Pepper Tuna

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

When I worked in Paris years ago, one of my favorite dishes to eat was steak au poivre—steak coated in coarsely ground pepper before it’s cooked. This dish is made the same way, but with tuna in place of steak. It was an instant success when I introduced it at Da Silvano almost two decades ago, and it’s still popular today.

Serve this with accompaniments you might enjoy with a steak, such as Cime di Rapa.

Wine Suggestion: Fiano di Avellino-Feudi San Gregorio


Cooking Methodpan-frying



Total Timeunder 15 minutes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFormal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, kosher, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes



Taste and Texturehot & spicy, spiced, tangy, umami


  • 4 sushi-grade tuna fillets (8 oz/225g each), each cut 6 inches/15 cm long and 2 inches/5 cm thick
  • ½ cup/110ml olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • ½ cup/55g coarsely ground black pepper or crushed black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon


Lightly coat each tuna fillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil, using your fingers to spread it out evenly. Season the tuna fillets lightly with salt. Spread the pepper out on a clean dry surface and roll the tuna fillets in the pepper, pressing down to make sure that it adheres to the fish.

Warm the remaining olive oil in a pan large enough to hold the tuna over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the tuna fillets. Sear on all sides, about 90 seconds for each of 4 sides or longer for more well done.

Remove the tuna from the pan, slice each fillet into ¾-inch slices, divide among 4 dinner plates, drizzle with the lemon juice, and serve at once.



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