Granola fanatics, rejoice: Now there’s a granola you can have for lunch and dinner. Bad Seed’s Chili Granola combines typical granola suspects—almonds, rolled oats, hemp seeds, and puffed rice—with some ingredients that are not part of your usual breakfast. We’re talking about sesame oil, ginger, garlic, tamari, and gochujang, the fermented Korean chile paste in bibimbap. This is, in fact, what we call “opening a can of whoop ass” … in your mouth.
The granola was born the way most great recipes are started: in someone’s Brooklyn kitchen, through trial and experiment. For the eclectic group of makers–app developers Peter Cortez and Joe Sayaman, creative director Matt Ferrin, and photographer Penny Des Los Santos–the chili granola was an experiment gone right. The group was no stranger to weird condiments, thanks to their worldly travels, says Sayaman. “We all travel quite a bit, and have tasted condiments, spicy and otherwise, from Southeast Asia, Latin America, India and the Middle East,” says Sayaman. “A lot of people think sambal, harissa or shrimp paste is weird and funky, until you taste it. Chili Granola started out as the same. When we first started testing it, our friends had no idea what they were in for, until they tasted it and they just wanted more.”
Sayaman says the fun of the chili granola has been to introduce people to new, unexpected combinations of flavors. “Sometimes you forget, or are even unaware, of how multi-dimensional a condiment can be,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be one note–just spicy, or just savory, or just smooth. We were inspired by how you put rayu in ramen and it elevates the dish. It’s spicy and garlicky, and it adds texture. We wanted chili granola to be just as surprising–not only spicy and savory, but garlicky, sweet, nutty and crunchy.”
Did we mention it’s spicy? Yes, almost overly so. We’re not afraid of heat and like our food to have bold flavors, but even though this is something you probably wouldn’t mix into your morning yogurt, it’s tempting to grab some anyway, just to put out the fire. And the jury’s still out on whether “granola” is the right name for this product. It’s not quite crunchy enough; bathed in chili oil, the texture and consistency remind us of granola that’s been sitting in yogurt for too long. Still, the Asian-inspired flavors at play here allow you to venture into some creative territory. Think lettuce wraps filled with lemongrass pork, cilantro, and mint. Or, banh mi taken to the next level—swap this in for the usual sliced jalapeños. Perhaps the most enticing possibility, though, is to top Chinese rice porridge, or jook with this stuff. (Trust us, jook will be the next big thing at brunch.) It’ll make fried shallots as a topping look positively tame by comparison. Heck, even Sayaman and the team recommends putting chili granola on watermelon salad (you read that right). Just, whatever you do, don’t call this granola.
You can pick up a jar at Whole Foods Gowanus, Depanneur, or from Dumbo’s MOUTH.