Sesame Coated Tuna Nuggets (Maguro no goma age)

As you can see I’m getting really obsessed with rolls, skewers, finger food and all types of snacks. In fact, I start serving them more and more often as a part of main courses and find them much more fun to prepare and to eat. Some of you might remember the Sesame Coated Chicken Nuggets I wrote about a couple of months ago. Even though I named them “nuggets”, the recipe is Japanese and was found in  my favourite cookery book (Japanese cooking. A simple art by Shizuo Tsuji). The chicken nuggets were coated in egg white, than in sesame seeds and then deep-fried, i.e. prepared according to the “kawari age” or “variation frying” methods described by Tsuji and consisting in coating deep-fried food in different, sometimes very surprising products. Until now I have tested and adored chopped nori seaweed (Scallops Fried in Nori) and my beloved sesame seeds, which proved wonderful with chicken, but too bitter and strong with scallops.

Last week, when I saw red tuna sold on special price (otherwise it’s horribly expensive), I decided to treat it exactly like chicken breast. I have cut it into cubes, coated with egg whites, sesame seeds, quickly deep-fried and loved it! The fish was soft,  juicy and the sesame seeds formed a crunchy, slightly nutty crust. Moreover, just like chicken nuggets, these were not soaked in fat because sesame seeds do not absorb as much oil as certain coatings.

I had these nuggets twice: first with a bottle of white wine along with other snacks, and then, the following day, I prepared them once more and served with rice and pickles for lunch. They can be dipped in any sauce of your choice, but I found my Hot Mango Sauce a perfect pairing. (It can be substituted by a quick mixture of mango, chilies and vinegar.)

TIP: This is an excellent way to use up egg whites!

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

300 g tuna steak

1 flat tablespoon flour

1 egg white

4 heaped tablespoons (or more) white sesame seeds (it depends how thick you want the crust to be) 


oil for deep-frying

Preheat the deep-frying oil (it’s hot enough when a tiny piece of bread thrown into the fat doesn’t “sink” and stays on the surface, instantly browning).

Cut up the tuna steak into bite-sized cubes.

Season the cubes lightly with salt.

Beat the egg white slightly with a fork.

Dry the tuna pieces well with paper towels.

Dredge them slightly in flour, shake off the excess, then in the egg white and at the end roll them in sesame seeds.

Deep fry them for about 30 seconds in small batches  (the time depends on the temperature of your oil and the size of your pieces).

54 Replies to “Sesame Coated Tuna Nuggets (Maguro no goma age)”

    1. Thank you, Charlie. You are right, everything tastes better when reduced in size and with a toothpick 😉

  1. Oh, these are so great Sissi! And you’ve got me all aflutter with the thought of the hot mango sauce (mango: check; chili: check; vinegar: check, check = love it!).

    Wonderful that these are bite-sized too – perfect for nibbling here and there throughout the day – so convenient say, if one worked from home ;-). Love the simplicity (deliciousness and healthful properties) of your food Sissi. Have a great weekend! I hope the sun is shining on you :).

    1. Kelly, thank you for so many compliments. When you say you appreciate the healthful side of my food, I’m so proud! You should try the mango sauce! It’s very easy and quick and I make it every year (then I preserve it). In fact, I prefer mango in savoury dishes rather than sweet. It is perfect with chili and it is also great with chicken.
      I try to have these snacks for dinner or lunch and treat them as a “real” course, because otherwise I would nibble on them all day long, just like you say 😉

  2. Finger food is the best, so much fun to make and so much more fun to eat. I think I would try this with chicken. My environmentalist friends would kill me if I serve them tuna :-/

    1. Thank you so much, Ben. The chicken version is fantastic too! You know, if everyone ate tuna as rarely as I do, it wouldn’t be an endangered species 😉 I do care for the environment but not in the restrictive, depriving sense (I’m too gourmet for this 🙂 ).

  3. Hi Sissi. So nice to be back commenting and blog ogling again. I have so much to catch up on. These look delicious! I’m not a fan of tuna but I can just imagine the sesame seeds turning it into something I could really get into. I love foods like this … a very nice change from a full main course meal.

    1. Thank you so much, Ping! I’m so happy to read your comment! I was thinking about you today and even wanted to harass you by email, but finally decided to wait a bit… Thank you for the compliments. I think you could make it with any firm flesh fish (or of course chicken).

  4. Sissi, I can definitely tell you LOVE sesame seeds! I gotta put mine into better use, for some reason I just don’t remember to sprinkle them onto dishes…

    I can imagine those tuna bites are amazing! I need to watch out for tuna on special, they are normally so expensive that I don’t even look in their direction while grocery shopping. Do you think Sea Bass would work well also?

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. Yes, I confess I’m addicted. I buy it now in 500 g bags! I also always check if there are special prices because it is super expensive here too (this time tuna was 40% off and looked particularly nice). Tuna freezes very well too, so I always buy a bit more. I think sea bass might be too flaky… Maybe monkfish? (Definitely monkfish!). Or another firmer fish?

