Recipe: Timorese Grilled Tuna Steaks with Garlic and Butter

Photo copyright Jerry Redfern

Serves 4

Loads of garlic, butter, and sea salt make this tuna leap for joy. Forget tuna in a can. Fresh tuna steaks are as good, if not better than salmon.

Bold and intense, this recipe will transport you to the flavors of East Timor and an incredible meal, as remembered by Karen Coates of Rambling Spoon. Read Karen’s story – the inspiration for our recipe.

Perfect for Valentine’s day, or any special occasion.


4 Tuna steaks
4 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic
coarse sea salt


Timorese Grilled Tuna Steaks are perfect for special occasions and as easy to make for 1 as for 100. In my humble opinion, however, two is ideal – after all, Valentine’s day is just around the corner.

Gather your ingredients. Only four are required (the sea salt is not pictured)! I love the simplicity.

Crush the garlic over softened butter…

Breathe in deeply. Smile.

Give the mixture a stir until the garlic is thoroughly combined…

At this point you have two options.

1) Smear the mixture on a tuna steak and wrap in foil. This will give you the most flavor (yum, fish swimming in garlic butter), but the final dish won’t be much to look at.


2) Melt the butter/garlic mixture and…

…brush it on the tuna steak.

Either way, put the steaks on a medium-hot grill (preheat it for a good ten minutes)…

And let cook 2-4 minutes per side…

Or until you are happy with the results (Tuna is like steak, you can make it rare, medium, or even well done)

The sizzling steam will lure you in…

But there’s one more thing you must do before you dig in (not counting lighting a few candles and putting on some romantic music).

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Optional: Slice thinly and place on a bed of rice (or Tapai, a type of fermented rice popular in East Timor. Thanks to our reader, Brian S. for this suggestion).

Garnish with thinly sliced green onion.

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  1. What a wonderful idea! We cook only from the countries that we visit but I like the idea of trying dishes from all. I can’t wait to see what you continue cooking up.

  2. elisa waller says:

    I love this one…how did the rice taste? sounds questionable?

  3. Thanks for mentioning me!!! You might get better flavor if, as you say, you serve the tuna rare. I usually like mine rarer than this:


  1. […] Grilled Tuna Steaks with Butter & Garlic [Recipe] […]

  2. […] visited Rambling Spoon before. Just in case you missed my post on East Timor, or Sasha’s posts on East Timor, or the interview she did with me, let me clarify that her blog gets my big vote for a Stylish […]

  3. […] you like Tuna steaks, be sure to check out the Timorese Tuna we […]

  4. […] are great with anything – we can confirm not only the coconut crusted fish, but the wonderful Grilled Tuna Steaks with Garlic and Butter from East Timor which we ate on Father’s Day […]

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