SHELF LIFE IM­PULSE BUY

Abo­kichi Chili Okazu, Curry Okazu

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FOOD & DRINK - 250 mL, $9.99 avail­able at Toronto’s Abo­kichi Store abo­kichi. com or at foodie pages.ca A. Brouwer & A. Wil­son

Where does life be­gin? Shelf Life doesn’t have an­swers to the big meta­phys­i­cal ques­tions, but we’ve got a han­dle on some of the smaller items. Take, for ex­am­ple, th­ese unique Asian­in­spired condi­ments, which were con­ceived in a tiny retail space in Toronto. Abo­kichi own­ers Jess Man­tell and Fumi Tsukamoto started off sell­ing rice balls known as oni­giri in Ja­pan, as com­mon and as beloved as pizza slices, and then ex­panded into other ca­sual foods. Along the way, they per­fected a mashed- up con­coc­tion to go with the rice, made of sesame oil, miso paste, fried gar­lic and onion, and spices. Cus­tomers started buy­ing the condi­ment, dubbed Okazu, and found new uses for it: on eggs, burg­ers, sand­wiches, steak, chicken, pasta, and veg­eta­bles. And so a star was born, in two flavours: Chili and Curry. The Chili ver­sion has a lovely crunch from the sesame seeds and onions and gar­lic and the per­fectly blended spices con­fer an in­stant hit of ir­re­sistible umami.

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