Crispy sesame-crusted tuna tacos with mango salsa

Crispy sesame-crusted tuna tacos with mango salsa

A Lot on Her Plate
Helen Cathcart

When I lived in Vancouver, there was a wonderful Baja-inspired taco truck and commissary called Tacofino that was famous for serving exciting, inventive tacos, and a fantastic array of tequilas. We had great nights there, and I always ordered the seared tuna tacos, which inspired this recipe. It fuses Asian and Mexican flavours, balancing sweet, sour, salty and spicy, and the mango salsa gives it a tropical edge. Try to track down corn tortillas as they really make the dish and add a satisfying crispy texture: you’ll find them at Mexican grocers, delis or online. The seaweed salad is optional, but if you can track down wakame (you’ll find it in Asian stores) then it’s really worth making.


Quantity Ingredient

Seaweed salad (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
15g dried wakame seaweed, rinsed
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
pinch white pepper
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar

Salsa dressing

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon good-quality fish sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch salt
pinch ground white pepper

Chilli mango salsa

Quantity Ingredient
1 fresh mango, or tinned mango, peeled and diced, (230 g)
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
1/2 red bird’s-eye chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, finely chopped

Crispy tacos

Quantity Ingredient
20g sesame seeds, (mixture of white and black)
freshly ground black pepper
200g sushi-grade tuna fillets
5 tablespoons rapeseed or groundnut oil
6 corn tortillas
1/4 white cabbage, finely shredded

To garnish

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon fried red onion or shallots
Sriracha mayo
fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
lime wedges


  1. To make the seaweed salad, if using, rehydrate the wakame in tepid water for 5–10 minutes. When it’s floppy, drain it. Mix it with the remaining salad ingredients. Set aside.
  2. To make the salsa dressing, mix the ingredients together, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  3. To make the chilli mango salsa, combine the mango, shallot, chilli and coriander, and then pour the salsa dressing over the mango mixture, and stir.
  4. For the tuna filling, pour the sesame seeds onto a plate with salt and pepper and press the tuna fillets down onto them firmly, to coat. Flip over the fillets and do the same on the other side.
  5. To make the taco shells, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium–high heat. Using tongs, place a tortilla in the hot oil. Fry for about 15 seconds, and then flip it over and fold the shell in half, holding it in place with the tongs for about 15 seconds until it’s crispy and holding its shape. Drain on kitchen paper, and repeat with the other tortillas. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. To sear the tuna, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the frying pan. When it’s really hot, cook the tuna for just over 1 minute on each side, for medium-rare, 1 minute longer for well-done. Remove from the heat, rest for a minute and cut into bite-sized cubes.
  7. If you don’t have store-bought crispy fried red onion or shallots for the garnish, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, and fry a finely sliced shallot until crisp and golden, but not burnt. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
  8. To assemble the tacos: place some cabbage in each shell, followed by the seaweed salad (if using), mango salsa, tuna and fried shallots. Drizzle over some Sriracha mayo, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with wedges of lime. Eat immediately with your hands.


  • To get a nice drizzle effect with the mayonnaise, it’s worth investing in a squeezy plastic bottle. They’re super cheap, easy to come by in kitchenware stores or on the internet, and will help you get that restaurant look.
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