Yummmmm!!! For all the chilli sauce lovers out there, this spicy tuna salad will tantalise your taste buds. Combine it with the umami flavours of tamari and the unique zesty, warm tones of ginger, and you have yourself the best raw fish salad in town!
Why You’ll Love This Salad
If you love eating good quality raw tuna such as sushi, sashimi or in your poké bowls, this recipe is made for you! This super tasty tuna is marinated in an umami Sriracha marinade that sucks up all the flavoursome tamari and ginger.
The tuna is paired with red pomelo for its bright pink flesh and fresh red radish for crunch and peppery notes.
Apart from the lovely pink and red hues of the salad that aims to please, this is also a no-cook salad! Perfect if the kitchen is already abuzz with dishes on the cooktop and in the oven, and you have one less dish to have to worry about.
We love raw fish and seafood and no better way to incorporate them than in a salad for something a little different such as our Kingfish Sashimi Salad with Pickled Radish or Scallop Sashimi Salad with Finger Lime.
Can You Eat Raw Tuna?
The quick answer to this is yes; you can eat raw tuna. However, like eating any raw fish, it requires safe food handling, and it has to be fresh. Raw tuna should be frozen immediately to help eliminate parasites.
Types of Tuna for Eating
It occurred to me that I didn’t know my tuna very well. So, I thought I’d do some research and educate myself about the different types of tuna that are popular for consumption.
Albacore tuna is a common variety of tuna and is found on the shelves of supermarkets in the US more than anywhere else. It has a mild flavour, and its flesh is white. They are both canned and pouched and sold specifically as Albacore tuna. You will be able to find Albacore tuna can in your local supermarket.
It is priced higher than the other canned tuna as it is considered to be a premium product. However, compared to other raw fish, they have a higher level of mercury than its more common variety so perhaps consume Albacore tuna in moderation.
If you’ve ever had a poké bowl, you’d be familiar with “ahi” tuna. “Ahi” tuna in Hawaii refers to the Bigeye variety as Bigeye tuna is great for sashimi-style consumption.
They are fairly large fish that is mild in flavour and can be found in the open waters of tropical and temperate oceans. The excellent quality of the Bigeye tuna means it doesn’t get canned or pouched.
Bluefin tuna is by far the most expensive tuna on the market and the granddaddy of all tuna. It has more fat, a better flavour and is deep red in colour, which lends itself to be the best variety for sushi and sashimi
Bluefin tuna price is astronomical. This is because it is a highly sought after fish, with its bulk exported to Japan. A single giant tuna can fetch more than US $100,000! This tuna sashimi is undoubtedly out of reach for the common folk.
Bluefin tuna is a big fish. They grow to about 3 meters in length and can weigh more than 450kg or over 1000 pounds. One of the biggest Bluefin tuna recorded weighed a whopping 725kgs or 1600 pounds!
Many years ago, Phenie and I went to Tokyo for the first time, and we visited Tsukiji market in the wee hours of the morning. We managed to catch the end of the tuna auctions as we watched giant frozen tuna being transported on forklifts and massive chainsaws being used to cut them up into saleable pieces and sold as sushi-grade tuna.
If you’re consuming raw tuna, Bluefin tuna make the best tuna sashimi.
Skipjack tuna is the smallest variety of tuna on the market, and due to its affordability, this is the tuna that gets canned. It has the strongest flavour of the varieties, and this is also the tuna used to make Japanese bonito flakes.
Skipjack tuna is often called chunk light in its canned version and can come in spring water, brine or oil.
Much like Bigeye tuna, Yellowfin tuna is also referred to as “ahi” tuna in Hawaii. Although it is less expensive than Bluefin tuna, it is still of reasonable quality and can be eaten raw. Their sushi-grade tuna is fantastic and is often used in poké bowls.
Yellowfin tuna steaks are also very popular for searing and grilling, where it cooks beautifully on the outside whilst still raw and pink on the inside.
Flavour/Texture: This spicy tuna recipe is a flavour bomb! The Sriracha sauce provides the heat and its signature flavours; the sesame oil is incredibly aromatic, while the tamari provides the necessary umami flavours.
The red radish gives freshness and peppery flavours, while the red pomelo is all about the sweet yet bitter tastes. Every ingredient has its role to play.
The raw tuna is fresh and soft from a texture perspective, while the red pomelo pops and the radish is crunchy. The red bell pepper mix also adds another layer of texture as they are scattered on the plate.
Ease: The most challenging part of this entire fresh spicy tuna salad is actually peeling the red pomelo! They do require a bit of work to cut open the thick skin and then prying them apart to get out the lovely pink flesh. Everything else is a breeze.
Time: The tuna marinade needs to work its magic, so it requires, at a minimum, an hour in the fridge. Do all your other prep during that time to maximise the time.
