How The Humble Sriracha Become The “Hottest” Condiment

If you had ever dined in at any Vietnamese restaurant in Australia, there’s a high chance that you’ve came across the iconic Sriracha bottle (also known as the “rooster sauce”) - It’s hard to miss! The bright red-orange sauce and all white illustration of a rooster and the busy font really calls out for your attention.

What is Sriracha? Sriracha is a vegan and gluten friendly sauce made of chili peppers, sugar, garlic, distilled vinegar, and salt. The taste varies by brand, but generally it’s tangy, sweet, garlic and of course, spicy! Its consistency varies according to brand some are similar in consistency to ketchup, while the original Thai recipe has a thinner, more liquid consistency.

So then, where does sriracha fall in the Scoville scale? Typically, Sriracha is made from red jalapeño peppers, the fully ripened form of the chili. Depending on the crop of peppers used, sriracha can range from 1,000 to 2,500 Scoville units.

 

Where is Sriracha from and why is it so popular?

Sriracha may be known as a condiment made popular by a Vietnamese refugee who made his way to America, but it's believed to have originated in Thailand in the town of Sri Racha by a local woman named Thanom Chakkapak.

In 1949, with the backing of her friends and family members, Chakkapak began to bottle and sell her homemade sauce under the name Sriraja Panich. It became an immediate staple in the area as a dipping sauce for seafood and its popularity slowly spread around the region.

Fast forward to 1975, David Tran, a Vietnam native, started making and selling his own version of the popular hot sauce using the chili peppers that was grown on his brother’s farm outside Saigon.

For a while, Tran enjoyed success in his home country. Unfortunately for him, three years later, the government of Vietnam started pressuring the country's ethnic Chinese residents to leave the country. Tran and his family boarded the Taiwanese freighter Huy Fong, which means "gathering prosperity," which was bound for Hong Kong. The family eventually decided to resettle in California in 1979.

In California, Tran restarted his business after realising that there is a demand for hot sauce among the young migrant community. He rented a factory in Chinatown, Los Angeles and began his operations from scratch as a one-man operation. Tran worked hard to build his dreams and did everything from mixing up batches of sriracha to filling each bottle by hand to delivering them to customers all across Chinatown in his Chevy van.

His hard work paid off and word about his hot sauce spread. Starting in the early '80s, the iconic “rooster sauce” started popping up in restaurants and supermarkets around California and soon spread to other states.

In its December 2009, Bon Appetit named Tran's Huy Fong Sriracha sauce its 2010 Ingredient of the Year, opening it to a whole new generation of foodies and taking the world by storm.

If you hop onto the Huy Fong website, they brand themselves as an American garlic chili pepper sauce, a true nod to the American dream.

 

 

How to Use Sriracha Sauce

Like most hot sauces, Sriracha is extremely versatile. Here are a few ways to enjoy the spicy sauce:

Straight out of the bottle: Sriracha’s original use was as a dipping sauce. Squeeze some into a small bowl or squirt it straight from the bottle onto your favourite foods.

Mix it with other sauces: Sriracha’s spicy, tangy flavor pairs wonderfully with creamy dips and sauces. Mix some Sriracha into sour cream, mayonnaise, or cream cheese-based dips for a little kick.

Soups and Stews: Sriracha is often served with pho in Vietnamese restaurants. But some people have been adding it to their ramen, tomato soup, gazpacho and creamy soups, like chowders for an extra kick.

Meats and Marinades: Sriracha and meat are the perfect combo. The best way to use Sriracha is to use them as flavored marinades for your BBQ meat or chicken wings.

Eggs and Cheese: Anything creamy, including cheese and egg yolks, balances perfectly with the spicy, tangy flavor of Sriracha. Add Sriracha to macaroni and cheese, cheese dips, cheese balls, or scrambled, fried, or deviled eggs.

Drinks: Set aside the tabasco sauce! Sriracha sauce can add a new twist to Bloody Marys or regular tomato or vegetable juice.

 

Purchasing Sriracha Sauce

Thanks to the popularity of “the rooster” Sriracha sauce, it can now be found in most major supermarkets across Australia where it is sold in the Asian foods section. However, if you like to have your pick of other brands and varieties of Sriracha, it is always best to get them directly from your Asian grocer. Check out Asian Pantry’s selection of Sriracha sauces on our website here!

 

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