This Chili Oil Is So Good, Even My Taiwanese Mom Is Obsessed With It

She was bowled over by how great it smells and tastes.

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Fly by Jing Sichuan Chili Oil

The best way I could describe my Taiwanese family's fridge growing up was like a revolving door. Feeding a family of six, it was constantly changing. In with the stock pot of beef noodle soup, out with the gai lan for lunch; in with the plastic bags of peaches and Yuhebao lychees, out with the Aiwen mangoes and watermelons for after-dinner desserts. Yet if you asked my mom, who commandeered the kitchen (and therefore the fridge), there was always a spot reserved for one essential condiment: chili crisp.

Everyone in my family had their preferred style of chili crisp, and my mom always kept her dearest jar from our local Hakka restaurant away from the sneaky hands of my siblings. So when I opened Fly By Jing's Sichuan Chili Crisp, which I've long heard great things about, I fully expected her to only nod in polite appreciation. Little did I expect her to be bowled over by how well it smells and tastes with a wide-eyed "oh, wow." It's now the first thing she reaches for when cooking and the last thing she wants to put back in the fridge. She's been visiting me over the last few weeks, and our meals together have all started and ended with this incredible jar of explosive flavors.

Fly by Jing Chili Oil
Courtesy of Fly By Jing

To buy: Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp, $15 at flybyjing.com

Nothing—and I mean nothing—has ever impressed my mom as much as Fly By Jing's Sichuan Chili Crisp. She loves it so much that she's requested multiple bottles to bring home and share with her friends. Just by taking a whiff of the jar, I knew why. The chili crisp features a head-spinning melange of aromas from dried chili pepper, fermented black beans, shallots, garlic, sesame oil, mushroom powder, and seaweed—all of which work together to create one of the most mouth-watering condiments I've ever come across.

Even though the small jar of chili crisp contains plenty of ingredients, each element stands out when you try it. At the first mouthful, you'll immediately get hits of the wonderfully smoky peppercorn and sesame oil. Let it roll between your cheeks and teeth, and you'll taste the umami notes from the blend of shallots, mushroom powder, garlic, and spices. The aftertaste in your throat simply leaves you wanting more.

Hints of sweetness from the seaweed means you won't be burned by the red hot spices that came before it, so it's perfect for people like me who have low spice tolerance. I used to be curious as to why my family insisted on dowsing their meals with slicks of chili crisp, but having tried Fly By Jing's Sichuan Chili Crisp, which gives a kick of tangy spiciness without burning your throat, I now understand the allure. It elevates anything that goes with it, adding peppery notes and depth to traditional beef noodle soups, even more spiciness to steamed fish with ginger, and a punch of sweetness to stir-fried pork.

Other Fly By Jing selections impressed us too, like the 3-year-aged doubanjiang that the company imported from Pixian Douban Co., a legendary 300-year-old brand from Sichuan, and a 10-year-aged black vinegar by Sichuan-based Qian-He Foods that's perfect for adding hints of acidity to dishes like braised napa cabbage. Yet the highlight is definitely the Sichuan Chili Crisp—it's unlike anything we've ever tasted, and has turned me into a full spicy food convert. Shop Fly by Jing's selections below for as little as $15, including a 2021 holiday box that's full of the best the brand has to offer.

Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp

Fly by Jing Chili Oil
Courtesy of Fly By Jing

To buy: $15 at flybyjing.com

Fly By Jing Pixian Douban Co. 3-Year-Aged Doubanjiang

Fly by Jing Chili Oil
Courtesy of Fly By Jing

To buy: $25 at flybyjing.com

Fly By Jing Qian-He 10-Year-Aged Black Vinegar

Fly by Jing Chili Oil
Courtesy of Fly By Jing

To buy: $20 at flybyjing.com

Fly By Jing Holiday Gift Set

Fly by Jing Chili Oil
Courtesy of Fly By Jing

To buy: $120 at flybyjing.com

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