Omsom Asian Seasonings Have a Whole Lotta Flavor and a Whole Lotta Cred
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“Real Asian flavors that take you home.” The phrase scrolls across Omsom’s website like a news ticker, sandwiched between a tout that orders over $29 ship free and a “shop starters” banner. It’s a simple line of marketing copy, but it made me emit a small yelp of surprise. How often had I encountered a brand that presumed that Asian flavors taste like home?
Omsom sells something it calls starters, which are essentially sauces with all the flavor components needed to make a specific Asian dish like bulgogi or larb. They come packaged in resealable pouches (which I prefer so I can customize the amount of seasoning I add to my dish) or single-use packets, and you can also buy sampler packs that showcase the flavors of East or Southeast Asia. The bright umami-rich Filipino sisig starter contains vinegar, garlic, mushroom powder, and calamansi purée. The Vietnamese lemongrass barbecue option has just the right amount of savory funk, thanks to Red Boat fish sauce, lemongrass, and oyster sauce. The Thai larb starter consists of not one but two packets, one with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili flakes and the other with toasted rice powder for that essential nutty flavor.
Southeast Asian Omsom Sampler
Each starter comes with instructions on how to make a composed dish using the seasoning packet. Although the recipes are simple, coming together in the time it takes to sauté some meat and chop some veg, they’re not dumbed down. Omsom doesn’t assume that I would prefer a boneless, skinless chicken breast as the catchall protein (I would not). Several of the recipes call for pork belly—eternally popular in many Asian cuisines, but aside from a brief brush with trendiness circa 2005, not a mainstream cut for many white Americans—although if you’d like to use the traditional pig’s snout, cheeks, and ears for the sisig, I’m sure Omsom would approve.
For those nights when even turning on the stove is too much meal prep, the latest addition to the Omsom family is a set of six starters (two each of the Vietnamese lemongrass barbecue, Korean bulgogi, and Chinese mala salad seasoning pouches) with recipes specifically created for Instant Pots and air fryers. They come together in a snap, and you can look forward to spicy bulgogi braised pork or crispy, air fried lemongrass cauliflower and mala chicken wings with little more work than pushing a button.
Instant Pot Omsom Sampler
That Omsom speaks with a decidedly Asian American voice is thanks to its founders, Vietnamese American sisters Kim and Vanessa Pham. To develop their starters, they sought out chefs who could deliver on Omsom’s promise of “no more diluted dishes, no more cultural compromise,” including Amelie Kang of the MáLà Project, Jimmy Ly of Madame Vo, and Chat and Ohm Suansilphong of Fish Cheeks. The results are so satisfying my only quibble is that I wish they came in family size jars; I’d save a space for a vat of the lemongrass barbecue starter right next to my 25 oz. jar of Lao Gan Ma chili crisp.
If you’re not used to having your experience centered, it can be giddy-making when you realize that a company is talking to you. And that can feel pretty radical if you’ve spent a lifetime seeing grocery aisles full of “homestyle” chicken pot pie and “grandma’s” tomato sauce that don’t particularly remind you of home or grandma. For us Asian kids, Omsom provides the shortcuts to nourishing, flavor-packed meals—just like Mom used to make.