sesame wasabi crusted tuna

sesame wasabi crusted tuna with kale rice and a cucumber ginger salad

This sesame wasabi crusted tuna is a really nice way of making a dinner that feels that elusive combination of healthy and fancy at the same time. Last month I was hankering for something crunchy and fried. I’ll be honest, I was craving something like fried chicken but if I ate fried chicken every time I wanted I wouldn’t end up in a good way! I had some fresh tuna in the fridge but this recipe works equally well with salmon or another type of fish steak.

I was trying to think of something healthy but crunchy and settled on sesame seeds. They sent me on a Japanese path so I decided to use some wasabi paste to help the seeds stick to the fish. Then, to balance out the dense fish and crunchy coating I decided on a ginger and cucumber salad to top it off. I also made some kale and spring onion [green onion] brown rice too using my life-saving stash of cooked brown rice that I keep in the freezer.

Making this for people who are pickier

If you are cooking for a fish hater this may win them over – you could even cut the fish into fingers before covering with the sesame seeds to up the crunch to fish ratio. If the wasabi scares you, use mayonnaise as the glue to stick the crumbs on.

If they really are a fish hater then you could cut very thin slices of chicken breast and make little nuggets with the wasabi and sesame in the same way.

If children need leading into a new recipe like this, just give them regular fish fingers with plain rice, chopped cucumber and a little pot of the tamari or soy sauce to dip into. Then next time switch the bought fish fingers up to homemade with a few sesame seeds mixed in with breadcrumbs, then next time make them the real recipe. Sometimes these baby steps, while a bit annoying, are the best way to guide them into trying new things, just changing one thing at a time gradually.

How to save time

This is a fast recipe anyway. I can have it on the table in 20 minutes. I usually cook the two pans of kale rice and tuna at the same time, if you fee confident enough to do this, just start the tuna when you put the kale into the other pan.

Sesame wasabi crusted tuna with kale rice and a cucumber ginger salad ingredients (serves 2)

For the tuna and crunchy coating:

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi paste – available in a tube in the Asian foods area of a supermarket. Use mayo if you are sensitive to heat
  • 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon olive or rapeseed (canola) oil

For the salad

  • Half a cucumber
  • an inch of fresh ginger
  • a lime

For the kale rice

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (I cook a big batch then freeze it in individual containers ready for recipes like this)
  • 500g (1b) whole leaf Cavolo Nero/Dino kale – ready chopped kale is always very stalky and tough so buy whole leaf instead
  • 4 spring onions (green onions)
  • a tablespoon or so of Tamari or soy sauce
  • a lime, juice and zest
  • optional – chopped chilli to taste or sweet chilli sauce

To make

1. Put your sesame seeds on a small plate (big enough to hold a tuna steak) and shake them so they spread out into a thin layer.

2.  Use a butter knife or spatula to spread the wasabi paste all over the outside of the tuna – sides as well. You don’t want it to be very thick unless, like me, you love the nose tingle of wasabi.

3.  Press the tuna into the sesame seeds then flip, press again on the other side then roll the sides through the seeds until all side are covered. Set aside and repeat with the other steak.  Set aside.

4. Wash and shred the kale by holding it at the stalk end in a bundle. Start cutting at the other end in strips as thinly as you can. Discard the last inch of stem. Chop the spring onions by thinly slicing them on the diagonal, using all the green and white bits.

5. Put your shredded kale and spring onion (green onion) into a large saucepan along with a couple of tablespoons of water. Put the lid on and cook over a high heat, shaking every minute or so without taking the lid off the pan. This should take around 3 minutes for the kale to wilt. Add the cooked or frozen rice to the pan, stir, drop the heat to low and replace the lid while it heats through. When the rice is piping hot, turn the heat off and add the lime juice and zest, chilli if using, soy or Tamari. Stir and taste and add more of these flavours if you need more acidity (lime juice) or salt (tamari or soy). Leave with the lid on until you’re ready to eat.

6.  Heat a frying pan on medium high then add your oil. Once the oil is hot, place your tuna steaks into the pan. Cooking time will vary depending on how you like your tuna cooked, how cold and thick the pieces are and how hot your pan is. I cook mine for around 4 minutes on one side, keep an eye that the seeds aren’t burning. If they start to, drop the heat and flip the tuna. Check the centre for colour – the more opaque it is the more cooked it is. I like mine to still be rare in the middle.

7.  While the tuna cooks, use a speed peeler to shave ribbons off your cucumber into a bowl. Peel your ginger by scraping the skin off with the edge of a teaspoon, then grate it with a coarse Microplane grater. If you’re not sure about the spice of ginger, add it gradually, tasting as you go. Then add lime juice and zest and salt to taste.

7.  Serve your tuna sitting on a pile of the kale rice and scoop some of the cucumber salad on top of the tuna. Leftover tuna is yummy crumbled into a salad or stirred through noodles the next day. It also makes an amazing sandwich with wasabi mayonnaise and salad.


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