Kitchn Love Letters

The Unexpected Spicy Topping That Takes Boring Ice Cream to the Next Level (Trust Me!)

published Jul 29, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Sichuan Chili Crisp Lifestyle Image
Credit: Fly By Jing

As a former pastry chef, I’m always on the quest for bold, mouthwatering flavors. And I especially love when I find delicious kitchen staples that are versatile enough to be incorporated into every meal. Spicy, acidic, sweet, crunchy, silky . . . hand me a jar of anything tasty and chances are it won’t last a week in my house. Now, you may know about my infatuation with the funky fermentation masters over at Acid League, or maybe you read the post where I gushed about the salty chocolate tahini from Soom that I was quite literally eating by the spoonful, or maybe you just recently heard about my discovery of Fly By Jing’s Triple Threat — a trio of flavorful essentials I’ve been pouring over ever single dinner lately.

Long story short, if you know me personally, when I get a taste of something good, there’s just no turning back. Which is exactly how I felt about Fly By Jing’s best-selling condiment that’s featured in Triple Threat. You’ve probably heard of it by now, whether it’s from a hip friend or from a colorful social media post: the Sichuan Chili Crisp.

Why has the unique stuff risen to such infectious fame recently? Well, it’s nothing like anything else you’ve ever tasted. Much like FBJ’s entire lineup, the Sichuan Chili Crisp is the brainchild of the brand’s founder, Jing Gao, who’s on a mission to infuse the flavors of her hometown Chengdu with cheffy, new-wave twists. Oh, and everything these flavors masters put out is crafted with the intention of generating thoughtful dialogue and open minds. Pretty inspiring right? The result of all their efforts is this totally new flavor and texture in a jar that fits right in with the rest of their line of unparalleled edible goods.

The Chili Crisp is essentially a jar of crunchy, umami-packed chili and pepper bits (bound together with mushroom powder, seaweed, fermented black bean, and all sorts of allium) suspended in vibrant, orange rapeseed oil. It’s a grounded flavor, thanks to the mushroomy, earthy undertones in the crispy bits, but it’s also spicy. Because the chili and peppers featured in this are traditional (and prized) Sichuan ingredients, they possess that acclaimed tongue-numbing quality, but it’s more mild in this crunchy sauce.

So basically, I put this yumminess onto or into everything I make. I swirl the stuff into Greek yogurt with a squirt of lime juice or to top chimichurri salmon or broiled broccolini. I spoon it onto buttery, plain white rice. I add it to the pan while I sauté mushrooms. I pour it onto take-out, of all cuisines. On top of avocado toast. On top of fried eggs. Inside a quesadilla . . . Okay, you get the idea.

Credit: Stella Totino

But recently, I saw an all new use for it on Fly By Jing’s site: Sichuan Chili Crisp on ice cream. I had to try it. So I pulled out a pint of Alec’s Vanilla Ice Cream, which is by far the smoothest, creamiest, hands-down tastiest frozen delight I’ve tasted (and the only brand of dairy ice cream my lactose intolerant stomach can tolerate). I spooned a big scoop of ice cream, then topped it with the spicy, savory Chili Crisp. I was skeptical, but I shouldn’t have been.

The cooling, sweet cream mixed with the tingly, spicy, salty oil and crunch resulted in the most unique dessert I’ve ever had. And by unique, I mean seriously scrumptious. Upon seeing my creation, my boyfriend quickly rushed over, gulping down spoonfuls (he’s already made the treat for himself twice since) of the fun, vibrant bowl. Although both of us are adventurous eaters, I think there’s no denying this is one heck of a combo.

No matter how you plan to consume the versatile condiment (I really do suggest the ice cream method — I’m trying strawberry ice cream next!), one thing’s for certain: Your jar will be empty before you know it. This is one scenario where the hype was totally real — take my word for it!