Hello! Mia here, filling in for Melissa Clark. My morning routine is simple: boil water for coffee, walk the dog, wash and cook rice. My rice cooker does the heavy lifting for most of my meals, especially since its “keep warm” function means lunch and dinner are ready when I am. Which is why Ali Slagle’s spicy tuna salad with crispy rice (above) went straight into my recipe box. It reminds me of Eric Kim’s tuna mayo rice bowl with its soy-spiked, creamy tuna mix, but with added texture and a Sriracha punch. Ali cooks her rice on the stovetop, but I’ll make like our reader Sofi and rely on my trusty Zojirushi before using a skillet to crisp the rice when it’s time to eat. Am I giving myself an extra pan to wash? Yes. Is it worth it for nutty, deeply toasted rice? Also yes.
To eat alongside: something with cucumbers, because it’s cucumber season! I buy them in multiples this time of year; the first I eat straightaway, the second goes into Martha Rose Shulman’s beloved cucumber salad with soy, ginger and garlic. (After 3,000 ratings, it holds a five-star average.) I play fast and loose with this recipe — I often sub gochugaru for the cayenne, and I’ll smash the cucumbers instead of slicing them if I’ve had a day. But in any iteration, it’s always the sort of refreshing, easy green side I want to eat with my rice bowls.
Speaking of smashing things (and having rough days) — here’s Hetty Lui McKinnon’s recipe for crispy potato tacos. Boiled and smushed potatoes are mixed with cheese and stuffed into a tortilla, which is then pressed into a hot oiled pan for golden brown double-carb comfort. Also comforting — in that it’s built on a pantry staple and comes together in a half-hour — is Kay Chun’s linguine and clams with fresh red sauce. Kay turns canned whole clams into a bright, briny sauce by simmering them with burst cherry tomatoes, garlic and an assuring pat of butter. Serve with an icy glass of white wine and the new season of “Only Murders in the Building.”
Lastly, a recipe for the sweetest pantry staple of them all: sweetened condensed milk. It’s the base for all sorts of easy desserts and beverages, like blueberry cream Popsicles and no-churn olive oil ice cream, Brazilian lemonade and Thai iced tea. In Tejal Rao’s recipe for quick mango kulfi, sweetened condensed milk is mixed with heavy cream, lime, cardamom and mango pulp for a luxurious frozen treat. A reader, Dee, has a helpful tip for the plastic wrap used to unmold the kulfi — “Lick it clean first. Delish!”
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Sam’s on deck for Friday, and Melissa will be back with you later in August! And if I’ve sold you on the virtues of a rice cooker, here’s Wirecutter’s guide to the best rice cookers out there. My Zojirushi model has been going strong for over a decade; it sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” when it’s done doing its thing. Delightful.