Published on January 18, 2020

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Photography by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Though I do pride myself on my spice tolerance (I rarely eat eggs without dousing them first with sriracha or Cholula), I’ve never been the type to spoon hot sauce right out of the jar and into my mouth. But that was before I tried Sichuan Chili Crisp, the spicy, umami condiment that has made Fly by Jing my new pantry MVP.

After first learning about Chili Crisp a year ago when I heard Bubble founder Jessica Young sing its praises, I grabbed some at a Pop-Up Grocer in New York. It was a minor splurge—I don’t regularly shell out $15 on a pantry item—but the moment I first sprinkled it on scrambled eggs with ramps, I knew that the infused oil with crunchy shallots and peppercorn wasn’t just any condiment. 

This sauce had secret ingredient potential. It would soon be the thing that would take my fried rice, chili, soups, and even pastas to the next level. Fly by Jing founder Jenny Gao gave me even more genius ideas for how to use it. “I love drizzling it on takeout bowls and salads, mixing it into mayonnaise to make a chili aioli for sandwiches, and braising meats with it (particularly good with pulled pork shoulder),” she says. “Some friends of mine have even been known to put it on chocolate chip cookies.” (Note to self: Pick up dough on the way home.) 

Sure, the condiment packs some heat, but it’s not overwhelming, thanks to it’s savory umami flavor, which complements, rather than smothers, whatever it touches, Gao explains. Made with 15 natural ingredients—including er jing tiao chiles, mushroom powder, and shallots—its silky texture makes it feel a little fancier than a regular bottle of hot sauce. 

Fair warning, a little goes a long way, but once you start putting it on everything, you can understand how, in just under a year, I’m already on my third jar. Plus, $15 is a small price for a final touch that makes virtually any meal—even a sad desk salad—taste infinitely better. 

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