World champion pitmaster Chris Lilly makes us wish we lived in Alabama, where he heads the grill at Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Cue. His new book, Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets is full of the knowledge you’ll need to finish first in this season-long grilling contest. Yup, it’s a contest. Win it with something really delicious, like this peppered ahi tuna.

Also see: All Chris Lilly Wants Is For You To Get Your Pork Temperature Right

The Hawaiian name for yellowfin tuna is ahi. You’ll find it marked both ways in grocery stores. It is excellent for grilling directly over hot charcoal, giving it a quick sear and keeping the center rare. I created this recipe for a get-together at the American Royal Barbecue Contest in Kansas City. We were trying out the new Competition Briquets from Kingsford, and my good friend and Kingsford employee Drew McGowan wanted to bring the grills up to a very high searing temperature. Ahi tuna was the perfect match for the occasion.

A trick I often use for fish is to turn a simple dry rub blend into a oilbased seasoning paste, since the added oil helps keep the fish from drying out. The sweet cantaloupe and pineapple in the salsa nicely offset the high ratio of black pepper on the tuna. 

Reprinted with permission from Fire & Smoke