I love Genevieve Ko. To be clear, I don’t know her, but when a stranger changes your life in a good way what’s not to love?
First, some background and context for this new crush. I am a huge fan of chile crisp, the reigning condiment of the year in our household. While I love the version that I first discovered, and shared here, it is a total pain in the arse to make. It involves lots of labor and time, at least one special ingredient you might not have on hand (star anise) and requires way too much focus with sharp knives. Furthermore, having undertaken the labor of love that is small-batch chile crisp production, it was always a gamble to give it to someone; if I later found out they didn’t love it, I kind of wanted to cry.
But then, I discovered Genevieve Ko’s version of chile crisp, or rather it discovered me, tenaciously popping up in my searches before the OG version. I hesitated to try it because it looked too easy to be good. Other than the Sichuan peppercorns (a bag of which will cost 2.99 and last you exactly forever) it involves no special ingredients. More importantly, it involves no chopping. And yet, it still has all the key elements of chile crisp: it’s crunchy, savory, spicy, salty and a just a tiny bit sweet.
This chile crisp is a slightly different animal than the classic—especially with the added twist of sesame seeds– but I think I like it even better. It’s hard to say because the ease of preparation makes me want to like it better. For sure it is on a different planet than Lao Gan Ma, the supposed King Daddy of commercially produced chili crisp. Sadly, I trusted the googleverse and bought a huge vat, which is still taking up space in the fridge. Trader Joe’s chile crisp is similar in texture but can’t hold a candle in taste.
Make yourself up a batch, or better yet a double batch, because you’ll want this on eggs, pizza, sandwiches, quesadillas, fresh bread, etc. You may find yourself creating chile crisp “fry sauce” by stirring it into ketchup and mayo, and then stumble upon Ms. Ko’s chile crisp fettucine which will make you realize a double batch really doesn’t last all that long.
As with any recipe from the NYT, people have a LOT to say in the comments, and there are plenty of suggestions for how to tweak this to your tastes.
I hope you enjoy this chile crisp as much as my people do!
Slacker Chile Crisp
Yield: About 1¼ cups
- ½ cup vegetable oil (or a bit more…there’s not a lot to spare here)
- ¼ cup dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1½teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- ⅓ cup finely crushed dried small red chiles or red-pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional…but Edie says not optional)
Combine the oil, onion, ½ teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes evenly golden brown (careful not to overcook), 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the chiles, sesame seeds and Sichuan peppercorns, if using, and sizzle, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Spoon over everything. I mean everything. Maybe not chocolate cake but then again…