Sizzling with fresh Moroccan spices and herbs, this pan-seared ahi tuna has all the heat and colour you need for the perfect one pan dinner! Flavoured with bright red Moroccan paprika, turmeric, and cumin, and simmered in a delicious sauce made from a couple select veggies. Finish off with green cilantro and buttery garlic cloves… this really is the perfect fish to enjoy with fresh baked challah or rolls(perfect for dipping in all that sauce!).
We grew up on ahi tuna in Hawaii. Our fish guy brought us huge chunks of fresh red ahi straight from his fishing boat, and we enjoyed it poke-style, grilled, as sashimi, and seared with sesame seeds for topping a hearty salad.
When I packed my bags at 18 and left the island for the Middle East, and later moved out to the countryside of Israel with my husband, we saw ahi cooked a different way. We are pleasured to have many Moroccan friends and neighbours, who have taught us to cook with the freshest produce and how to best use the incredible spices offered on this side of the world.
We learned to make kebabs with Ras El Hanout spice, and all types of Moroccan fish- something we make every single Friday night. I alternate between moroccan style salmon baked in the oven, and different stove-top dishes. Naturally, I’m so excited to share todays’ recipe!
This dish is so fun to prepare– hello minimal dishes!- and I just love the tantalising aroma of the garlic and spices sautéing in oil. So much colour, and so much flavour from just a few ingredients!
Moroccan paprika. This is paprika on crack! It’s really sweet paprika in oil, which is then dried so it’s still a spice and not a paste. It adds incredible red colour to this dish, as well as a stronger flavour compared to regular paprika.
Turmeric. Just a little turmeric goes a long way! This stuff is so healthy and also adds so much colour.
Cumin. This spice adds more depth of flavour and a savoury twist.
I love how simple this dish is to prepare- you really just add all the ingredients to one pan in different steps. The flavours get cooked on their own and layered and when you remove the lid at the final step- Oh you must take a bite and try it!
Salt the fish. First thing is to salt the tuna steaks, for around 15 minutes. Simply lay the fish on a plate and sprinkle over a bit of coarse salt on both sides. This draws out any fishy flavour- we will rinse the fish afterwards before adding it the the pan!
Sauté the Spices. To open up the flavours of the spices first we’ll add them to a nice big, high-rimmed pan with some oil. Next add the garlic- I LOVE big buttery pieces of soft garlic, so I leave my cloves whole and I use a whole head of garlic. You can chop up the garlic, or even some of it, according to your taste.
Next add tomato and red bell pepper– the two veggies most often used to cook any type of Moroccan fish! Combining the two gives a nice hearty sauce to really dive into. Make sure to thinly slice the tomato and slice the pepper into really thing strips as well, they soften up the best that way, and cook faster too!
I also add a hot chili pepper- depending on the season, a red or a green jalapeño. Keep the stem intact and make a few slices down the length to let the heat from the veins of the pepper(where the true spiciness is held), seep into the dish.
Once you’ve got a nice sauce with the veggies and spices, lay the fish on top and spoon over some of the sauce from the sides of the pan to coat the fish in flavour. Add a lid and let that simmer until the fish is almost fully cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Lastly, sprinkle over a generous handful of cilantro, cover the dish again, and give it a last simmer. Isn’t it beautiful?!
I serve this dish along with fresh bread(these pitas would be great!), and to eat, tear off a piece and add some ahi and veggies on top- the perfect bite!
I hope you love this Moroccan Pan Seared Ahi Tuna like we do- be sure to leave a review and a comment below if you make it, and always share your photos with us on Instagram! As always, Happy Cooking!
Moroccan Pan Seared Ahi Tuna
- 2 fillets fresh or freshly frozen ahi tuna
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2 tsp moroccan paprika
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8-1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 whole head garlic
- 1 ripe tomato
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 hot pepper, red
- 1/4 cup cilantro roughly chopped
Salt fish + Prep
- Lay the ahi tuna fillets on a plate. Sprinkle over 1/4 tsp of salt on each tuna fillet, flip and salt the second side. Let sit for 10-15 minutes while you prep the vegetables. Slice the tomato in half, lay it cut side down, and cut into slices as thin as possible. Seed the pepper(remove the stem and seeds), cut in fourths, and slice into thin strips. Roughly chop the cilantro and set aside.
- To a wide, high rimmed pan set over medium high heat, add 1/4 cup oil, moroccan paprika, turmeric, pepper, salt, and cumin. Throw in the garlic cloves(if the cloves are very large slice them in half). Sauté until fragrant, mixing with a wooden spoon, for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tomato and pepper, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until it has thickened and looks like sauce. Rinse the fish. Push aside the vegetable and gently add the tuna fillets to the pan. Spoon over some of the sauce to coat the fish, cover with a lid, lower the heat to medium, and let it cook for 15 minutes, until the fish is almost cooked through.
- Sprinkle over chopped cilantro, cover again, and let simmer for a last 15 minutes, till the sauce thickens and the fish is to your liking.