What to Cook Right Now

J. Kenji López-Alt did a deep dive into one of America’s greatest sandwiches: the tuna crunch.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. J. Kenji López-Alt did some solid shoe-leather reporting for The Times last week, exploring the origins of one of America’s greatest sandwiches: the tuna crunch (above).

Now, maybe you’ve always put potato chips on or in your tuna-salad sandwiches. Maybe you’ve graduated to flavored chips, ruffled chips, Fritos or Doritos, papadums, any salty snack that gives the sandwich a juxtaposition of soft and crisp.

For those who’ve been at the tuna-crunch game a long time, Kenji offers coaching for using the chips. “The real trick” he writes, “is to fold them in at the last moment, before spooning it onto the bread, balancing another large handful of chips on top of the tuna, then closing the sandwich with a firm press to embed the chip layer into the salad. This lends the entire sandwich extra structural integrity, maintains that dynamic contrast and allows you to feel and hear the crunch even before your first bite.”

But for those of us who’ve never deployed potato chips like this (and I was one of them!), what Kenji’s reporting provides is a sense of incredible opportunity. A tuna-salad sandwich is already a certified classic recipe. To add chips to one is revelatory. I learned the lesson happily. I’ll never go back.

So, that’s lunch today, obviously. For dinner, though, my Magic 8 Ball is providing only noncommittal answers. I was thinking maybe mapo tofu. (“Reply hazy, try again.”) Or slow cooker chicken ragù with herbed ricotta. (“Cannot predict now.”) I gave beef negimaki a shot. (“Better not tell you now.”) Also, the spicy Thai shrimp salad known as pla goong. (“Ask again later.”)

But enough of this sorcery. There is never an evening not improved by Melissa Clark’s lemony pasta with chickpeas and parsley. Even the machine knows: “You may rely on it.”

There are thousands and thousands more recipes waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. (Picadillo! Spaghetti carbonara! Broccoli salad!) Yes, you do need a subscription to access them. Subscriptions support our work. They allow it to continue. If you haven’t already, will you consider subscribing today? Thank you.

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Now, it’s nothing to do with albacore or rice flour, but you really have to start reading Molly Young’s “Read Like the Wind” newsletter, for The Times. Her latest begins, “A few months ago one of my teeth fell out while I was eating a prune. (Look, I live a very glamorous life.)”

In Maclean’s, Jason Markusoff has the story of the most notorious illegal fisherman in British Columbia, worth reading. Poachers are a scourge.

Meta and interesting: Parker Posey looking back on an interview she gave Interview magazine in the 1990s, in Interview magazine today.

Finally, Amadou & Mariam are performing with the Blind Boys of Alabama at Town Hall in New York tonight. Here they are a while back, performing “I Can See.” Listen to that, cook something delicious and I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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