These are the ingredients you need for Spicy Tuna Salad:
Tuna steak: Get a very good quality piece of sushi-grade tuna steak for this spicy tuna recipe. As you’re eating it raw, it needs to be extremely fresh. Purchase on the day from your fishmonger if time allows it—otherwise, no earlier than the day before.
Red pomelo: Pomelos are citrus fruits with remarkable health benefits. For this recipe, we’re after the red flesh pomelo and not the white. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell from the external peel if the pomelo is red or white as it’s not always labelled. So I simply ask the greengrocer what variety it is.
Of course, the white pomelo would be fine to use; however, they are not as sweet and are bland in colour. But if you desperately want to make this spicy tuna salad, please go ahead and get the white-fleshed pomelo.
Radishes: You only need about 5-6, depending on the size. If you can’t find gorgeous French breakfast radishes, regular red radishes will suffice. A good way to tell if they are fresh is by looking at the green leaves. If they are turning yellow and wilting, try finding a fresher bunch.
Tamari: The perfect gluten free version of soy sauce and also a little less salty. You can easily find this umami sauce in the Asian section of your supermarket or any Asian grocery store.
Spicy Sriracha sauce: Love this famous Thai chilli sauce made of chilli peppers, vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar. Also known as the rooster sauce because of its label, it’s a sauce that can easily be found in the sauce or Asian section of your supermarket. Make sure you only get the Huy Fong brand!
If you love aioli Sriracha, we have a fabulous recipe. Sriracha mayo is the best combination!
Bell pepper mix: We are after dehydrated peppers that are ripe and really sweet. You will be able to find these in the spice section. They are fantastic to sprinkle over salads. You’ll have no trouble finishing off the packet!
Sesame oil: This is an incredibly aromatic oil that speaks for itself and doesn’t require a lot. It truly changes the makeup of sauce or dressing and is a wonderful way to infuse a recipe with these sesame flavours.
If you love all things sesame, you can also sprinkle some sesame seeds on top when you have plated the spicy tuna salad. Make sure you give the sesame seeds a little toast to really bring out the flavours.
Rice wine vinegar: The quintessential vinegar to use in an Asian inspired salad dressing recipe.
Ginger: Grate the ginger so that it can work its magic into the tamari dressing. Use a teaspoon to scrape the skin off instead of a peeler as it takes too much off. Then grate a small section to yield just 1 tsp.
Caster sugar: With all the intense flavours of the sauces, we just need a little bit of caster sugar to sweeten the overall taste.
Pepper: To taste.
Follow these instructions for how to make Spicy Tuna Salad.
Making spicy tuna is easy. First, cut the tuna steak into small cubes. Then, marinate it with 2 tbsp tamari, 1 tbsp spicy Sriracha sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil for 1 hour. Of course, if you prefer, you can always thinly slice the raw fish.
This process is great for your meal plan as you can marinate the raw fish overnight and then create the salad the next day for lunch or dinner.
Peel the red pomelo. Try to keep 2 wedges intact when removing them from the inner skin. Then, peel the rest of the pomelo away from the skin, and we want them loose.
Using a mandoline, slice 3 of the larger red radish thinly.
Cut the 2 smallest red radishes into halves and wedges, depending on how big they are.
How to Prepare the Tamari Dressing
Peel the ginger. Grate the ginger to yield 1 tsp. Use the finest side of your grater or micro plane.
In a small mixing bowl, add the tamari, rice wine vinegar, grated ginger, Sriracha sauce and caster sugar.
Mix until well combined.
How to Assemble the Salad
Add the red pomelo (excluding the 2 wedges) into the bowl of marinated tuna. Mix well.
Sprinkle ½ tbsp of dried bell pepper mix on one half of the serving plate.
Place the round discs of red radishes on the other side of the plate.
Place the 2 wedges of red pomelo on top of the radish.
Pile the tuna and red pomelo mix on top of the radish. Make sure you can see the 2 pomelo wedges.
Add the wedges or halves of the red radish around the plate. This will give your salad some different shapes and highlights.
Drizzle 2 tbsp of dressing on top of the salad.
Sprinkle the rest of the dried bell pepper mix on top.
Season with pepper.
Variations and Substitutions
Not a fan of raw tuna: If you don’t like tuna, but you like the flavours of this spicy tuna recipe, you can use kingfish or salmon. The same rules apply about getting sashimi-grade fish as you’re eating this raw.
No red pomelo: If you can’t find red pomelo, you can use the white-fleshed pomelo, albeit not as sweet. You can also use ruby red grapefruit, which is perfect for colour, flavour and texture.
No bell pepper mix: You can find dried bell pepper mix in the spice section of your supermarket. If you can’t, you can omit it altogether.
Vegan option: Substitute tuna with firm tofu or tempeh. They will both absorb the spicy Sriracha marinade well. You’ll just have to cook them off by grilling or sautéing before adding to the salad.
