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Pan-Seared Tuna with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

From Barbara Tropp, China Moon Cookbook

Serves: 2-3


  • Marinade
    • 1/2 c. soy sauce
    • 1 tbs. ginger juice
    • 1/4 c. Chinese rice wine or sherry
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 2 tsp. Ma-La Oil, Five-Flavor Oil, or Japanese sesame oil
    • 2 scallions, cut in 1-inch pieces, smashed
  • 1 lb. fresh tuna fillets, cut 1/2-inch thick, in 2.5/3-inch triangular steaks
  • Sauce:
    • 3 med. red bell peppers, roasted, stemmed, peeled, coarsely chopped
    • 3 slices sun-dried tomato, soaked if dried
    • 1.5 tsp. garlic, minced
    • 1/2 c. unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
    • 2 tbs. cider vinegar
    • 1 tbs. sugar
    • 1/4 c. Five-Flavor Oil
    • 1.5 tbs. China Moon Hot Chili Oil
    • 2 tbs. "goop" from China Moon Hot Chili Oil
    • 1 c. packed cilantro, choped
  • corn or peanut oil, for searing
  • Chinese chives, cut into 1/2-inch lengths, for garnish


  1. To roast red bell peppers: Heat oven to 500F. Place peppers on sheet in top third of oven until they blacken and blister, about 15-20 minutes, turning several times. Put blackened peppers into plastic bag; close and let steam for several minutes. Peel peppers, remove stem and seeds, chop coarsely.
  2. Combine marinade ingredients. Marinate tuna for 15 minutes, turning once or twice. Drain and discard marinade.
  3. Make the sauce in a food processor: Add peppers and sun-dried tomatoes; process until smooth. Add garlic, pulse to blend. Add vinegars, sugar, sea salt. With machine running, add oils until sauce emulsifies. Taste and adjust favors as you like. Add cilantro just before serving.
  4. Heat heavy skillet over high heat. Add 1 tbs. corn oil, swirl to glaze pan. When smoking, add tuna steaks in single layer. (Two or more batches, as needed.) Pan-fry until nicely brown, about 30-60 seconds. Turn and cook other side, until seared but still rare inside, about 30 seconds. "Aim to undercook."
  5. Transfer fish to serving plates, overlapping triangles. Top with sauce. Garnish with chives.


  • I made this with about 1.5 lbs. tuna, bought in 1-inch steaks, then split into 1/5-inch. I scaled up the marinade by about 1/3, substituted like crazy, paid scant attention to emulsifying the sauce, and probably overcooked the fish (it was distinctly pink in the center, but not really rare). I forgot the cider vinegar, and omitted the cilantro. It was delicious, nonetheless.
  • Rather than squeezing juice from minced ginger, I just added half a dozen ginger slices, slightly bruised.
  • For Ma-La oil, I substituted Japanese sesame oil. Ma-La oil is a separate recipe: corn and sesame oil infused with scallions, ginger, szechuan peppercorns, and dried chili flakes. Tropp's recipes are full of sub-recipes like these. One of these days I'll get around to experimenting with them.
  • For the hot chili oil and "goop", I substitued Chef Chow's Szechuan Hot Bean Paste, maybe 1/2 tsp.
  • I used scallions for garnish.

Keywords: Chinese, Fish, Tuna.