How Do I Choose the Best Ahi Tuna Marinade?

Kris Gaines

Marinating meats is one of the best ways to add strong flavor and easily tenderize the meat before cooking it. Fish such as ahi tuna is no exception. There are many different kinds of marinades that are available for purchase or can be easily made from scratch at home, so you will need to decide which type you prefer. Another thing to consider when choosing ahi tuna marinade is the types of food and drinks that you will be pairing with the ahi tuna.

Asian marinades for ahi tuna often feature ginger and sesame oil.
Asian marinades for ahi tuna often feature ginger and sesame oil.

Tuna, like most fish, should be marinated for only about an hour to prevent any chemical reactions or the like. Most marinades feature an acidic ingredient like vinegar or wine to help soften the food. This allows the food to absorb more flavor.

Cracked black pepper is often used in ahi tuna marinade.
Cracked black pepper is often used in ahi tuna marinade.

There are four main types of ahi tuna marinade. The most common is a tangy, lemon type with strong seasonings and spices such as garlic and black pepper. These types work best for fish that is going to be served with pasta or wine. Some people like to add white wine to add to these slightly bitter marinades because it provides a strong flavor and plenty of acid to help get the job done.

The second most common type of ahi tuna marinade could be called savory. These marinades have robust spices that infuse the fish with a sort of smoky or steak-like taste. For marinades such as this, less-acidic ingredients are used, and spices such as salt, pepper and the like are added in large amounts. These marinades often feature water as the main ingredient as well as strong chili pepper or hot sauces. Savory marinades work best when paired with vegetables.

Another common type of ahi tuna marinade is the sweet variety, which are often called Asian marinades and feature ingredients such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, ginger and sesame oil, but they often are made with barbecue sauce as well. To be sure that your sweet marinade doesn't become too salty, add small amounts of soy sauce or salt a little bit at a time. Another common ingredient in these ahi tuna marinades is orange juice, because it provides the acid that is needed to help the fish absorb the flavor but doesn't have a sharp, tangy taste. These types of marinades compliment rice and other bland foods very well.

The final and most basic type of ahi tuna marinade is a dry marinade. This type of mixture can be found at most local grocers and is simply rubbed on the skin of the fish and allowed to sit for a few hours. Dry marinades do not feature acidic ingredients, so they can be left overnight, which is most often recommended. Many companies offer a variety of these marinade rubs for all sorts of meats. Look for these pre-made rubs at your local store or try mixing some of your favorite spices together at home.

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