Spicy, crunchy, its ingredients steeped in oil, chili crisp is a condiment with the cachet that it can elevate anything — from a plate of noodles to a bowl of chocolate ice cream. A craze for the sauce was inspired by the Chinese brand Lao Gan Ma. But there are other options as well. Now a newcomer, a US company called Fifth Taste, has introduced oo’mämē (pronounced umami) — a line of chile crisp in four different renditions with layers of heat, spice, sweetness, and texture made in small batches without preservatives. A jar has more than a dozen ingredients immersed in high oleic sunflower oil — crispy chiles, toasted nuts, seeds, fermented black beans, dried fruits, herbs, and spices. Each is a twist on the traditional and brings a different cuisine to whatever it touches. The Szechuan, the fieriest, blends Szechuan peppercorns and crushed red pepper, crunchy peanuts, and garlic and shallots. One labeled Oaxaca, Mexico, incorporates chipotles, pepitas, coriander seeds, and orange peels. Kerala, India, captures the region’s taste with Kashmiri chiles, tamarind, and masala spice; another, named Fez, Morocco, combine spices, almonds, and figs. Fifth Taste’s founder Mark Engle lived in China and Taiwan for years, as a student and later a businessman, eating his way through markets and at backstreet restaurants. “There’s a purpose for everything in the jar,” says Engle. A spoonful or two will make everything more delicious. ($16 for 9.2 ounces) To order, visit oomame.net.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at email@example.com.