Chili Asylum: Local Spicy Condiments from an Independent Food VeteranDecember 5, 2016
With a name like “Chili Asylum,” you’re asking people to make a judgment. Like anyone who’s seen this brand out there, I wondered: “How hot could it be?”
Coming from a food background, owner Isi Laureano has been an instructor at culinary school, a food stylist, and now an entrepreneur. But it was through her family that she decided to make a line of spicy condiments. Starting with her lola’s recipe for atchara, Isi’s Chili Asylum line grew to include pesto, chimichurri, and even vegetarian chili.
When you first do a quick scan of the product line, all you’ll see is red. Some people might want run away, but urge them not to. The spicy papaya atchara isn’t that hot. It has a gentle heat to it, but you still get the expected sweetness and acidity from this popular pickle. Isi applies the same approach to the spicy moringa pesto—you still taste both the moringa and the pesto, but the thick sauce does not let itself get overwhelmed by the chili.
Laureano suggests using her spicy sauces as a condiment to different dishes or in cooking. The pickled chili garlic works best in marinades or as a dipping sauce for dishes such as Chinese dumplings. Meanwhile, the chili chutney proves a bit more versatile and could be paired with stir fry, ramen, or even ice cream.
The Spicy Bathala and Spicy Diwata ketchups might be more interesting if you’re looking for a stronger kick. While these don’t go under the brand name Chili Asylum, they’re not so different from the rest. Isi decided on making ketchups instead of hot sauces because she wanted a more unique product in the local markets. The divine-sounding sauce labels draw inspiration from Philippine folklore as way for Isi to connect the brand to local roots. She sources local ingredients too: tomatoes for the Spicy Bathala and pineapples for the Spicy Diwata.
Laureano’s Chili Asylum brand can be intimidating to those who avoid heat, but there’s nothing to worry about. There is a product for everyone on Isi’s line: spicy papaya atchara for the uninitiated and Spicy Bathala for chili lovers.
A local brand of condiments and sauces for chiliheads.