Tataki-zuke and Goma-ae Fusion: Skipjack Tuna with Sesame Spinach Delight

Tataki is a Japanese cooking technique used primarily for seafood, particularly fish. The term “tataki” means “to hit” or “to strike” in Japanese, which refers to the process of quickly searing the fish or meat on high heat and then immediately cooling it.

To prepare tataki, a fillet or a piece of fish, such as tuna or salmon, is briefly seared on a hot pan or grill. The fish is typically seasoned with salt and pepper or marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and other ingredients before cooking. The goal is to sear the outer layer of the fish while leaving the center raw or rare.

After searing, the fish is rapidly cooled by placing it in an ice bath or by chilling it in the refrigerator. Cooling the fish stops the cooking process, preserving the tender and delicate texture of the raw or rare center while creating a contrast with the slightly charred outer layer.

Once cooled, the fish is thinly sliced and often served with various accompaniments and dipping sauces. Common garnishes include shredded daikon radish, sliced scallions, grated ginger, and citrus-based sauces like ponzu.

Tataki is appreciated for its combination of flavors, textures, and visual appeal. The searing imparts a smoky flavor and caramelization, while the center remains fresh and tender. It is often served as an appetizer or part of a larger Japanese meal.



  • 200 grams of bonito or skipjack tuna fillets (can also use other fish like salmon)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Thinly sliced scallions (green onions) for garnish


  1. Prepare the marinade by combining soy sauce, mirin, sake, grated ginger, and sesame oil in a bowl. Mix well.

  2. Heat a skillet or grill pan over high heat. Lightly sear the tuna fillets on each side for about 15-30 seconds, just until the outer layer is lightly browned. The center should remain raw or rare.

  3. Remove the seared tuna from the heat and let it cool slightly.

  4. Once cooled, slice the tuna into thin pieces and place them in a shallow dish.

  5. Pour the marinade over the sliced tuna, ensuring it is fully coated. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.

  6. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions before serving.

Note: The serving size for this recipe can vary depending on whether you’re serving it as an appetizer or a side dish. As an appetizer, the Tataki-zuke and Goma-ae recipe should serve approximately 2 to 4 people. If you’re serving it as a side dish alongside other main courses, it can serve 4 to 6 people. Adjust the quantities accordingly based on your specific needs and the portion sizes you prefer.

This said, Tataki-zuke is typically served as an appetizer or side dish. The tangy and savory marinade enhances the flavors of the seared fish, creating a delicious balance of taste and textures. It can be enjoyed on its own or accompanied by “Goma-ae,” which is a Japanese spinach salad with sesame dressing. The nutty flavor of the sesame pairs well with the flavors of the Tataki-zuke.

Here’s a recipe for Goma-ae:


  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach and blanch it for about 1-2 minutes until it wilts.

  2. Drain the spinach and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process.

  3. Squeeze out any excess water from the spinach and roughly chop it into bite-sized pieces.

  4. In a mortar and pestle or a grinder, grind the toasted sesame seeds until they become a coarse powder.

  5. In a small bowl, combine the ground sesame seeds, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sesame oil. Mix well to form a smooth dressing.

  6. Add the chopped spinach to the dressing and toss until the spinach is evenly coated.

  7. Transfer the Goma-ae to a serving dish and garnish with a sprinkle of additional sesame seeds, if desired.

The Goma-ae can be served alongside the Tataki-zuke, offering a refreshing and nutritious contrast. The vibrant green spinach and rich sesame flavors make it a delightful accompaniment to the seared fish.


Until Next Time… Be Well!


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