All Your Tuna Steak Answered: Cooking, Eating Raw, etc.

Because it’s packed with good fats, protein and an assortment of vitamins and minerals, tuna steak is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It’s one of the most delicious, too, whether eaten cooked or raw.

Tuna steak can be eaten raw if it’s meant for consumption as sushi or sashimi. If the packaging says the product is sushi-grade or sashimi-grade, it can be enjoyed without cooking. Otherwise, tuna steak should be cooked to an internal temperature of 140°F to 145°F (60°C to 62.8°C) to kill pathogens.

Wondering how to please your taste buds with raw tuna steak sans risking your health? Don’t stop reading!

Raw Tuna Steak

What Will Happen If You Eat Contaminated Tuna Steak?

The risk may be small for most healthy people if they eat contaminated tuna steak raw. For some, however, the risk can be severe. Foodborne illnesses, which can be obtained from eating raw seafood contaminated with pathogens, can result in severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and others.

Ate raw fish and shellfish before and nothing happened? Maybe your body is capable of tolerating it. Or maybe you just got lucky and what you ate was not contaminated.

But if you don’t want to risk it, never eat seafood raw unless it’s meant to be eaten raw.

Salmonella — it’s one of the most common types of food poisoning caused by bacteria, including those that could be present in tuna steak that’s not sushi-grade or sashimi-grade. If you bought sushi-grade or sashimi-grade tuna steak from a questionable vendor, there is a possibility for the seafood to be contaminated, too.

In many instances, salmonella lasts for four to seven days. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Fever
  • Chills

Some people do not need hospitalization. Others may require medical attention, especially if salmonella is severe.

Besides salmonella, you could also end up with a disease caused by parasites. Different parasites in tuna can cause different signs and symptoms. The severity of signs and symptoms can differ, too, depending on the parasite ingested. The risk of parasitic infection from raw tuna steak will depend on where tuna was caught and how it was handled.

The good news is that parasites can be killed by cooking. Some can be killed by freezing.

How Should You Cook Tuna Steak to Avoid Health Problems?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the internal temperature of tuna steak should be anywhere from 140°F to 145°F (60°C to 62.8°C). This should be enough to kill pathogens present, if any, and thus lower one’s risk of ending up with a foodborne illness from seafood.

Bacteria and parasites — these are the reasons why it’s not a good idea to consume tuna steak raw unless the packaging says that it can be eaten without cooking it beforehand as it’s sushi-grade or sashimi-grade.

The good news is that these microscopic critters die when exposed to high temperatures.

It’s because of this why you should cook tuna steak before consuming it, particularly if it’s not meant to be eaten raw. But refrain from assuming that exposing the product to just about any heat will get it from tainted to decontaminated. For pathogens to die, tuna steak should be cooked at the right temperature.

Regardless if you prefer tuna steak fried, grilled, broiled or baked, make sure that its internal temperature reaches 140°F to 145°F, which is the recommendation of the USDA.

Love your tuna steak close to medium but hate putting your health at risk? No worries!

You can kill anything that you don’t want to end up in your bloodstream using heat and still enjoy tuna steak the way you like it: medium-rare, which is also how seasoned chefs like to do it.


Instead of cooking tuna steak to an internal temperature mentioned above, aim for an internal temperature of about 125°F (51.7°C).

How Do You Freeze Tuna Steak the Right Way?

Freezing tuna steak helps extend its shelf life to two to three months. However, it can still be consumed beyond that date. Besides keeping it in good quality for a long time, freezing tuna steak also helps kill some pathogens present, although storing the product in the freezer correctly is vital.

The best time to freeze tuna steak is as soon as you get home from the supermarket.

However, it’s also possible to cut up tuna steak into smaller chunks first, depending on your personal preference and the dishes you will eventually be cooking with the aquatic treat.

But there is a right way to go about this. Making sure that you take the correct steps is important if you want tuna steak to remain in excellent condition in the freezer for several months. Storing tuna steak in the freezer in the proper manner also helps kill some of the pathogens, which makes it suitable for raw consumption.

The following are the steps to take:

  • Thoroughly rinse tuna steak under running water.
  • Gently pat dry using a clean kitchen towel or some paper towels.
  • Chop up tuna steak into sizes of your liking.
  • Place small batches of tuna into freezer-safe ziploc bags.
  • Label and add the date.

By the way, consider placing ziploc bags with tuna steak in a large ziploc bag. This will help keep other food items in the freezer from being contaminated with the unmistakable smell of fish.

What’s the Proper Way to Thaw Frozen Tuna Steak?

Frozen tuna steak can be thawed in a couple of ways. First, allow tuna steak to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours. Second, submerge tuna steak in room-temperature water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Thawed tuna steak should be cooked unless it’s sushi-grade or sashimi-grade.

