Wild Recipes

Seared Tuna Burgers


In my recent deep drop fishing adventure, here in Key West, we targeted tuna before we went further out to deep drop. You can read all about that adventure here. Unfortunately, we did not catch any Blackfin Tuna, but we did catch several Tunny Fish which are also known as False Albacore and Bonita. Most people toss this fish back or use it for bait. That day we caught 12 of them and I didn’t want to waste the meat.

People toss them back because they claim the meat is very “fishy”. I dislike the word “fishy” almost as much as I dislike the word “gamey” when referencing wild game meat. The usage of both words usually indicates improper field care, processing or preparation. The Tunny Fish should be bled out just like other, more popular, tuna species. Bleeding will help reduce the amount of blood in the meat. Another trick is to soak the meat in a couple of ice water baths. I did the later with this meat and was happy with the result.

There was zero “fishy” taste in the meat. We used the first couple of pounds to make poke which was phenomenal. The next couple pounds went into this recipe which is a burger form of the poke recipe. I would normally grill any burger patties, but I think that the use of the cast iron pan helped keep the meat together. I also normally use egg as a binder within the patty, but I wanted to cook these patties a little less well done, thus skipping the egg. The addition of the spicy mayo was a great spicy layer to the flavor of the tuna.

Serving Size: 6 patties

Time to make: 30 minutes

Special Equipment: Stove top, cast iron pan, spatula

Also works with: Salmon, Large Trout Fillets, Most Large Saltwater Fish

Beer/Wine Pairing:  IPA, Pilsner, Sake, or White Wine

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2 lbs tuna, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp + 1 tsp teriyaki

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp Cajun seafood seasoning

½ cup panko

1 tbsp oil


Shredded Cheese


Spicy Mayo


How to make it

  1. Combine all ingredients (except the oil) in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Allow the mixture to set for 5 minutes. This allows the panko to moisten and bind to the fish.
  3. Bring a large cast iron pan or nonstick pan to medium high heat.
  4. Form the tuna mixture into 4”-5” wide patties. Make sure they are pressed together will to prevent breaking up in the pan.
  5. Add the patties to the pan and press slightly with a spatula. Allow the patties to cook for 2 minutes and then carefully flip with the spatula.
  6. Sprinkle shredded cheese on the top and allow the patties to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from the pan and plate using the sides above or your favorites.

Justin Townsend

Justin (Choctaw) is an avid hunter, angler, and chef whose passion for the outdoors lead him to create Harvesting Nature in 2011. He continues to hunt, fish, and cook all while sharing his experiences with others through film, podcasts, print, and with recipes. He also proudly serves in the United States Coast Guard.

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