French in a Flash: Moroccan Spiced Seared Rare Tuna Recipe

Photograph: Kerry Saretsky

Ras-el-hanout is a traditional Moroccan spice blend, one my great grandfather used to sell in Casablanca long before I was born. It translates to "head of the shop," and every shop and household and grandmother has its own version which, in true Moroccan fashion, they all swear is the absolute best, most superior, unsurpassed in heaven or on earth.

Its value stems from the use of sweet spices in a savory application. Traditionally it's used to season couscous but I really love it on seafood, adding it to calamari batter and sprinkling it on fish skin before searing. There's an inherent sweetness and savoriness to seafood as well, and the match, well, unsurpassed in heaven or on earth.

This simple but special rare seared tuna is coated in ras-el-hanout and marinates for hours so the spices can really penetrate the outer flesh of the fish. Then it gets a quick sear, is sliced up and served with spicy harissa instead of wasabi, and lemon wedges instead of soy sauce. It's like my French Moroccan interpretation of tuna tataki.

Recipe Facts



Active: 3 mins
Total: 2 hrs 5 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 4 4-ounces pieces of fresh tuna
  • 2 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Harissa, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Coat the outside of all the tuna with the ras-el-hanot. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  2. Preheat a skillet over high heat. Season the fish with salt, and add the canola oil to the pot. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the tuna to the pan. Sear 1 minute on the first side, and 1 minute on the second. Allow to rest 10 minutes, then slice. Serve with harissa and lemon wedges on the side.