Sesame oil: If you don’t like the flavours and smells of sesame oil, olive oil, while not fragrant, will make a suitable substitute.
Great Mains for This Salad
Need some ideas of what to serve with this Spicy Tuna Salad? Try these fantastic recipes:
Lemon garlic shrimp: Let’s make this all all seafood meal by serving this delicious recipe with the spicy tuna salad. This lemon garlic shrimp is perfect dinner recipe that can be served in less than 15 minutes. Perfect for busy days when you are aiming to make fast and easy dinner. And the buttery lemon garlic sauce is sensational.
Honey ginger short ribs: Let’s make this an Asian inspired meal by matching the sriracha marinated raw tuna salad with this short rib recipe. This main recipe is zesty and sweet braised short rib recipe using traditional Asian spices. An easy recipe for fall-off-the-bone ribs.
Lobster fettuccine in herbed cream sauce: This main dish recipe is a restaurant-style dish that’s perfect for a celebratory dinner but easy enough for a delicious weekend meal. Accompany this creamy pasta dish with an equally stylish yet easy to make raw tuna salad with red pomelo that is really refreshing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, tamari sauce is vegan and gluten free as it is made from fermented soybeans.
The origin of spicy Sriracha is a little controversial. Some believe that it is Thai, while others claim that Sriracha is, in fact, either Vietnamese or American.
The original flavours of the Sriracha sauce come from Thailand. In the 1930s, a hot sauce called Sriraja Panich was made from a recipe created by Thanom Chakkapak in Sri Racha.
The famous Huy Fong Sriracha sauce, which everyone is familiar with, was created by a Vietnamese immigrant to the United States. David Tran started this chilli sauce in California and has since become a household name.
So while the recipe came from Thailand, created by a Vietnamese born man, the one we know today is American made.
Made from chilli paste and spices, the famous Huy Fong Sriracha is, in fact, gluten free. According to Huy Fong’s allergen statement, there is no presence of wheat in their ingredients.
By the way, the chilli Sriracha is also delicious!
Yes, spicy Sriracha is vegan. Looking through the allergen statement on the Huy Fong website, there is no presence of milk and dairy products, egg and egg products or fish and shellfish.
Yes, you can prepare all the components of this spicy tuna salad well in advance and then plate them up when you’re ready to eat. It can be served on one platter or served as individually plated appetisers if you prefer.
Don’t let the preparation duration scare you off. All you’re doing is marinating the raw tuna for an hour. The process can’t be any more straightforward, with zero cooking required.
This is the best spicy tuna salad recipe as it is so fresh, and the flavours will just smack your taste buds. Your tuna loving friends and family will enjoy this thoroughly!
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Spicy Tuna Salad and Red Pomelo
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- Cut the tuna steak into small cubes. Marinate it with 2 tbsp tamari, 1 tbsp spicy Sriracha sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil for 1 hour.
- Peel the red pomelo. Try to keep 2 wedges intact when removing them from the inner skin. Peel the rest of the red pomelo away from the thick skin, and we want them loose.
- Using a mandoline, slice 3 of the larger red radish thinly. Cut the 2 smallest radishes into halves and wedges, depending on how big they are.
- Peel the ginger. Grate the ginger to yield 1 tsp.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the tamari, rice wine vinegar, grated ginger, Sriracha sauce and caster sugar.
- Mix until well combined.
- Add the red pomelo (excluding the 2 wedges) into the bowl of marinated tuna. Mix well.
- Sprinkle ½ tbsp of dried bell pepper mix on one half of the serving plate.
- Place the round discs of red radishes on the other side of the plate.
- Place the 2 wedges of red pomelo on top of the radish.
- Pile the tuna and pomelo mix on top of the radish. Make sure you can see the 2 pomelo wedges.
- Add the wedges or halves of the red radish around the plate.
- Drizzle 2 tbsp of dressing on top of the salad.
- Sprinkle the rest of the dried bell pepper mix on top.
- Season with pepper.
- Serve immediately.
- Try and buy sushi-grade tuna steaks. As you’re eating this fish raw, they must be of good quality.
- If you don’t like tuna, but you like the flavours of this recipe, you can use kingfish or salmon. The same rules apply about getting sashimi-grade fish as you’re eating this raw.
- There is no added salt in this recipe as the Sriracha and tamari are salty enough.
- You can find dried bell pepper mix in the spice section of your supermarket. If you can’t, you can omit it altogether.
- You will have leftover dressing. Just place it in a small bowl on the side in case your guests may want more.
- If you can’t find a red pomelo, you can use the yellow pomelo too. The white flesh is not as sweet as the red flesh, but as this recipe has intense umami flavours, it would work just as well. You can also use ruby red grapefruit, which is perfect for colour, flavour and texture.
- For a vegan option, substitute tuna with firm tofu or tempeh. They will both absorb the Sriracha marinade well. You’ll just have to cook them off by grilling or sautéing before adding to the salad.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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