Storing tuna steak in the freezer the right way for extending the shelf life and getting rid of some contaminants is one thing. Thawing tuna steak from the freezer the correct way is another.

Especially if frozen tuna steak is sushi-grade or sashimi-grade, thawing it properly is a definite must.

Otherwise, you are risking allowing disease- and infection-causing microorganisms to flourish in your tuna steak while waiting for it to be thawed. And if you eat fully thawed tuna steak raw, even if it’s manufactured to be consumed raw, you could wind up having all sorts of digestive issues, which, if severe, could warrant a trip to the doctor’s office.

Refrigerator thawing

As the name suggests, refrigerator thawing entails transferring tuna steak from the freezer to the refrigerator. This is something you should do at least half a day before planning on enjoying tuna steak.

That’s because thawing frozen tuna steak can take up to 12 hours to complete, depending on the quantity and size of each tuna steak piece. But what’s nice about refrigerator thawing is that you can forget about it (well, until it’s time to do some culinary magic in the kitchen) as tuna steak is safe inside the fridge.

To thaw frozen tuna in the refrigerator, place it on a shallow dish lined with paper towels. There is no need to remove tuna steak from its original packaging or ziploc bag. If you see water pooling on the dish, replace wet paper towels with new ones to keep the inside of the fridge from flooding.

It’s on the bottom shelf where frozen tuna is best thawed in the refrigerator.

Cold-water thawing

If you are in a rush to enjoy tuna steak, cold-water thawing is what you need to do. That’s because it allows frozen tuna steak to thaw so much faster than refrigerator thawing.

While it yields results faster, cold-water thawing requires considerably more work!

To get started, place frozen tuna steak in a large bowl without removing it from its original packaging or ziploc bag. Fill the bowl with room-temperature water until tuna steak is completely submerged. Leave the bowl in the sink, on a countertop, or where your pack of tuna steak is safe.

After 30 minutes, replace water. You will have to keep doing this until frozen tuna steak is completely thawed. As a general rule of thumb, a pound of tuna steak takes about 30 minutes to thaw.

raw tuna steak
Raw tuna steak


Is Tuna Steak Good for You?

What makes tuna steak healthy is the fact that it has zero carbohydrates and is low in calories — a 142-gram serving only has 184 calories. Tuna steak is high in top-quality protein, too. It’s also an excellent source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, that may help lower stroke, heart attack and heart disease risk.

Can You Eat Tuna Steak Raw?

Some tuna steaks are meant to be cooked. Other tuna steaks can be served raw, particularly the sushi-grade or sashimi-grade varieties. If the packaging doesn’t say that the product is sushi-grade or sashimi-grade, it’s a good idea to cook tuna steak very well beforehand in order to keep health-related issues at bay.

Why Can You Eat Tuna Raw?

Tuna, in particular the sushi-grade or sashimi-grade, can be eaten raw. That’s because it’s bled and gutted immediately after being captured. Afterward, it’s iced thoroughly. The process sushi-grade or sashimi-grade goes through helps prevent contamination. Freezing uncontaminated tuna beforehand increases safety.

What Does Raw Tuna Taste Like?

Surprisingly, raw tuna doesn’t have a fishy taste as one would imagine. Raw tuna has a mild and tender taste, which some people find close to the taste of cooked steak. The texture of raw tuna is firm but not chewy. As for the smell, fresh raw tuna boasts of a sea-air smell rather than a strong fishy odor.

Can All Tuna Be Eaten Raw?

Not all tuna products can be eaten raw. Some of them may be contaminated with pathogens and parasites that can cause food poisoning and various food-borne diseases. In order to be safe, only sushi-grade or sashimi-grade tuna should be consumed without cooking beforehand. Handling them properly is a must, too.

Can You Freeze Tuna Steak?

Freezing tuna steak is perfectly fine in order to keep it in good condition longer. In its original packaging, tuna steak can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. It will remain safe to eat beyond that time, although it will gradually lose quality. Tuna steak that’s been opened should be placed in a freezer-safe container or ziploc bag beforehand.

Can You Eat Frozen Tuna Raw?

It’s safe to eat frozen tuna without cooking it beforehand if it’s the sushi-grade or sashimi-grade variety. It’s also of utmost importance to make sure that sushi-grade or sashimi-grade tuna is handled properly between removing it from its original packaging to placing it in the freezer in order to avoid contaminating it.

fried tuna steak in black sesame
fried tuna steak in black sesame

How to Thaw Sushi-Grade Tuna

Frozen sushi-grade or sashimi-grade tuna should be thawed properly, especially if they are going to be eaten raw. It should be rinsed under running cold water and wrapped in a clean cloth that’s been soaked in saltwater.

