I’m a big fan of tuna and that’s as true on the grill in summer as under the broiler in midwinter. Usually I turn to tapenade (an olive/caper medley processed into a paste) as a topping, but I was ready for something different.

I found that in “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader. He prepares the tuna with some heat — four kinds of peppercorns, plus hot pepper flakes for an extra level of spice.

If you don’t have time to run around looking for different peppercorns, feel free to use whatever you have in the pantry. That said, the different colored peppercorns each offers a slight change of flavor and aroma. Szechuan peppercorns (which are very fragrant) are the ones that may be more difficult to find; Penzeys’ stores carry them locally.

It’s a snap to make the rub and pat it on the tuna before grilling. But say you want to branch out a bit more on the dinner menu.

You can make a compound butter with green onions to use as a dollop on the finished tuna. And for only another moment of your time, you can add green onions to the grilled mix. With this combo, dinner will look as pretty as it is flavorful.

The key to grilling tuna is to pay attention when it’s on the heat. The fish cooks quickly — it’s best served rare to medium — and even a minor distraction can leave you with a dried-out main course. Now that’s a fish tale you don’t want to tell.


Lee Svitak Dean is the Star Tribune’s Taste editor. Reach her at lee.dean@startribune.com

Tuna Pepper Steak With Smashed Green Onion Butter

Serves 4.

Note: Keep your tuna icy cold before grilling; this will keep the flesh firm. Plan the timing so you can soak the green onions for 30 minutes before putting them over the heat. From “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader.

• Smashed Green Onion Butter (see recipe)

• 1 to 2 bunches green onions, trimmed (bigger onions work better)

• 1 tbsp. cracked black peppercorns

• 1 tbsp. cracked Szechuan peppercorns

• 2 tsp. cracked green peppercorns

• 2 tsp. cracked white peppercorns

• 2 tsp. cracked coriander seeds

• 1 tsp. hot pepper flakes

• 1 tsp. kosher salt

• 1 tsp. brown sugar

• 4 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 tbsp. soy sauce

• 3 tbsp. olive oil

• 4 tuna steaks (each about 6 oz.), cut 1 1/2 in. thick

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Prepare the Smashed Green Onion Butter. Soak the green onions for about 30 minutes in cold water.

To make the peppercorn rub: In a bowl, mix together the four peppercorns, coriander, hot pepper flakes, kosher salt and brown sugar. Add the garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Stir to make a pepper slurry and set aside.

To prepare the tuna: Fire up the grill to 550 to 650 degrees.

Rub the tuna steaks with the pepper rub, pressing the seasoning into the flesh so that it adheres.

Grill the tuna steaks for 1 to 2 minutes per side, directly over the hot flame for rare. It won’t take long. Remember that the more done the tuna is, the drier it becomes. Rare to medium is the usual recommendation.

While grilling the tuna, add the green onions to the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning until lightly charred and tender, yet still bright green. Season with a little salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from grill.

Remove tuna from grill. Serve immediately with a dollop of Smashed Green Onion Butter and grilled green onions on the side.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 485 Fat 30 g Sodium 830 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 11 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 42 g Cholesterol 95 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ carb, 6 lean protein, 3 ½ fat.


Smashed Green Onion Butter

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Note: From “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader.

• 4 green onions

• Kosher salt to taste

• 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1 shallot, finely chopped

• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

• 1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, softened


Place the green onions onto a cutting board. Take a heavy-bottomed frying pan and smash them. You want them to split apart to extract their juices. Roughly chop them up and place in a bowl. Season the smashed onions with a little kosher salt and the lemon juice. Add the shallot, cilantro and softened butter. Mix it up with a spoon to incorporate, or use an electric mixer to do so.

Transfer to a small bowl and set aside, or place mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into the dimensions of a stick of butter. (Store in the refrigerator if not using that day.)