I’ve been working from home for something like eight years and I’m somehow still awful at making myself lunch. I sucked at it before COVID and I’m even worse at it now; if I don’t have leftovers in the fridge, my chances of eating a complete, nutritious midday meal decrease to approximately zero.
Thankfully, I’m starting to make progress on this front, and I owe it all to a single recipe. New York Times food writer and cookbook author Eric Kim’s tuna mayo rice bowl (TMRB, to me) has saved my ass more times than I can count this year; at least for me, there is no finer work-from-home lunch. It’s delicious, cheap, filling, and has a ton of protein (about 30 grams), all which matter very much to me at this point in my life. Most importantly, though, it’s easy—like, “easier than showering” easy—and fast. If you’re using leftover rice, you can have a TMRB in five minutes flat, which is a lot less time than it takes to invent reasons to not make lunch. (Making a fresh batch of rice obviously takes longer, but it also gives you 15 or 20 minutes to do some dishes or whatever while the rice cooker does its thing. Pros and cons.)
Here’s my TMRB process, which is more or less identical to Kim’s except that it uses one less dish. First, thoroughly drain a five-ounce can of tuna and dump it into a soup bowl or onto a dinner plate. Add 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil, and a generous splash of soy sauce. Mix well and adjust the seasoning as needed. Scoot the tuna mixture to one side and add as much hot white rice as you’re hungry for. Season the rice with a splash of rice vinegar and furikake, then add some scallions, sesame seeds, sliced cucumber, or whatever else you want. (My favorite addition so far: Sliced cherry tomatoes tossed with soy sauce, sugar, and an absolute ton of chopped scallions.)
Nine times out of ten, I make my tuna mayo rice bowl exactly as written—mayo, sesame oil, soy sauce, furikake, done—but as you might imagine, there are roughly a million ways to tweak it to your taste. A shower of freshly cracked black pepper on top of the tuna sounds super basic, but believe me, it sings with the sesame oil. If you don’t (or can’t) have sesame oil, swap it for hot chili oil; use teriyaki sauce or ponzu instead of soy sauce; for even more protein, add a hard-boiled egg. Whether you keep it simple or jazz it up, tuna mayo rice bowl will never let you down.