Frozen sushi-grade or sashimi-grade tuna should then be placed in a bowl and allowed to thaw in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours.

How to Defrost Tuna Steak Quickly

Tuna steak that’s been stored in the freezer and will be cooked can be defrosted quickly. It should be placed in a ziploc bag, with as much air squeezed out of it before sealing. The bag should then be immersed in a large bowl of cold water. The cold water in the bowl should be changed every 10 minutes for faster defrosting.

How Long Does Tuna Steak Last in the Fridge?

While raw tuna steak can be stored in the refrigerator, it should be consumed within 1 to 2 days. Marinating raw tuna steak in lemon juice or diluted vinegar can help it keep in the fridge for up to a couple of days longer. Cooked tuna steak, meanwhile, can last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Raw tuna steak is best stored in the freezer.

What Does Bad Raw Tuna Look Like?

Raw tuna that’s in excellent condition is either light pink or deep red in color. On the other hand, raw tuna that’s already bad has a milky white color. In some instances, it may also have dark-brown to black areas. Yellow or green discoloration as well as the presence of slime and mold means that raw tuna should be disposed of.

How to Tell If Tuna Steak is Bad

The best way to tell if tuna steak is already bad is by looking at and smelling it. Bad tuna steak usually has dark-brown or black streaks. In some instances, it may turn green, often with some slime on the surface. Tuna steak that’s bad often has a sour smell, which is usually enough to fill the kitchen or any enclosed area with its stench.

Is Tuna in a Can Cooked or Raw?

The vast majority of canned tuna products available at grocery stores are already cooked. Manufacturers of canned tuna cook tuna before they are canned in order to kill any microorganisms that can shorten the shelf life. Not cooking tuna prior to canning will cause it to go bad while inside the can, making it unfit for storing and consumption.

Can You Eat Tuna Straight Out of the Can?

Because canned tuna is cooked, it’s safe to eat it straight out of the can. Most of them require a little seasoning because of their bland taste, especially those that are canned in water or vegetable oil. Some canned tuna these days are already seasoned and flavored, such as those that are manufactured as salad or rice toppers.

Grilled tuna steak with wakame salad
Grilled tuna steak with wakame salad

Tuna Steak Internal Temperature

When cooking tuna steak, no matter the method of preference, always check that the internal temperature reaches 140°F to 145°F (60°C to 62.8°C). The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that this is the minimum temperature needed in order to kill any pathogens in tuna steak that can cause food poisoning.

How Long Do You Broil Tuna Steaks?

Tuna steaks that are about an inch thick can be broiled in 10 minutes or less. Broiling tuna steaks longer than 10 minutes can cause them to dry out and thus wind up crumbly and chewy. For as long as the recommended minimum internal temperature is reached, one can have peace of mind when eating broiled tuna steaks.

Can You Eat Tuna Rare?

Eating tuna rare is safe only if the packaging says sushi-grade or sashimi-grade and it’s been handled properly. It may also be eaten rare after it’s been deep-frozen, which can kill some of the disease-causing pathogens and parasites that may be present in it. Still, eating frozen tuna rare isn’t totally risk-free

How to Cook Ahi Tuna Fillet

Ahi tuna fillet is meant to be pan-seared. To go about this, ahi tuna fillet should be seared in a non-stick pan for 45 seconds without moving it. The heat should then be reduced to medium to allow ahi tuna fillet to cook for 1 1/2 minutes more. Ahi tuna fillet should then be flipped to allow the other side to cook for around 2 minutes.

Is tuna steak good for weight loss?

Tuna steak contains absolutely no carbohydrates, which makes it ideal for people who are on a low-carb or the ketogenic or keto diet. On the other hand, it’s high in good quality protein (a 142-gram serving of tuna steak packs 41 grams of protein) that helps build lean muscles and speed up the metabolic rate.

Can dogs eat tuna steak?

Many dog foods actually contain fish. However, since tuna is known to be high in mercury compared to most other fish, it’s a good idea to keep the consumption of dogs of tuna steak to a minimum. Some symptoms of mercury poisoning in dogs include hair loss, tremors, loss of coordination and kidney damage.

Does vinegar kill pathogens in tuna steak?

Vinegar is known to have antimicrobial properties. As a matter of fact, it can help prevent the spread of some foodborne illnesses. Unfortunately, vinegar is not capable of killing all pathogens known to man, including some of those that can be found in contaminated tuna steak.

Can you eat canned tuna without cooking it first?

It’s perfectly fine to eat canned tuna straight from the can. That’s because the canning process exposes tuna to heat high enough to cook it. In some instances, canned tuna is not the best tuna for cooking. Because it’s already cooked, it could end up overcooked when used as an ingredient.

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