Smoking Tuna – A Smoked Tuna Guide

smoked tuna steak

When it comes to Tuna steaks, they are a super versatile slices of meat that all the family can enjoy. It doesn’t have the that overpowering fishy smell that you would expect and even the feel doesn’t seem fish-like at all, unlike other fish steaks you can purchase.

Smoked Tuna

The fact is that most people who tend to avoid seafood normally will choose to have tuna if it is available on the menu, due to the texture and taste.

Actually cooking the steaks, the meat is perfect for grabbing your favorite grill to either grill, blacken or even broil your tuna. It is a fantastic source of protein and knowing how to smoke tuna is one of the best ways to eat it.

Although smoking the tuna may sound a little odd at first, smoking this type of fish is almost a similar method to smoking any other kind of meat. Like smoking beef, chicken or even pork. The steps to complete this are almost identical, you need to gather some initial ingredients and allow time for the meat to marinade in the brine.

The only major difference between the tuna steaks and other forms of meat is the amount of time it needs to cook.

With the smoking time for fish being a lot less than when smoking other meats, which is what makes this a simple and quick dish to serve to your friends and family. The idea is that this method can be started just before your guests arrive and they can eat just shortly after arriving. The idea is that you should have both a savoury and a sweet combination for your smoked tuna, but nothing that is too overpowering.

Below is a step-by-step guide which will help you to learn how to smoke tuna, beginning from choosing the best possible slices, right up to serving and eating you delicious meat.


Choosing The Best Tuna For Smoking

Ahi Tuna

When you are looking for a smoking meat or even fish, your selection of both your meat type and category will make a big difference. This is the same when it comes to tuna, if you are looking for great results then you will need to choose the best type for smoking.

So what is the best type of tuna for smoking? Well, that would be Ahi Tuna. It is not only a high quality cut, but it will turn out delicious if you do bring it into your smoker.

The second choice would be Yellowfin Tuna, being just as good as Ahi Tuna when it comes to smoking the meat but it is a little less quality in comparison.

These are two of the best choices if you are looking for the best cuts of Tuna for smoking.

When looking at the most ideal thing to use, you can always get some advice from your butcher about both the freshness and the quality. Having a good relationship with your butcher will help you hugely when it comes to selecting the right meat for when you are ready to start cooking.

What You Will Need To Smoke The Tuna

There are a small amount of ingredients and tools that you will need when you are going to be smoking tuna. See the list below:

Required Ingredients and Tools

  • 10-12 Ounce Tuna Steaks Ideally for each person. (We are going to be using 6 steaks)
  • Of course, you’re going to need a Smoker (We are going to use an offset smoker, but if you have any smoker that will be able to regulate temperature then that will work just as well)
  • 3-4 Pieces Of Fruit Wood, Either Peach or Cherry will work great
  • 2 Ziplock Resealable Bags
  • Brine – 2 Quarters Of Water, Half a Cup of Kosher Salt, Quarter Cup Of Brown Sugar, A small amount of Sprigs Of Rosemary and a Tablespoon of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper (Light Seasoning)
  • Three Cups Of White Wine
  • A Single Tablespoon Of Olive Oil

How To Smoke Tuna

So now we can begin by preparing, brining and then smoking the tuna steaks:

Preparing The Tuna For Smoking

The initial step is to ensure that you have prepared the fish correctly.

Begin by adding all the brine ingredients in the list above into a bowl. Then you can take each tuna steak and dip it in the brine, making sure that you coat each of the steak thoroughly, this will ensure that you receive maximum flavor.

Once you have finished placing in the steaks to the brine, you will need to place 3 steaks into each of the Ziplock bags and then pour the remaining mixture of brine into the bags. Put your bags inside the refrigerator for around 2-3 hours and allow for the bring to marinate the fish fully before removing.

The subtle flavors which will come from the brine will help to compliment the meat when you have finished cooking.

Things like garlic or ginger work great for the grill, but in order to have a more smoky and rich taste for your tuna then we recommend not using these type of herbs and spices which offer more of a kick than is required.

Once you know that your fish is starting to be ready, you can start getting your smoker ready for cooking.

Getting Your Smoker Prepared

Begin by lighting your first. The best way we find is to use a piece of charcoal inside of the charcoal chimney. This will help to get the fire burning without using any lighter fluid which will give a nasty taste to your food.

Once the charcoal has turned a white/grey color, you can begin to place a log of peach wood onto the fire.

