Chili Crisp and Exquisite Fast Food at Milu

Where were you during the Great Chili-Crisp Craze of 2020? It ranks as barely a blip in that extraordinary year yet still is useful in defining it. Chili crisp—commonly associated with Lao Gan Ma, a brand started some thirty years ago by a noodle-shop owner in China’s Guizhou Province, who became a billionaire after bottling her recipe—is a thick and crunchy chili-oil-based condiment that might include fried garlic, Sichuan peppercorn, sesame seeds, or fermented black beans among its ingredients. It keeps indefinitely and can be used to perk up just about anything, the ultimate shortcut for the home cook. Last spring, it rose to prominence as, arguably, the condiment of the pandemic. A variety produced in Chengdu, Sichuan, by a U.S.-based company called Fly by Jing became a commodity so hot that there was a months-long wait list, and Momofuku’s Chili Crunch sold out within hours of its début.

The
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