Thursday, May 30, 2024

Spicy Tuna Rice Bowls Are My Fast Fallback

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The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the dishes and drinks you can make with your eyes closed.

Living with three kids means I always need a backup plan for my weekday lunches. Any extra groceries I thought might still be in my fridge always seem to have performed a disappearing act the minute I need to make something quick. But I always seem to have enough to throw together a spicy tuna rice bowl. This pantry-focused meal is my go-to for when I want something filling and fast.

And when I say fast, I mean fast. The recipe is from my cookbook 15 Minute Meals, and in my experience, this one takes 10 minutes tops. A tuna rice bowl is a staple of my quick-cooking repertoire; to make it really shine, I like to add a bit of spice, tang, and crunch—and luckily, almost all the ingredients are swappable. Don’t hesitate to use up whatever’s lurking in your pantry or fridge.

Here’s how to make a Spicy Tuna Rice Bowl

This serves one person, but it can easily be scaled up by doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling the ingredients.

Scoop about 1 cup leftover white rice (microwaveable packs and frozen rice also work great) into a bowl. Microwave for around 1 minute, until the rice is hot.

Meanwhile, work on the rest of your bowl. Dice something pickled, enough to yield a couple spoonfuls; I prefer to use cornichons for their tangy sharpness, but you can also use dill pickles, sauerkraut, or for extra spice, kimchi. Then dice something crunchy, say a small cucumber, small carrots, a couple stalks of celery, a few radishes, or whatever else you have on hand. Add both to a small bowl. Drain a 5-oz. can of tuna (get oil-packed if you can—the fish is less dry and the flavor is richer).

Add the tuna to the vegetables, along with a couple spoonfuls of mayonnaise, a squeeze of sriracha, and optionally (for zing and to loosen the mixture) a splash of white or rice vinegar. All of the seasonings are eminently swappable. Want creaminess without the mayo? Use olive oil. Don’t have white or rice vinegar? Sub in apple cider or champagne vinegar, or even pickle brine. Prefer a different hot sauce? Use chili crisp, gochujang, Calabrian chile paste, or any hot sauce you love. Throw a dash of salt on top and then mix it all up.

Spoon the tuna mixture onto the rice. I like to add some more vegetables alongside (say, a tuft of shredded cabbage, a handful of sliced cucumbers, and/or some shaved radishes) plus some sesame seeds on top, but you certainly don’t have to. Let your kitchen lead the way.

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