A Sandwich a Day: The Tunisian Tuna Sandwich at Balaboosta
In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
I had a friend who used to work in an office where he'd go out for a tuna salad sandwich for lunch every afternoon. He'd order his sandwich with extra onions, chopped olives, and pickled peppers, then bring it back and eat it at his desk. Surrounded by co-workers.
Notice I said he used to work there.
I don't often eat a tuna sandwich, but when I do, I do it away from my co-workers. These days, that's usually at Balaboosta, which may just have my favorite rendition of the sandwich ever, and no, it's not exactly office-friendly.
The key to the sandwich ($12) is in the tuna salad itself: High quality olive-oil packed tuna gets a generous mix-in of house-made harissa. I like the stuff from a tube just fine, but Balaboosta's is something else entirely; complex with four types of dried chilies (including smoked paprika and chipotles), and fragrant with a half dozen other spices, with coriander and cumin leading the charge.
On top, you get layers of thinly sliced hard boiled egg, sliced potato, and sweet-tart pickled shredded carrots. The whole thing is sealed up in a soft mini ciabatta-like roll and pressed until crisp, the tuna barely warmed through. Served with a side salad, it's a pretty ideal lunch.
To eat on your own, that is.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.