Eats & Treats, Part I
50Hertz Tingly Foods
Nope, this company has nothing to do with rental cars, but everything to do with the famously tingly and mouth numbing Sichuan peppers.
50Hertz Tingly Foods sells an array of dried peppers, pepper oil, and pepper snacks. The company is named for the number of units of frequency per second that one experiences tingling from Sichuan pepper, according to scientists at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.
It was founded by Yao Zhao, a former green energy specialist at the World Bank in Washington, DC, who used his own savings to do so after becoming inspired by a pepper oil he brought back after visiting his mother in China. Last year out of thousands of entries, 50Hertz was selected as one of 14 newly established food brands by Target’s Forward Founders accelerator mentorship program.
Most people are familiar with the traditional red Sichuan peppers, which are most commonly available in Asian grocery stores. But 50Hertz also sells green Sichuan peppers, which are not an immature version but an entirely different plant. 50Hertz’s web site neatly sums up the two by comparing them to red and white wine: “Flavor-wise, the green is brighter, more aromatic, and pairs better with fish, seafood and vegetables, just like white wine, while the red is more full-bodied, woodsier and pairs better with tofu, red meat, like red wine.”
I had a chance to try samples recently. All it took was unwrapping the plastic seals on the dried pepper containers for my entire kitchen to be enveloped in the Sichuan pepper’s distinctive floral, camphor-like fragrance. Talk about freshness.
Speaking of which, you’ll want to first toast then grind the dried peppers ($14.95 for a 1.5-ounce jar; or $3 for a mini sample) right before using to ensure you get the most flavor from them before using them in your favorite stir-fry or even sprinkled on popcorn or potato chips.
The Red and Green Sichuan Pepper Oils ($14.95 for each 12ml bottle) can be used to cook with or drizzled on as a finisher. A little goes a long way, so start with a drop or two before you think of dousing your dish.
The green Sichuan peppers were thoroughly new to me. I especially loved a couple shakes of the Green Sichuan Pepper Oil on a dish of stir-fried shrimp with Chinese egg noodles. It imparted not only a tongue-tingling quality but perky lemony and grassy notes. I think it tastes a little less caustic than the red variety, too.
I also chopped some of the 50Hertz Tingly Peanuts ($8.50 for a 5.5-ounce can) and sprinkled it on top of the noodles for even more pleasant prickliness. The crunchy peanuts are so delicious that you can eat them by the handful. They are currently sold out on the web site, but a new shipment is going through customs right now, and should be available for soon.
Olivelle Black Garlic Tamari Soy Balsamic Vinegar
You’ll be hard pressed to settle for just regular soy sauce once you try Olivelle Black Garlic Tamari Soy Balsamic Vinegar.
Made with fermented black garlic, soy sauce, wine vinegar, and cooked grape juice, it provides a huge jolt of umami to anything it touches.
It’s ever so syrupy in texture, with a sweet molasses note balanced with saltiness.
Use it as a meat marinade or to punch up stir fries. Or fry up some frozen gyoza and drizzle some on to discover dumpling’s best friend.
A tablespoon has 25 calories, 5 grams of total sugars, and 410mg sodium. A 100ml bottle is $11.
Sustainable, Wild-Caught Season Sardines
If you’ve got a tin of seafood in the pantry, you’ve got a meal at the ready anytime.
That’s especially true if it’s Season Sardines. The New Jersey company prides itself on its certified wild-caught, sustainable Atlantic Ocean sardines that come packed skinless and boneless either in water or in olive oil.
If you’re wincing at that thought of canned sardines, rest assured that these are not aggressively fishy tasting. Instead, they are meaty and rich tasting. They have as much protein as sirloin steak — without the high cholesterol. And they are packed with good-for-you Omega-3.
I especially like the packed-in-oil variety because you can spoon some of that flavorful olive oil on to further flavor crostini or pasta or a salad.
The sardines come in a 4.375-ounce tin for about $2.77. One container constitutes 1 serving, with 150 calories, 20 grams of protein, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 3o0 grams sodium for the packed in water variety; or 200 calories with 22 grams of protein, 3 grams of saturated fat, 340 grams of sodium for the variety packed in olive oil.
More: Eats & Treats, Part II