There are some dishes that I just can’t cook at home. Many Asian recipes, in particular, fall into this category for me. The times I wanted to attempt the more sophisticated Chinese dishes my parents cooked, it seemed too complex and I quickly became discouraged. They involved ingredients that weren’t always readily available at the local market and recipes that were usually comprised of instructions like “a splash” of this and “a handful” of that. And if I couldn’t even muster up the courage to cook food of my own culture in an authentic way, I sure didn’t feel confident in my abilities to recreate my favorite Thai, Vietnamese, or Filipino dishes either.

As a result, I continued to order takeout and reserved cooking sessions at home for simple one-pan meals that required no more than 3 ingredients or 30 minutes of prep time. While everyone else was mastering new, complicated culinary techniques or cultivating the perfect sourdough starter over the past few months, I rotated the same recipes over and over again. That is, until I met Omsom.

 

omsom asian starter sauce

 

I came across Omsom before the company launched when it was originally named Oxtale. The two sisters behind the start-up, Kim and Vanessa Pham, shared their ambitions to revolutionize the way Asian cuisine is cooked in order to stay true to the bold flavors without compromising the integrity of the recipe or ingredients.

This was exactly what I needed, and I couldn’t wait to place my order as soon as they revealed their first products, which are called Omsom starters. Starters are individually portioned packets full of all the sauces, aromatics, and seasonings needed to cook classic Asian dishes like an expert. 

I ordered the full-sized packs of their Southeast Asian line, which were developed in collaboration with some of New York City’s leading Southeast Asian chefs, like Jimmy Ly of Madame Vo, Nicole Ponseca of Jeepney, and Chat and Ohm Suansilphong of Fish Cheeks. The lineup features starters for Vietnamese Lemongrass BBQ, Thai Larb, and Philipino Sisig.

Aside from the starters, the only additional ingredients needed are a protein and some veggies. Normally, achieving the flavor for these dishes at home wouldn’t be possible without a trip to the Asian grocery store, which is a 30-minute drive away from where I live, since the local supermarket chains by me don’t carry Asian goods beyond soy sauce and the occasional bottle of Sriracha. 

 

 

My starters arrived quickly and were beautifully packaged in soft, matte satchels adorned with bright, fiery colors. They’re so gorgeous that I’m seriously considering repurposing them as fashion accessories, since they’re the perfect size to hold my credit cards, phone, and keys as a clutch.

 

I loved that I could follow the recipe cards that were included and make the classic dishes that the starters were named after, or choose-my-own-adventure by using any form of protein or veggie I liked. I decided to make chicken wings with the Vietnamese Lemongrass BBQ starter for dinner and quickly threw together three pounds of wings with three starter packets into a bowl to marinate over the next two hours. The starter’s mouth-watering scent hit me immediately after I opened it and brought me back to the times I ordered my usual BBQ pork at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in New York City. I wanted to chug the liquid gold straight from the packet, but I figured I’d save that for another night. 

When it was time to cook the wings, I spread them onto a sheet pan, drizzled the remaining contents of the bowl over the chicken, and popped it into the oven. I sliced cucumber to serve on the side and steamed rice to soak up the flavors. As soon as the timer rang, I opened the oven to find golden chicken wings done to perfection with an unbelievable aroma that nearly knocked me off my feet. The skin shimmered in the oven light from the lemongrass marinade. I knew it was going to be a good dinner.

I took my first bite of chicken and knew that Omsom would be a staple in my pantry and something I’d gift to friends and family for the rest of my life. It was juicy. It was tangy. It was sweet. It was savory. It had all the flavor notes I was familiar with in Vietnamese cooking. I was able to create an incredible meal using the most sophisticated mix of spices by just tearing a packet open. I could hardly believe it.

The Omsom brand is one that is easy to respect and admire. They celebrate Asian culture and communities while making home-cooked Asian cuisine more accessible for everyone. They’re my meal saviors that empower me to whip up dishes that I otherwise don’t believe I’d be able to cook. I’m excited to continue cooking and eating with Omsom. If you’re a fan of food and eating, you definitely need to try it.

To learn more about the brand and order some for yourself, check out their website here. 

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