Applewood-Smoked Tuna Tartare With Avocado & Wasabi Aioli

Applewood-Smoked Tuna Tartare With Avocado & Wasabi Aioli
Jump to Recipe 👇

About This Recipe

Ah, the lush vineyards and the endless culinary possibilities that the Napa Valley and Sonoma regions offer. It’s a haven where every flavor seems to tell a story, every aroma carries the essence of the land. Among the many gustatory delights that these regions promise, one that stands out is the elegant and ever-so-delicate tuna tartare. But we’re not talking about just any tuna tartare; we are delving into the realm of Applewood-Smoked Tuna Tartare With Avocado & Wasabi Aioli. This dish encapsulates the heart of Californian cuisine, fusing the Pacific’s bounty with the rustic charm of wine country.

The origins of this particular ahi tuna recipe trace back to a quest for blending the smokiness typically associated with vineyard cookouts and the freshness of the sea. Applewood chips, sourced from the local orchards, are the soul of this dish, lending a whisper of smoke to the tuna, a whisper that speaks of summer evenings in the valley. The delicate ahi is lightly kissed by smoke, not to cook, but to infuse, to envelop the tender fish with a hint of the orchard’s essence. This smoked ahi tuna is then united with the creamy richness of avocado, creating a dance of textures, a celebration of the land and the sea.

Now, let’s talk about the wasabi aioli. Oh, the gentle kick of wasabi paired with the smooth allure of aioli, it’s a concoction that does more than just tantalize the taste buds. This wasabi sauce for tuna is the zing, the pizzazz that cuts through the smoke and the cream, creating a balance, a harmony that sings the song of California. It’s not just a sauce; it’s the embodiment of the adventurous spirit of Napa and Sonoma.

Pairing wine with such a dish is not just about complementing flavors; it’s about enhancing the entire dining experience. Imagine sitting in a quaint little setup amidst the vineyards, a gentle breeze carrying whispers of the nearby Pacific as you delve into the smoky, creamy goodness of the tuna tartare. A sip of Chardonnay from Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, with its buttery notes, echoes the creaminess of avocado, creating a melody of flavors. Alternatively, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Duckhorn Vineyards could offer a refreshing contrast, its acidity cutting through the richness, prepping your palate for the next delightful bite. And for the bold at heart, a sparkling wine from Domaine Carneros by Taittinger is the choice that adds a celebratory note to the meal, the bubbles dancing amidst the smoky and spicy notes of the dish.

When you delve into this tuna tartare recipe, you are not just indulging in a culinary delight; you are partaking in a journey through the wine country. Every ingredient, every flavor is a narrative, telling tales of the local farmers, the fisherfolk, the vintners, and the chefs who come together to create a tapestry of tastes.

A visit to Napa or Sonoma is incomplete without exploring the local vineyards and tasting rooms. Whether it’s the grandeur of Castello di Amorosa or the rustic charm of Hess Collection Winery, each vineyard has a story to tell, a flavor to share. And as you explore, perhaps with a glass of locally crafted wine in hand, you’ll find the inspiration to create your own renditions of the local cuisine.

The Applewood-Smoked Tuna Tartare With Avocado & Wasabi Aioli is not just a dish; it’s an experience, a tribute to the rich culinary and vinicultural heritage of the Californian wine country. It’s a dish that invites you to explore the flavors, the textures, and the aromas that make Napa and Sonoma the heart of gourmet adventures. Each bite is a taste of the valley, a taste of the Pacific, a taste of the adventures that await in the rolling vineyards and the quaint little towns of Northern California.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight

The hero ingredient in the Applewood-Smoked Tuna Tartare With Avocado & Wasabi Aioli is undeniably the ahi tuna. Known for its rich flavor and tender texture, ahi tuna is a premium choice for raw dishes. When paired with the subtle smokiness from applewood chips, the tuna's flavor profile is elevated, embracing a gentle smokiness that reminisces of rustic outdoor gatherings in the heart of wine country. The freshness and quality of the tuna are paramount to achieving the perfect tuna tartare, making it a cherished ingredient among chefs and home cooks alike.