The idea is to have your smoker at a temperature that is between 190 Fahrenheit to 200 Fahrenheit. The reason behind putting your log on now is that you will be able to better regulate the temperature and increase the smoke, then you will be ready to place your fish onto the grill.

Make sure that your smoking chamber where you will be placing the fish into is filled up.

Once the fire has been prepared, it is time to remove the tuna from the Ziplock bags and begin the smoking process.

Begin Smoking Tuna

Smoking Tuna

First thing to do is lay then steaks out onto either a paper towel or a kitchen towel and dry them off.

There may be some salt or sugar that remains once you have tried drying them, but that is normal and shouldn’t be worried about.

Once you have the steaks completely dry it is time to coat both sides evenly with some olive oil. A thin layer is what you need hear, with just about enough so that you are able to sprinkle on the black pepper and for it to remain on the steak during cooking.

Ensuring that your smoker is now at the correct temperature, you can lay your brined tuna steaks on to the grill. You should avoid using a pan, as you will want the tuna to absorb the smoke from every side. If you were to use a pan or foil even, it would stop this from happening which will detract from the end flavors.

Ensure that you are regularly checking your grill thermometer and are making sure that the temperature is remaining around the ideal 190-200 Fahrenheit, as we want the meat to be smoked perfectly.

Some smoker models give a higher temperature read out on your smoking rig, this should be double checked as it could give you a false sense of hope when you are smoking the fish.

Quick Kitchen Tip: When you are smoking both fish and meat, it is important that you keep your meat far away from your fire box if you are using an offset cooker. This will help to remove the meat from being affected by the flare ups from the fire. It will also allow some space for you to place down a liquid bath which will help to keep the meats moist whilst being smoked. Meats that are further away from the heat source will cook through consistently whilst they are going through the smoking process.

You should by now have your fish smoking nicely on your grill or smoker.

We suggest having a small and cheap foil pan which will hold the white wine you need. Also, add in the sprigs of rosemary or fresh rosemary, either will work great and add them into the wine bath within the foil pan.

When positioning this bath, make sure that it is between the fire and the fish. This will help to keep the meat moist and add more flavor with both the win and the rosemary. It won’t be an overpowering flavor but it will add a hint to the meat overall.

Ensure that you watch the temperature of your fire and don’t allow it to get out of control, as the wine bath you have placed inside will run dry and this will cause a nasty taste after you have finished cooking.

Properly Maintaining Your Fire

Properly Maintaining Your Fire

Checking your temperature and controlling your fire is extremely important if you are cooking any kind of delicate meat or fish.

If the fire gets below 190 Fahrenheit then simply add another log to increase the temperature but, if the fire is over 200 Fahrenheit then you need to choke the fire within the fire box for a brief moment to allow the temperature to drop.

If it is too out of control, the you will want to choke off the firebox at the smoke stack, but ensure that you are keeping watch of the first whilst doing this as if you leave it choking too long you will cause the first to die out. This will leave a bad soot taste to the fish.

With around 2 hours of keeping a constant temperature, you can take a look under the hood and see at the masterpiece you have created. You will notice that there is a color transformation happening which is a good indicator.

Take out your hand thermometer and check the meats internal temperature, make sure that you are entering the meat at the center point. The temperature you are looking for is around 140 Fahrenheit, if you are not close to this just yet, close the hood and give it another 30 minutes and try again.

Once your tuna steaks have hit this temperature, remove it from the smoker. There should be a flakiness to the meat, this is the number one sign that you have the best smoked tuna.

Serving The Smoked Tuna

Once you have perfectly smoked your fish and have removed it from your smoker, it is time to get that delicious looking meat onto a serving plate.

We are going to let you know our secret but favorite combination and we really think you will love it too.

We always have our smoked tuna with grilled tomatoes, a leafy green salad, grilled squash and of course garlic bread.

For the beverage we suggest a moscato wine, pale ale or if you not wanting anything alcoholic you can simply pair it with a lemon or lime sparkling water. Either way they all help add to the flavor of this wonderful meat.

Finished Product & Final Thoughts

Smoked Tuna Served

After following all the steps above, your family and friends are going to be impressed with this delicious fish.

Smoking this type of fish isn’t as hard as you may think, the steps are very similar to smoking any other type of meat with the only difference being the smoking time and temperature.

We really hope that you have enjoyed and learned how to smoke tuna. Go ahead, enjoy your creation.

P.S. Don’t forget to share with your friends and family. If you want to learn more about our recipes then click here.