Grilled ahi tuna steak is a good alternative to beef and pork

Spicy seared tuna steak is sliced against the grain to go with steamed rice and garlic broccoli.

The spectrum of grilled meats traditionally revolves around beef and pork, but you may be making a serious mistake if you aren't paying attention to the seafood section at your area grocery store. Bowl Turning Chuck

Grilled ahi tuna steak is a good alternative to beef and pork

Often served fresh out of the seafood case or the frozen food section, ahi tuna steaks are affordable, priced at about $15 per pound, and super easy to prepare on the grill or a stovetop skillet. The flexibility of ahi is its strength because it can technically be eaten raw as sushi, poke or sashimi, but the more you cook it, the more texture it takes on. So a few minutes on a hot grill is akin to searing a beef steak.

The term "ahi" originates from Hawaii, and the fish is the preferred one of choice there along with mahi-mahi. If you ever get the chance to go, I recommend going to Roy's in any of the multiple locations throughout the islands for a meal you won't forget. The fish can either be the yellowfin or the bigeye tuna. It's a lean fish with little to no fat, and the American Heart Association recommends eating about 7 ounces of it per week.

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A steak is cut from a piece of fresh tuna. Tuna steaks hold up well on the grill.

It's healthy -- loaded with vitamins (particularly B12), good fatty acids and potassium -- and has about 8 more grams of protein than salmon. Tuna has been linked with better vision, helping with weight loss and preventing certain cancers. Yet so many people look at tuna as something that's purchased in cans or vacuum-sealed bags and relegated to sandwich status with a splattering of mayonnaise and a slice of cheese.

There is a simplistic way to approach ahi tuna steaks whether it's on the grill or in the oven. I like to prep it with an equal mixture of salt and lemon pepper or coarse ground black pepper poured onto meat that has a thin layer of olive oil to act as a binder. Then I will cook it on high heat on a fully loaded charcoal grill for about four minutes per side.   

It's quick. It's easy. It's delicious.

Grilled tuna steak is served with asparagus, lemon and yogurt dill sauce.

Tuna steaks take on the same consistency as other proteins and hold up well. The only difference is that you can cut into them with your fork. They take really well to marinades, especially fruity varieties such as peach or pineapple-based sauces, and nobody will walk away hungry. Take your preferred glaze and mop it on the meat in the final stages of cooking so it doesn't blacken and char the steaks.

I can make a strong argument that ahi tuna steaks are perhaps the best protein to buy in the grocery meat case. Forget Charlie the Tuna or Chicken of the Sea -- these are bona fide steaks with about half as much saturated fat as a rib-eye slab of beef per serving. 

Good cuts of ahi are perfect additions to salads or sandwiches, or they can stand on their own with a few sides. Keep this in mind during your next market trip for a tasty treat that goes beyond the standard norms. | Twitter: @chuck_blount | Instagram: @bbqdiver

Grilled ahi tuna steak is a good alternative to beef and pork

Three Jaw Chuck Chuck Blount is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience at the San Antonio Express-News, and a tenure split between writing and editing about food, drinks, poker and sports, where he was part of the team that covered four of the five Spurs' NBA championships. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa.