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Not every dish turns out as well as one hopes. Sometimes the space between the complex stew you had aspired to and the underwhelming meal that’s in your bowl is a hairline fracture, fixable with a pinch of salt. Other times it’s a grand canyon full of missed opportunities, bad execution, and lack of inspiration. Whether my food needs a little help or a lot, I reach for Fly by Jing’s Zhong sauce. It fills all those gaps and more, making just-okay dishes taste great and great dishes taste amazing.

Inspired by the spicy-sweet Zhong dumplings beloved in Chengdu, Fly By Jing’s sauce is an all-purpose finishing condiment, one with a baseline of chili oil but a massive range of savory flavors beyond pure peppery heat. The chili oil is fortified with an umami-packed blend of soy sauce, mushroom powder, and toasted sesame oil. Underneath all those savory elements is a steady pulse of caramelly sweetness, a counterweight to salty soy and piquant chiles.

That balance is the key to Zhong sauce’s phenomenal versatility. Unlike some chili-based condiments, which simply dial up spiciness, this one is a firehose of flavor that meshes remarkably well with all kinds of dishes. I like to drape it on soft-scrambled eggs before rolling them into breakfast burritos and spread lines of it on grilled sausages alongside yellow mustard and pickle relish. I have put it on everything from nachos to dal to sandwiches, and in each case Zhong stepped in like culinary putty to pull it all together.

I may be Bon Appétit’s food director, but much like a cobbler with no shoes or a plumber with leaky pipes, my weeknight meals are a desperate scramble to put food on the table for four people with wildly different preferences. Corners are cut and shortcuts are taken in service of getting everyone at least a bit of something they will like; you will rarely catch me posting anything I have made on a weeknight on Instagram. Even professionals need help sometimes. Thankfully there’s Zhong sauce.

Shop Now: Zhong Sauce