fantastic drizzled with chipotle crema, which adds a savory creaminess and a bit of smoky heat. Mix it up while your tuna comes to room temp, or try one of these alternative sauces based on your preferences and what you have on hand:

  • Chipotle crema: A sour cream-based sauce with adobo sauce, garlic and lime
  • Chipotle sauce: A zingy vegan sauce with tahini, adobo sauce and lime
  • Yum Yum sauce: A mayo-based savory sweet sauce that originated at Japanese steakhouses (not spicy)
Chipotle Crema

More tuna recipes

Tuna is one versatile fish! Here are a few more great tuna steak recipes with ideas for how to cook it:

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Tuna tacos

Tuna Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 (8 tacos)

Description

These tuna tacos are bursting with flavor! They pair seared ahi tuna with cilantro lime slaw and creamy chipotle crema.


Ingredients

For the cilantro lime slaw

  • 14 ounce bag coleslaw mix (7 cups)
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • ¾ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

For the tuna tacos


Instructions

  1. Allow the tuna steak to come to room temperature by letting it stand for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the slaw: Shred the red cabbage and chop the cilantro. Place it in a large bowl with the coleslaw mix. Mix in the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lime juice, maple syrup, chili powder, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Make the sauce: Make the Chipotle Crema, Chipotle Sauce or Yum Yum Sauce.
  4. Cook the tuna: When ready to cook, pat the tuna dry. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Sprinkle the seasoning mix liberally on all sides of the tuna. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the tuna steak and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned on the outside but still rare the inside. The tuna will continue cooking while sitting. For a medium-rare tuna steak, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a food thermometer at the thickest point. Cool for 2 minutes. Then slice the tuna against the grain into ½-inch slices. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.
  5. Warm the tortillas: Warm and char the tortillas by placing them on an open gas flame on medium for a few seconds per side, flipping with tongs, until they are slightly blackened and warm. (See How to Warm Tortillas.)
  6. Assemble the tacos: Add generous spoonfuls of cilantro lime slaw, then slices of tuna. Top with Chipotle Sauce and more fresh cilantro. Enjoy immediately. 

Notes

*Frozen is okay, just thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican Inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Tuna tacos, ahi tuna tacos

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Poke Bowl Recipe

Here’s how to make a poke bowl! This classic recipe stars ahi tuna marinaded in a flavorful poke sauce, rice, and lots of veggie topping ideas. How much do you love a good poke bowl? This Hawaiian bowl of seasoned raw fish, rice and crunchy veggies has caught on here on the mainland, and everybody’s doing it! Yep, there are a few poke restaurants right here in Indianapolis, the middle of the Midwest. Because poke is that good. And guess what? You can easily make poke in the comfort of your own home: it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, or even better for a showy meal for entertaining. Want a plant based option? Go to Vegan Poke Bowl. What is poke? Poke is Hawaiian for “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces, and it refers to the raw fish that’s cut into cubes. It originated from fisherman in Hawaii who would season leftover parts of their catch for a snack! Poke is a Hawaiian-American food, but much of its flavor is influenced by Japanese cuisine: soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. You can make poke out of any raw fish, but the most common fish you’ll see is ahi […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make a poke bowl! This classic recipe stars ahi tuna marinaded in a flavorful poke sauce, rice, and lots of veggie topping ideas.

Poke bowl recipe

How much do you love a good poke bowl? This Hawaiian bowl of seasoned raw fish, rice and crunchy veggies has caught on here on the mainland, and everybody’s doing it! Yep, there are a few poke restaurants right here in Indianapolis, the middle of the Midwest. Because poke is that good. And guess what? You can easily make poke in the comfort of your own home: it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, or even better for a showy meal for entertaining.

Want a plant based option? Go to Vegan Poke Bowl.

What is poke?

Poke is Hawaiian for “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces, and it refers to the raw fish that’s cut into cubes. It originated from fisherman in Hawaii who would season leftover parts of their catch for a snack! Poke is a Hawaiian-American food, but much of its flavor is influenced by Japanese cuisine: soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. You can make poke out of any raw fish, but the most common fish you’ll see is ahi tuna.

Poke can be served as either an appetizer, or in a bowl as a main dish. Serve it with rice, veggies, and other sauces and it becomes a poke bowl. What does it taste like? You’ve got to taste it to believe it, but with a good ahi tuna it tastes buttery, savory, and altogether otherworldly.

Ahi poke

What’s in the poke sauce?

