Should Tuna Steaks Sit Out Before Cooking?

Raw tuna steaks on wooden board
Raw tuna steaks on wooden board - Da-kuk/Getty Images

Seared tuna steaks are ideal for a quick meal. Pop some rice and chopped veggies in the rice cooker to accompany the tuna and you'll have a delicious, balanced dinner ready to eat in no time.

There is one important thing to keep in mind, however. And that's that tuna steaks, like all meat, need to sit out for a little bit before you get to cooking them. This isn't a step that you want to skip as it will affect the end result even more so than with beef or pork due to the short cooking time. While it's understandable if you're feeling concerned about food safety, there's actually no need to worry. It won't take too long to bring the fish to room temperature -- which is necessary for properly cooked tuna steaks -- far less time than the maximum of two hours allowed by the USDA anyway.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

How To Make Sure Tuna Steaks Get To Room Temperature

Seasoned tuna steak cooked rare
Seasoned tuna steak cooked rare - Bhofack2/Getty Images

So how long should tuna steaks be left out? At a minimum, you'll want to remove them from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you're going to toss them in the pan or on the grill. That's enough time for them to reach room temperature. Coincidentally, 20 minutes will also time perfectly with the rice cooker (if you go that route) so that by the time you're done searing the steaks everything should be ready to eat at roughly the same time. You can also take advantage of this time to allow the tuna to marinate if you didn't do so beforehand.

If you're wondering why tuna steaks would need to get to room temperature before cooking, it's very simple. As with other meats, even on high heat a cold center won't warm in the time that it takes to sear the outside, particularly if you prefer to serve your tuna steaks rare. So while tuna steaks are ideally cooked to rare or even left raw in the middle, the meat should still be slightly warm all the way through by the time it's removed from the stove or grill. As you can imagine, biting into cold tuna isn't very appetizing.

Tuna Is Prone To Drying Out When It's Cooked Wrong

Sliced tuna steak and salad
Sliced tuna steak and salad - AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

Tuna has particularly oily flesh, even for a fish. At the same time, it is also a very lean fish. While the oil gives tuna steaks their flavor, it also cooks out quickly. Together with the low fat content, this can lead to a disappointingly dry texture if it's cooked too long. This is exactly why most people prefer their tuna rare to uncooked in the center. Anything beyond medium rare can just be too dry, so aim for an internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit at most (assuming the steaks were frozen first to kill parasites, per the FDA). Different recipes call for different final temperatures, and the FDA suggests a slightly higher 145 degrees Fahrenheit as the minimum temperature for finned fish, but we think this will be a little overdone.

This ideal quick cooking time is all the more reason why it's so important to allow tuna steaks to reach room temperature before they're cooked. Assuming you've done this, one to two minutes on both sides will be enough to get a nice sear and a warm but not cooked center. But if you don't let them get to room temp first the outside will end up dry and overcooked by the time the middle is warm enough to be palatable.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.