Seared Tuna: to Sous-Vide or Not to Sous-Vide

Recently we were on vacation in Cabo Verde, an archipelago off the coast of Senegal where the sun always shines. We were there for the weather, 25ºC/77ºF and sunny, not the food. There is an abundance of fresh fish, obviously, but a lack of refrigeration and knowing how to cook seafood. It was very hard to see locally caught yellowfin tuna being cooked well done, but I couldn’t persuade them to serve it otherwise. This may be due to the fact that the fish is not refrigerated between being caught and ending up in the restaurant refrigerator, so perhaps they had a point.

It did remind me that I had never yet done a post on this blog on seared tuna, and not on tuna sous-vide either. Except for a post about sous-vide tuna confit, but that’s more like a deluxe version of canned tuna. Since I haven’t done a side-by-side experiment for a while, I thought it would be time for one. And so I got a nice piece of tuna, cut it in half, and cooked half of it sous-vide. Then I seared both pieces. Curious about the verdict? Read on…

This was the tuna steak I started with. About 2 cm (.8 inch) thick.

I cut it in half and vacuum sealed one half. I left the other one at room temperature, while I cooked the vacuum sealed part sous-vide for 20 minutes at 42ºC/108ºF.

Afterwards, I patted both pieces dry, while I was heating up the griddle.

I brushed the tuna with olive oil…

…and then seared it on the griddle. About 30 seconds per side, just enough to get grill marks. I actually overcooked one of the sides a bit because I needed to take a photo for the blog…

After searing the tuna, I seasoned with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil.

It should be obvious that the piece that was cooked sous-vide is on the right-hand side. Although I am an advocate of sous-vide, that doesn’t mean that I think you should always use it. In this case, I preferred the tuna that was seared only. This is however a matter of taste. The seared tuna was still rare in the center. I like it that way. The tuna cooked sous-vide was more like medium. It was slightly more tender. Both were good, but I don’t think I’ll bother to cook tuna sous-vide again.

Oh, how I wish to have been able to sample the locally caught fresh tuna in Cabo Verde seared straight from the ocean…


I had never heard of almond poppy seed muffins before visiting the USA. But I grew to love them as they are awesome. The combination of almond and poppy seed works very well indeed.



10 thoughts on “Seared Tuna: to Sous-Vide or Not to Sous-Vide

  1. Are you aware that the last picture in the blog post is shown with title i Feedly RSS reader.
    So “Seared Tuna” is illustrated with a picture of “almond poppy seed muffins” in this blogpost.

    You should consider changing this approach so that your readers see a relevant picture in the overview.


    1. Hi Jens, thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately, I cannot fix this problem. I’ve selected the correct photo as the “featured” photo of the post, but apparently the RSS feed picks up the wrong one.


  2. It hurt me when I read your post about how you were pantomiming to the chef to get him to not overcook the tuna! I’ve told this story to many people. So sad. It must not be a tourist destination or they’d have real chefs. And then the food would cost three times as much… Good to know about sous vide and tuna. I’m not surprised. I have decided to limit sous vide’ing to lower quality cuts of meat. Although that sea bass I did sous vide was pretty fabulous!


  3. I think if you cook a tuna SV really you cannot sear it as well afterwards for best result. It’s a different approach and result than the old-fashioned sear outside/raw inside. That being said, I absolutely agree with your result, a good tuna steak is much better served by cooking the old fashioned way.


  4. Stefan, it’s this type of post that makes your blog so very interesting and entertaining.

    We like our tuna steaks cut thick. So, last time I was in the fishmongers (while youngest was home) I got two very thick steaks, to feed four. This was agreed with youngest and eldest. Two days later, I asked Sharon where the tuna had gone. She didn’t know. The sheepish daughters admitted that they had eaten one each. It would appear that they were delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

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