Oil is ubiquitous as a tabletop condiment in Japan, and tiny bottles of rāyu (chili oil) are a familiar sight for anyone who has visited a traditional izakaya pub and made their own gyōza (dumpling) sauce.

Avid readers may recall a crispy version as one of the toppings for my Shan-style noodle recipe last summer, but that was far from the end of the story for “chili crunch,” as some call the sauce. Celebrity chef David Chang of Momofuku fame attempted to trademark the phrase, and when English-speaking Asian condiment lovers around the world raised pitchforks en masse, he backed down, shocked and awed, it seems, by the backlash.