This poke bowl recipe features glistening ahi tuna poke in a marinade that makes it taste like the most incredible food on the planet. You’ll cut the tuna into cubes, then stir it with these flavors and let it marinade. Here are the flavors that go into this poke sauce:

  • Sweet yellow onion (has a milder flavor than yellow onion)
  • Green onions
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil (plain, not toasted, to gently accentuate the flavor of the fish)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sriracha (just a squirt to brighten the flavor without adding heat)
Poke bowl

Do you really have to marinade 1 hour?

Most classic poke bowl recipes call for marinading the poke for 1 hour. But do you really have to wait a whole hour before digging in? Great question. To find out, Alex and I taste tested our poke right away, at 30 minutes, and at 1 hour to see how the flavor changed. The verdict?

  • You can eat your poke right away! It tastes incredible.
  • Marinading even 15 to 30 minutes rounds out the flavor.
  • If you have the time, marinade for 1 hour: the flavors really permeate the fish.

Raw fish? Here’s how to find the best ahi tuna

You’ll be eating raw fish in a poke bowl, so you want to make sure to get the very best tuna you can find. Here are some pointers:

  • Make sure to purchase ahi tuna that is marked sushi or sashimi grade.
  • Sometimes this will be in the frozen fish area, or at the fish counter.
  • If you aren’t sure, make sure to confirm with the store that this fish is safe to eat raw.
Ahi tuna

Poke bowl topping ideas

There are so many ways to make a poke bowl! This bowl is built around the assumption: if you start with great poke, you’ll have a great poke bowl. The fish is the star here, so really anything you do with it will taste incredible. The poke sauce will drip down into the veggies and rice, helping to flavor them. In this bowl, we did add some light seasonings to each veggie to bring out the flavor. Here’s what you’ll find in this poke bowl, and then some other ideas:

Toppings in this poke bowl

  • Short grain rice white or brown, we tend toward brown since it has more fiber and nutrients. Traditionally it’s white sushi rice. This bowl we actually used purple short grain rice, which was also tasty!
  • Red cabbage flavored with a little rice vinegar and salt
  • Cucumber with a few pinches of salt
  • Edamame frozen and thawed, well salted
  • Radishes if you can find watermelon radishes, they’ve got beautiful color!
  • Sesame seeds

Other poke topping ideas

  • Cucumber seaweed salad: Take 1 large English cucumber and julienne it into long thin strips (3 cups; we used a handheld julienne peeler). Mix with 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.
  • Spicy mayo: Everything is better with a little spicy mayo: right? We also use this on our Vegan Poke Bowl.
  • Carrot ribbons: Julienne carrots or slice them into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
  • Avocado: Many poke bowls have avocado: we also used it in our Vegan Poke Bowl.
  • Ponzu sauce
Poke bowl topping ideas

Other great poke recipes

Want more ideas? There are great resources from Hawaiian chefs:

Ahi tuna poke bowl

This poke bowl recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

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Poke bowl recipe

Poke Bowl Recipe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

Here’s how to make a poke bowl! Try this easy healthy dinner recipe with rice, ahi tuna marinaded in a flavorful sauce, and lots of veggie topping ideas.


Ingredients

For the poke

  • 1 1/2 pounds ahi tuna, sushi or sashimi grade (3 steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1/4 cup minced sweet yellow onion
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (not toasted)
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Small squeeze sriracha

For the poke bowl

  • 1 cup dry short grain white rice or brown rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 watermelon radish or 2 radishes
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (thawed)
  • Rice vinegar and kosher salt, for seasoning
  • For the garnish: Sesame seeds, microgreens or sprouts
  • Optional: Spicy Mayo

Instructions

  1. Make the rice: Make the rice on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot. When it’s done, give it a few shakes of rice vinegar and stir in salt to taste. (Or, make the rice in advance and reheat it on the stovetop with a splash of water.)
  2. For the poke: Slice the tuna into 1-inch cubes. Mince the onion. Thinly slice the green onions. Mix them in a bowl with the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, kosher salt and Sriracha. 
  3. Serve immediately, but for most authentic flavor marinate in refrigerator for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt before serving.* (Get this in the fridge while the rice boils and you prep the veggies, and you can eat when it’s all done.)
  4. Prepare the vegetables: Thinly slice the red cabbage. Place it in a small bowl and add a few shakes of rice vinegar and a few pinches salt. Thinly slice the cucumber and radishes, and salt them with a few pinches of salt. 
  5. Assemble the poke bowls: Place the rice in the bowl and top with the poke and vegetables. Garnish with sesame seeds and greens. 

Notes

*It tastes great either way. The traditional poke is marinaded at least 1 hour. If you’re looking for a quick meal, it’s very good right away too.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian

Keywords: Poke Bowl, Poke Bowl Recipe

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes