Grilled Chili-Rubbed Tuna Salad with Charred Tomatillo and Scallion Dressing

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  1 hour Cook Time:  20 minutes

Grilled Chili-Rubbed Tuna Salad with Charred Tomatillo and Scallion Dressing

This is a grill and blender dish—not a pot or pan to clean! Okay, it does have a rather long list of ingredients, but it’s incredibly easy once you get the grill going. And it’s a very versatile recipe. If you have any leftover dressing (I never have any!) mix in some hot sauce (to taste) and serve it with with tortilla chips. You can also grab a dozen small flour tortillas, and put all the ingredients inside and eat!


2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon ground guajillo chili powder

2 large bunches scallions (about 16 to 18 scallions)

4 ears of corn, shucked

12 to 16 tomatillos (1½ pounds), papery skin removed

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 pound fresh tuna steak, about ¾ inch thick, sushi grade preferred, all dark portions and skin removed


3 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1½ tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves


6 cups fresh spinach, trimmed

2 tomatoes cut into ½ inch wide strips

1 mango, peeled and cut into ½ inch wide strips

1 avocado

¼ Santa Claus or any other sweet white-fleshed melon, cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

¼ cup sunflower seeds


  1. Heat a grill to high heat. Mix the salt, cumin, and ancho and guajillo powders in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the scallions, corn, and tomatillo on a baking sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Place the tuna on another baking sheet and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle the spice mixture on all sides of the tuna steak and pat it into the fish.
  3. Grill the vegetables until the tomatillos are charred but not falling apart, the scallions are charred but not blackened, and the corn has a few dark charred marks. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
  4. Grill the fish for about 1 minute per side, or until each side is charred but the fish is raw or very, very rare in the middle (see Kitchen Tip). Transfer to a clean platter (see Kitchen Tip) and cover with foil.
  5. Place the grilled tomatillos and scallions, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, vinegar, and cilantro into a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse or blend until smooth. The mixture will be very thick (see Kitchen Tip).
  6. Cut the corn off the cob (see Kitchen Tip). Arrange the spinach in a serving dish (see Kitchen Tips) Peel and cut the avocado into ½ inch wide strips.  Arrange the mango, avocado, and tomatoes on top and scatter the corn over the platter. Cut the fish in ½ inch wide slices, place on top of the salad, and pour the dressing around and over it. Scatter the platter with melon, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. We love very rare tuna, but if you don’t—or if someone at your table has a compromised immune system—by all means, cook the fish a little longer.
  2. Always use a fresh plate for fully cooked meat, poultry, or fish cooked on the grill; NEVER place it back on the plate that held the meat when it was raw, as it holds uncooked juices that might carry foodborne bacteria. These microorganisms are killed during cooking, but placing the cooked meat back into the uncooked juices can contaminate it and cause foodborne illness.
  3. If you prefer a thinner dressing, add more oil or some vegetable stock.
  4. To cut the kernels off a fresh ear of corn, shuck it well and place it on a work surface. Cut it in half crosswise. Stand it on the work surface, cut-side-down, and with a sharp knife, cut downward to remove the kernels.

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