Seared Otoro Tuna (Aburi Toro) 炙りとろ

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Seared Tuna Sashimi (Aburi Toro) Recipe |

Have you tried otoro sushi (super fatty tuna belly sushi)? This well-marbled fatty tuna literary melts in your mouth like butter when prepared correctly. My husband and my favorite sushi restaurant always prepares otoro sushi in two ways for us, one regular and one seared and topped with yuzu extract. We had been thinking that we should prepare seared tuna on our own since we bought a culinary torch last year with attempt to make crème brûlée (but haven’t had a chance yet). We finally made it so I want to share how to prepare this super easy seared otoro with you today.

Seared Tuna IIToro refers the lowest section of the tuna belly and there’s only a small portion per tuna so they are usually quite pricey. For this recipe we purchased the otoro from our local Japanese market for $59.99/lb. Typically toro is classified into otoro (super fatty tuna belly) and chutoro (medium fatty tuna belly). Compared to maguro (tuna sashimi), toro is usually much lighter in color due to the high fat content. Not all Japanese restaurants in the US actually offer authentic otoro. Quite a few times I’ve been to Japanese restaurants where they tried passing off albacore tuna as their toro sushi.

I need to emphasize here that this won’t really work with regular tuna sashimi due to the low fat content. Make sure when you are ready to enjoy your otoro, take out from the fridge until it warms up close to room temperature. As it warms up, the fat liquefies and it was interesting see how they catch on fire when searing with a blow torch. Enjoy and have fun searing!

Seared Tuna III

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Seared Tuna Sashimi (Aburi Toro)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Depends on the amount of sashimi
  1. With a very sharp knife, slice sashimi into ⅜ inch slices. You don’t want it too thin or else the torch will cook through the entire slice.
  2. Cover a plate with aluminum foil and place the sashimi slices on top. Start blowing torch until top is lightly brown. The goal is for lightly searing outside but still raw on the inside.
  3. Serve on a plate and sprinkle with green onion. Dip in yuzu to eat.
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  1. Oh my goodness…I’m drooling over this! I love otoro, especially charred ones with yuzu! You can really taste the sweetness from the fish and they just melt in your mouth! Thanks for sharing the idea of making these at home. :)

  2. Wow that looks good! I’m thinking I want sushi for dinner tonight now! I’ve only heard of tuna sashimi for sushi. My husband used to live in Japan for several years before we met, so I’ll have to ask him if he’s had this type of tuna. It kind of sounds like pork belly or bacon, where the fat almost melts in your mouth.
    Oh and I had to laugh about the torch. I few years ago I bought one to make creme brule too. I even bought a creme brule cookbook along with it. I only made it once (but it was good.) I had to get rid of the torch coming here though, as I didn not think it would make it past customs.
    The tuna looks perfectly caramelized!

  3. Oh God yes – I’ve tried it when I visited Japan some time ago. Sinfully good! You know, it never occurred to me that it was seared with a blow-torch though. That makes me really want to get one now, so I can make crème brûlée as well! Unfortunately, I would have a real hard time finding this in France – that’s for sure. Still, it must exist *somewhere* though!

  4. That looks really yummy! I’ve only had seared salmon belly before but not tuna. I don’t think I’ve ever seen otoro being sold before, but I will keep a lookout this weekend. Then I’ll have a valid excuse to buy a blowtorch! :)

  5. If you hadn’t said so I wouldn’t have thought this was tuna due to the light color. I learn something new from you everytime Nami, you’re priceless!

  6. Nami, sadly I have never tasted this part of tuna. Some restaurants here offer it, but it’s very expensive and I have doubts about the quality… I prefer to wait for my trip to Japan :-)
    Searing tuna with a blowtorch sounds like an excellent idea. It looks luscious and so elegant with your presentation!
    You should make crème brûlée one day. It’s very easy. I make it very often and thanks to my light recipe (from a famous French chef, not my idea), I even don’t have remorses 😉

  7. I love this post. O-toro is a favorite of mine. You had asked me about if I had tried omakase and I have several times the best being at Miyake in Portland, ME. Check out their website if you have not heard of him. The chef has been featured on the food network several times and he is famous for incorporating local ingredients into Japanese food. The O-toro he served us was a transcendent experience. I have tried it at home but I can’t way to try it this way! I have had people try to pass off other cuts to me as toro as well and it is disappointing they would do that.

  8. I never tried otoro, I like tuna sashimi, but you are right, we always get the one that is with a dark color and melted in our mouth. Not sure if the Japanese restaurants here in Peru work with otoro, but next time I will take a look into the menu and will ask for it.

  9. This is such an interesting post Nami. I just read an article about how rampant seafood “fraud” is (cheaper fish being sold to diners as another more expensive fish)! It’s fascinating to hear that you have experienced that before. The article said that sometimes the actual restaurant doesn’t know, because they are deceived by their suppliers. I could definitely see this happening with a fish that is $59.99 a pound! Wow. I guess for now I will have to be satisfied with living vicariously through your photos. Looks absolutely gorgeous!

