Barbecued Grilled Tuna Steak Recipe, Spice-Crusted with Tahini Sauce

Tuna is an excellent option for grilled or barbecued fish because it is thick, oily and has firm white flesh that holds together well when being cooked. Swordfish, salmon and even mackerel and mullet are also suitable. No batter is used and so excess oil in the fish tends to drain when the fish is being cooked. This recipe uses a spice coating or rub on both cooked surfaces that brown and cooks to a firm crust that adds flavor and texture.

There is also a light tahini sauce that pairs well with grilled fish because it does not overpower the delicate flavor of the fish.


juice of 2 lemons
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of good quality tahini
grilled vegetables and salad to serve
1 garlic clove, peeled and fishing chopped or crushed
4 x 150 g tuna loin steaks (other other large, white fleshed fish such as swordfish, snapper)

Ingredients for the Spice Crust

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ras el hanout (Moroccan Spice mix see recipe below)

Ingredients for Moroccan ras el hanout (Simply grind all ingredients together)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 whole cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns


Prepare your griller or barbecue for grilling the fish over high heat (charcoal, gas, wood fire with flames).

Make the spice mixture for the crust coating, by first grinding the cumin, coriander and sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle. Add the ras el hanout (see recipe above) and grind again. Spread the powdered spices over a chopping board, or a baking tray and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and salt.

Next, make the dressing by adding the chopped garlic and some extra salt to the mortar and grind again until well mixed. Then add the tahini and a little water and grind to form a paste with the consistency of thick pouring cream. Add extra water as required. Add the juice of one lemon, olive oil and adjust the seasoning with extra lemon, pepper and salt as required. Transfer the dressing mixture to small jug or bowl

Dry the tuna steaks well. Then rub all surfaces with lemon juice. Push all surfaces of the tuna steaks into the spice mixture. Rub to ensure the steaks are well coated on both sides with a coating that sticks. Transfer the tuna steaks to the barbecue or griller grate and cook on both sides until the tuna is medium-rare and the crust has nicely browned and become crisp. Watch the color of the fish change from red to white on the edges. Turn and cook the other side. Aim for medium-rare with the fish just barely cooked in the center of the steak.  

Remove the tuna from the grill when cooked. Drizzle  the fish steaks with the tahini dressing and some fresh herbs and serve immediately.