  5. I could live on finger food! 🙂 These sesame seed coating tuna nuggets sound perfect! I usually sear big tuna steaks coated in sesame seeds, but making nuggets and deep frying sounds SO MUCH better! Love this!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. What a coincidence! So this is like a shrunk version of your tuna steaks! I am really bad at frying whole tuna steaks: they are always overcooked…

    1. Thank you, Laura. You are lucky indeed… If I got very fresh tuna, I would also make sashimi. Tuna is my favourite fish in sushi.

    1. Thank you so much. Unfortunately I have no grill and have never grilled anything on my own 🙁 so I cannot tell you, but I must say sesame (if not toasted before) is surprisingly resistant to frying! It doesn’t burn even deep-fried for 5 minutes (and the temperature is really high), so you should make a small test one day. Have a lovely weekend too!

  6. Hi Sissi, that is right up my alley, except the deep fried bit. I think I will try searing them on a very hot cast iron skillet so that the tuna can remain mainly rare on the inside. Absolutely LOVE it. I would surely love to share a glass/bottle of wine with you, particularly if you bring these wonderful nuggets along. The hot mango sauce sounds incredible too. YUM. Hope you have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you, Eva. Since I cook Japanese, I deep-fry certain things and must admit the taste is really different… and I love it! I simply eat such dishes rarely. I’m sure however you can do the same on a pan. It will probably be still delicious.
      I would even bring a bottle of white wine (I think I have read somewhere that you prefer white wine 😉 ) These snacks were perfect with white wine. Have a lovely weekend!

  7. Hi Sissi, rolls and skewers are rather main food for us although some may make small amount for otsumami with alcohoic drinks. This is a great idea! American supermarket sells thick tuna cut (Japanese don’t usually sell tit that thick – infant it will be too thin for this recipe) and this is a perfect recipe. I love sesame seeds too. You are so creative! Hope you have a good weekend!

      1. I haven’t even noticed! I make much bigger mistakes typing on my computer keyboard 😉

    1. Thank you so much, Nami! Your comment confirms my previous life as a Japanese 😉 Once more! Seriously I think it’s watching you, other blogging Japanese friends and reading Japanese cookery books that I start to have this cute, bite-sized rolls, snacks etc. obsession. I also think I tend to eat less when it’s separated into tiny snacks (and if I treat it as a main course of course). I also hope you have a lovely weekend and that you finally have a rest after all these travels and jet lags.

  8. Love tuna – well, I love the canned stuff even as well, but proper tuna steaks have a wonderful quality – flavour and texture – which you don’t often find in other fishes. I always find too many sesame seeds on something a bit… hmm, I don’t know – the taste seems a bit bitter to me maybe… although I like a nice crust. Maybe I could try with a crust of breadcrumbs and sesame seeds together? They look delicious though – I bet they’re a wonderful snack!

    1. Thank you, Charles. I don’t know such a concept like “too much sesame seeds” 😉 Seriously, if you have already tasted dishes with too much sesame for your taste, then I wouldn’t advise it. My husband, however, who is not addicted to sesame seeds like me, found both chicken and tuna nuggets excellent. Of course you can try mixing sesame seeds with panko, but I have never tried it.

    1. Thank you, Karen. Here it’s also very expensive. I buy it only when it has a special price (this time it was 40% off!) and when it looks good (this time it looked excellent).

  9. Sorry for nitpicking, but I think that … goma ae should be spelled … goma age. As you may know, goma ae means a dish dressed with sesame seeds.

    1. Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. What a stupid mistake… Of course now that you tell me, aemono are dressed dishes and agemono fried, but it’s still not automatic… I am correcting the mistake straight away!

  10. I have never heard of tuna nuggets, you might be the first person to invent this. I won’t be surprised if McD’s ‘borrows’ your idea. If they do ask for a lifetimes supply of free burgers;)
    I hope your weekend is going well

    1. Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies. Thank you for the advice. I will remember this (although given the tuna price, I doubt if any fast food chain would serve it…). I hope you are having lovely holidays!

        1. I was thinking precisely about the chain Mr. Three-Cookies has mentioned 😉 Of course Gourmet fast food is in fashion, I totally agree.

  11. I love finger food and it is a great idea for a light dinner. These fish nuggets look delicious and sesame always gives a character to whatever is added!

  12. Dear Sissi,

    This dish looks very elegant except tuna is becoming so expensive in Australia. The sashimi grade is up to A$60/kg even in the wholesale fish markets. I might stick to eating them fresh or lightly seared on a hot pan, then sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds with a ponzu dressing.

    1. Thank you, Chopinand. Here tuna is also very expensive, but my shop makes regularly special prices on different fish varieties. Whenever I see tuna at half price, I buy it, freeze it and enjoy, but it happens very rarely. I never eat them raw because I live so far from the sea and am worried they are not very fresh… These nuggets were perfect with the not-so-perfect tuna steak.

  13. oh japanese sesame treat! you realy got a hand for east asian cooking Sissi, thats so cool that you know so much from this type of cuisine. I have never tried a tuna snack and even less with sesame combined, so I am looking forward to try this prety soon. My husband is going to love that too cause he is a snack junkie. ^.^

    1. Thank you so much, Helene. I cook more and more Japanese cuisine (or Japanese cuisine-inspired dishes) and I must say I cannot imagine going back.

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