  10. Yes yes yes – some of my favorite stuff – we have a fabulous Japanese reastaurant here that i unfortunatly have had to stay away from for another few months since i will eat everything there :) Also i have been to Japan many times but not in a few years now.

  11. OH MY! That dish looks like my dream come true. Otoro is my FAVORITE sushi. So, so good. I’ve never thought to dip it in yuzu, but that sounds like an awesome combo. You are making me hungry!

  12. Such an elegant dish. I haven’t tried making any tuna dishes at home before, but this sounds like a pretty good way to experiment. I love how it’s so simple to make!

  13. Great post nami! I wish I had the culinary expertise to distinguish between what may be passed off as “fake” belly tuna, but looking at both the raw and cooked fish, you can see it’s much lighter and fatty than say tuna steak sashimi… I adore aburi salmon, so this is right up my alley!

  14. I haven’t seen otoro for sale in any markets near where I live, which is really unfortunate because it looks amazing. Next time I eat out at a Japanese restaurant I’ll be on the lookout for this — and I’ll be making sure it’s not just albacore tuna masquerading as otoro!

  15. Hi Nami,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yes, that cheese bread is highly recommended – it was so easy to make, and we almost finished the whole loaf in one dinner just the two of us :-).
    By the way, I opened a pinboard on pinterest with my favorite food blogs, and yours was the first pin :-). I tried to send you a message on Pinterest, but it did not seem to go through (looks like they still have too many bugs), so I am writing here.
    Have a nice afternoon! I hope in the Bay Area it’s not grey and raining like it is here in Vancouver..

  16. I’ve actually never tasted otoro sushi before, but it’s absolutely gorgeous! I’m sure this was delicious, Nami. You do such a wonderful job with presentation. I’m sure I’d devour that plate within minutes. 😉

  17. The super fatty “fats” that melts under the torch must be giving lots of good flavor. Definitely an easier (first) use of the culinary torch to make this than creme brulee…:P

  18. Yum, yuzu green onion and a little bit of that pink salt? I can’t believe you own a torch! Ive always wanted one but thought I would only make smores and creme brulee with it. Hmm another couple things and I think I can find a good excuse to buy one for my tiny kitchen. :)

  19. I love it when you talk about Sushi — it is with authority and conviction! :) You really captured the beauty of the fish, Nami! I love the close up shot that shows the details. Good, good, good job, my friend. I hope you and your family are enjoying the week!

    ~ ray ~

  20. WOW!!!
    It so nice to learn so much from you Nami,
    This dish is so simple but it needs the right fatty belly…
    Beautiful as always, also I love the pictures specially the last one. You can see the juicy rich tuna…. so pretty…

  21. Oh, Nami – this is AMAZING! I had no idea there were so many grades of tuna! I just thought there was regular and sashimi grade. I’m allergic to tuna and I am SO jealous that others get to have this…I love the stuff and I’m drooling all over my keyboard!

    Brilliantly done! BRAVO!

  22. As you know dear, I don’t eat “uncook” sushi/ fish, but WHY the pic u post makes me mouthwatering?? *Sigh* Unfair! 😛
    Tq fr sharing recipe & about the knowledge nami, as always… well done! 😉

  23. hi nami, this seared tuna looks great..the kind of melt in your mouth texture that you described here sounds delicious to me.. i hope i’m able to try this at our local jap restaurants here..

  24. What an informative and gorgeous post with all the well laid-out method images. My mouth is watering at the marbled fatty tuna melting in my mouth – YUM! I’ll have to look for that. As usual, I’ve learned something new from you again – thank you! :)

    Have a good rest of the week, Nami!

  25. I LOVE SASHIMI!! I’m the only person who loves sashimi in my family bcoz all of them don’t like the idea of eating raw meats. But so far, I’d only tried the salmon, tuna and yellow tail sashimi. I prefer salmon sashimi most.
    I’m already drooping while reading this post! 😛

  26. I’m not a huge sushi fan, but will eat otoro any day of the week! I just had it for the first time in Hawaii about a month ago. Super jealous that you can find it at a local store. We are land locked (in Colorado) and don’t have access to any good fish!

  27. Oh my gosh this looks amazing! I can just imagine how good it is. I have made sesame crsted seared tuna, but have never tried seared otoro before…I’ll have to save up for it! I am always so impressed by your cooking.

  28. Janice

    Hi Nami,
    You mention that you and your hubby are able to get tuna belly prepared two ways at your favorite sushi restaurant. I too live in the bay area and have to ask, what restaurant is this? I would love to perhaps go there sometime. Thanks!

  29. Hello, Nami san.

    I am so glad to find your blog through Anh’s blog. I used to live in San Francisco and am Japanese. These coincidences make me feel like you are not a stranger to me!

    Your blog has full of useful and great information on Japanese cooking which I, as a Japanese, can learn from. Gorgeous pictures and kind recipes!

    Aburi Toro is the one I always order at Sushi restaurant. I will stop by here regularly. Thank you!

  30. When I worked in a sushi restaurant, we sold our otoro sushi for $32 (two pieces!)… It was so good and folks didn’t mind paying for it! Your seared tuna looks fantastic!