8 & $20: Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks with Grilled Pineapple and Sweet Chile Sauce

Give your dinner a tropical vibe with this dish and a bright white wine
8 & $20: Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks with Grilled Pineapple and Sweet Chile Sauce
For a successful pairing, look for a wine with enough fruit to stand up to the sweetness of the pineapple and the chile sauce. (Greg Hudson)
Jul 16, 2019

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.

Today we have a dish perfect for sunny weather—or if the day isn’t sunny, it’ll help you conjure up those tropical vibes. It’s also fast, elegant and can be prepared indoors or out.

Serving ahi tuna makes it feel like you’re taking dinner up a notch. But it’s a quick and easy protein to prepare, as it should be served as rare as possible and only needs a brief sear. Just make sure the tuna is of very good quality. I cooked the steaks on a grill pan indoors, but you could take things outside and make this on a grill instead. When ready to serve, top off the steaks with sweet chile sauce for an easy burst of flavor.

To keep things simple, the same ingredients are used to make the marinade for the fish and the dressing for the slaw. I made one big batch, then divided it in half. If you like a thicker dressing, add more oil to the half intended for the slaw and whisk well until it emulsifies. I made use of pre-shredded broccoli slaw, available at most grocery stores, to reduce some chopping time. You can substitute cabbage or salad greens. (If using more delicate greens, wait to dress the leaves until right before serving.)

Peeling and coring the pineapple for grilling is the only prep step that takes time; however, if you’re in a rush (or just feeling lazy), buy pre-sliced pineapple for convenience. After peeling and slicing the pineapple, I used the rim of a small jar to cut out the core from each slice; a cookie cutter would work as well.

I was looking for a juicy, refreshing wine to pair with this dish. The sweetness of the grilled pineapple and the sweet chile sauce required consideration, as sweet food can make a wine taste sour; I wanted wines with ripe but fresh fruit flavors. I opted for a Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County and a Riesling from Australia’s Eden Valley.

The Sauvignon Blanc was bright and had plenty of ripe grapefruit and tropical fruit notes. It went quite well with bites that were predominantly tuna and broccoli slaw, but suffered against the sweeter elements. If you omitted the pineapple from this dish and kept the sauce light, a Sauvignon Blanc would make a great option.

The Riesling was a dry version full of crisp citrus and green apple flavors, as well as hints of ginger and passion fruit. It fared better overall, working with all the components of the dish. If you’re open to off-dry Rieslings, I’d recommend going in that direction, but for those who prefer dry whites, this made for a very satisfying choice.

Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks with Grilled Pineapple, Sweet Chile Sauce and Broccoli Slaw

Pair with a dry, fruit-forward Riesling such as Pewsey Vale Riesling Eden Valley Dry 2017 (91 points, $19).

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes marinating time
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Total time: 70 minutes
Approximate food costs: $58


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, toasted sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, or to taste
  • 4 ahi tuna steaks
  • 12-ounce package of pre-shredded broccoli slaw
  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into eight 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sweet chile sauce, for serving
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


1. Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, 1/4 cup of toasted sesame oil, minced garlic, grated ginger and a pinch of pepper. Whisk well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

2. Place tuna in a shallow bowl. Pour half of the soy–orange juice mixture over the steaks and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally to make sure the marinade evenly coats the fish.

3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (or to taste) of toasted sesame oil to the other half of the soy–orange juice mixture. (You can substitute olive oil here, particularly if you’d like to use more oil.) Whisk well to combine and emulsify into a dressing. Gradually pour the mixture over the broccoli slaw in a large bowl and toss well to combine so that the slaw is lightly coated. Set the slaw aside until ready to serve. Reserve any extra dressing to serve on the side.

4. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat and oil well. (You can also use an outdoor grill.) Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, place pineapple slices on the grill pan and sear for about 3 minutes per side, until they have nicely defined grill marks. Transfer the pineapple slices to a plate and set aside.

5. Remove the tuna from the marinade, pat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Clean off and re-oil the grill pan if needed. Add the tuna steaks and sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side; the center should remain raw or nearly raw. Remove from pan and allow the tuna steaks to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

6. Accompany each steak with two pineapple slices, drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of sweet chile sauce per serving, and plate the broccoli slaw on the side. Serves 4, with generous portions.

Recipes Cooking Seafood Riesling

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