Achieving the Perfect Smoke

  1. Choosing the Right Wood: Applewood chips are preferred for their mild and slightly sweet flavor. They impart a gentle smoke that doesn't overpower the delicate nature of the tuna.
  2. Prepping the Smoker: Ensure your smoker is clean and functioning properly before use. Preheat it to a low temperature, aiming for a smoking temperature of around 200°F.
  3. Smoking the Tuna: Place the tuna in the smoker and allow it to smoke for about 15 minutes. This time frame will infuse the tuna with a nice smoky flavor without cooking it through.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use another type of fish for this recipe? Yes, you could use salmon or another firm, fresh fish. However, the unique flavor and texture of ahi tuna are what truly shine in this recipe.
  2. What if I don't have a smoker? If you don't have a smoker, you can use a stovetop smoker or even create a makeshift smoker using a roasting pan, wire rack, and aluminum foil.
  3. Can I prepare this dish in advance? Tuna tartare is best enjoyed fresh, but you can prepare it a few hours in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.
  4. Is there a substitute for wasabi aioli? If you can't find wasabi aioli, you can make your own by mixing wasabi paste with mayonnaise, or simply use a spicy mayo as a substitute.
  5. What other types of wood chips can I use? Other mild wood chips like cherry or alder can be used, but applewood is preferred for its unique, slightly sweet smoky flavor.

Tips for Success

  1. Quality Ingredients: Ensure your ahi tuna is fresh and of sushi-grade quality. It's the star of the dish, and its quality will significantly impact the final result. Visit a reputable fishmonger or specialty grocery store to source the best tuna.
  2. Gentle Mixing: When combining the ingredients, mix gently to retain the texture of the tuna and avocado. Overmixing can lead to a mushy texture which is less appealing.
  3. Serving Suggestions: Serve the tuna tartare chilled on a warm day, perhaps as an appetizer at a summer gathering. It pairs wonderfully with local Napa or Sonoma wines, enhancing the wine country dining experience.

Recipe Overview

Applewood-Smoked Tuna Tartare With Avocado & Wasabi Aioli
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 1 pound fresh tuna fillet
  • 2 tablespoons applewood chips for smoking
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup wasabi aioli
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Garnish: microgreens (optional)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. First, prepare your smoker with applewood chips and set it to a low heat. Once it’s ready, place the tuna fillet in the smoker and smoke for about 15 minutes. The goal is to have a light smoky flavor infused into the tuna without cooking it through.
  2. Remove the tuna from the smoker and let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, dice the tuna into small cubes and set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the diced tuna with avocado, soy sauce, sesame oil, grated ginger, and lime zest.
  4. Gently fold in the wasabi aioli until the mixture is well combined but still retains a chunky texture.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and sprinkle with black sesame seeds, fresh chives, and freshly cracked black pepper.
  6. Garnish with microgreens if desired and serve immediately.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

About Me

Don't miss a recipe!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Coming soon - Cookbook!

Loving Napa Home Chef Recipes and wishing for more? Discover print exclusives!

Napa Recipe Cookbook: Napa Home Chef
Smoked Salmon-Dill Deviled Eggs
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic Glaze Recipe
Roasted Duck with Tangy Yuzu Glaze
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Pecan Butter and Bourbon Maple Syrup
Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with Red Wine Sauce
Redwood Forest Morel Mushroom Sauce
Arugula Salad with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Riesling Apple Butter Burger with Brie
Smoked Trout Tostada with Avocado Mousse and Crispy Leeks
Bruschetta with Burrata, Prosciutto, and Roasted Peppers
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Meyer Lemon and Chardonnay
Buckwheat and Buttermilk Pancakes with Blackberry Jam and Sage Whipped Cream

Mandatory (inedible) cookies. By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.