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Heat of the Moment

The other day the food editors were enjoying sticky  rice cakes, inspired by a recipe for a traditional Laotian snack. Soy sauce and Sriracha were the condiments. I didn’t use Sriracha, but got to thinking how much I would’ve loved some sambal oelek (pictured here), the Indonesian chile paste.

In the world of Asian condiments, the fiery sting, vinegary bite, salty punch and chile seed-studded texture of sambal plays the part of whole-seed Dijon mustard to Sriracha’s smooth, sugary ketchup. And sambal works well with all kinds of foods.

I sometimes use it to spice up eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, stews, sauces, marinades, and various other dishes. Frankly, I use it more often than I’d like to admit. Get yourself an 18-ounce jar. Which sounds like a ton for such a potent relish—a little goes a long, long way.

Still, I bet you’ll need more very soon.