I'm Pouring These Chefs' Spice Blends on Pretty Much Everything I Eat
Sazon's greetings from Isaac Toups, Preeti Mistry, Hawa Hassan, and Eric Rivera.
Full disclosure: New Orleans chef Isaac Toups is a dear friend. Fuller disclosure: Yes, I love him for his king-sized heart and swift Cajun wit (and the fact that I completely trust that he could rescue me from the clutches of a peckish alligator if need be), but it doesn't hurt that I dig the man's cooking big time. In a non-pandemic year, I'd have popped down to NOLA for some soul and stomach replenishment at least a couple times, but it seems I'll have to summon the flavor home to Brooklyn for the time being. Right now, that's coming in the form of Isaac's seasoning blend collection from Spiceology—and in particular, the Fryclone.
Put it this way: I flipped open the container's top to dust a little on the okra I'd just roasted, and I hit the wrong half, causing about two full tablespoons of Fryclone seasoning to deluge onto the plate. Rather than scooping the excess back into the jar or tossing it out, I proceeded to dredge every pod—plus sweet potatoes and roasted chicken—into the pile until there was none left. And then I sprinkled more. It's a deeply savory, zesty, balanced blend of green chiles, Parmesan cheese, vinegar, and horseradish in powder form, and though the package features an image of Isaac dousing a pile of French fries with the seasoning, I have yet to find a food it doesn't complement. Right this second I imagined it caked thickly on the rim of a green tomato bloody mary and I may have blacked out for a moment. I lead a breakfast-centric life these days because what even are "clocks" and "the sun," so I'm especially versed in Fryclone's affinity for eggs and hot cereal. It's a little jolt at the (alleged) start to the day, but it's just as useful for adding a big ol' bass note of umami and piccolo trill of puckery heat to roasted vegetables, broiled fish, grilled meats, and un-shockingly enough, all manner of potatoes and squash.
In an alternate (and better universe), this blend would likely be as ubiquitous as ranch powder or Lawry's—both solid options, of course—but if you're living in this reality, you can order it from Spiceology as part of a seasoning four-pack along with Isaac's Thunderdust (onion, bell pepper, celery, white pepper, and garlic), Louisiana Lightning (mustard, white pepper, celery salt, garlic, and cayenne pepper), and Heatwave (black pepper, chile de Arbol, Aleppo pepper, and salt) or solo in 3.4, 14.5, or 28-ounce containers. Y'all know which size I would suggest and hey, your order ships free if it's $39.99 or more so you might as well stock up.
While you're in a clicking and shopping state of mind, you might as well knock out your gift list with chef and cookbook author's Preeti Mistry's Spicewalla collection. It features the sambar masala, smokey black cardamom, and mustard fenugreek that are key to Juhu Beach Club's bold and brilliant interpretation of Indian cuisine, and comes in pretty, poppy, rainbow flag-bedecked tins that you or a lucky recipient will want to keep refilling. Ditto for Spicewalla's with Hawa Hassan, which features a selection of the beloved chef and author's favorite East African flavors—berbere, garam masala, and harissa—along with a copy of her book of the same name.
To buy: Preeti Mistry 3-pack ($16.99) or In Bibi's Kitchen 3-pack with cookbook ($46); spicewalla.com
And should you still be in need of seasonings for the holidays, the conscientious cook in your life who may be searching for an alternate to Goya will be thrilled to have a stocking full of Eric Rivera's adobo (standard or spicy), sazon (standard, saffron, spicy, or even a currently-sold-out-but-let's-dream scented candle), hot sauce (individual or by subscription), or other Puerto Rican pantry staples. The Addo chef-owner had always diversified the restaurant's ecosystem with a range of experiences and merchandise (as well as a charity arm), but since the pandemic's cook-at-home boom—and the political revelations of Goya's leadership came to light—he's amped up spice blend production, expanded the range of products on offer, and even added an online plant shop just because he felt like it. Everything ships nationwide at a $10 flat rate for domestic non-perishable orders under $75 and free if it's over. Sazon's greetings, indeed.
To buy: sazon and adobo ($8-$29), hot sauce (starts at $15), and other pantry staples; ericriveracooks.com