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One Hot Rooster

September 13, 2009

After the New York Times article, it seems the rooster is out of the bag when it comes to Sriracha hot sauce.

So if you want to find out any of the basics about what it is or how it’s made, you’ll just have to read the piece from the Times.  But as a hot sauce librarian, I will help you understand how Sriracha fills a niche within your hot sauce library, and why it is my second most used (by volume) pepper sauce in the house.

First, I’d like to take you on a brief trip down memory lane.

I remember my first time coming into contact with Sriracha.  As with many mind-expanding things, I encountered the sauce in college.

It was my freshman year, and not having much money, the Chinese food truck across the street from the quad seemed like a perfectly reasonable place to get a giant plate of food for $3.  Yes, even then I was suspicious of the quality of their ingredients.  I suspected the chicken might be pigeon and if you told me the beef was dog I wouldn’t have been surprised.

There was really one thing that made this food palatable.

After filling your order, the kindly woman in the truck would ask, “Spicy?”  The correct answer is “Yes, please.”  At which point she would pick up a mysterious bottle of bright red sauce, with some manner of Asian lettering, and a picture of a rooster.  Then she would put several generous swirls all around the plate, and send you off to your doom.

I had no idea what that sauce was.  All I knew is that it made my cheap food taste more like chili peppers and less like whatever else was in the bowl.  And that was a good thing indeed.

Years passed and I came to understand that this sauce is the now storied Sriracha.  But it wasn’t until I read an article in Saveur magazine that detailed why the sauce was so good that I really gave it serious consideration.

And this is a serious pepper sauce.

Most of the other sauces in the library are sauces.  Sriracha too includes vinegar, but it’s not a sauce you pour or that you shake.  Sriracha gets squeezed.  It’s really more of a chili pepper puree.

And as a result, it’s hot.  But it’s much more a front of the mouth heat, which some people find much easier to take.  It is also vibrantly red.  So much so, the bottle has a starburst callout that reads “NATURAL COLOR.”

Beyond its assertive hot pepper flavor (that always gets the top of my head to perspire) I would be remiss if I failed to mention the deep garlic component to the sauce as well.

Naturally it goes beautifully with Asian foods.  I mix it into dipping sauces, top stir-fry and fried rice with it, and toss it with noodles.  I don’t think I could eat pho without it.  Speaking of noodles, one of the unspeakable atrocities I occasionally commit is mixing Sriracha into Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Let’s just say it’s versatile.

And it has the awesome green lid, which makes the bottle resemble a chili pepper.  How can you not love it?  Surely I consume an unhealthy quantity of the stuff.  But at least I balance my Sriracha consumption with Frank’s Red Hot and a few other choice bottles I will talk about in the weeks to come.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    September 13, 2009 9:13 am

    I love it on soft-boiled or poached eggs.

  2. September 13, 2009 9:50 am

    Sriracha is one of those hot sauces I just can’t eat – maybe it’s the tip of the tongue heat!

  3. September 13, 2009 1:12 pm

    Anyone else noticed that with the recent sriracha fad among the “foodies” (shiver) the price seems to have gone up. Even at the Asian markets. I always remember the stuff being very cheap, it has been a fridge door staple of mine for years. I think I saw the medium size jar for like 4 bucks the other day. I as well can not eat most Asian noodle soups without a healthy squirt.

    • September 13, 2009 2:59 pm

      I just bought a new bottle of it at the new Asian market on Central. My obligatory post on the market as a whole is forthcoming. But the 28 oz. bottle of Sriracha was $2.99. Your beloved P-Chop charges an arm and a leg for the stuff. It’s crazy.

  4. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    September 13, 2009 4:33 pm

    $6.99 @ Putnam’s and Saratoga Salsa and Spice, both in outrageously priced Saratoga Springs!

  5. phairhead permalink
    September 13, 2009 8:21 pm

    it’s become the balsamic vinegar of the new decade. but still damn tasty : )

  6. anon permalink
    September 14, 2009 2:04 am

    I always squirt the roster on Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

  7. Tonia permalink
    September 14, 2009 8:47 am

    I just burst out laughing when I read the words, “Sriracha into Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.” Nice!

  8. Mirdreams permalink
    September 14, 2009 12:56 pm

    I like to mix a lot of things into Kraft Mac & Cheese. Dinosaur’s BBQ sauce is good as well.

  9. Jennifer permalink
    September 15, 2009 10:31 am

    Target sells it cheap, as well. 2.49 last time I purchased it.

  10. September 15, 2009 12:07 pm

    Somehow, even with a husband who doesn’t do spicy food (we’re working on that), when we moved in together and mingled two fridges into one, we ended up with two bottles of rooster sauce.

  11. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    September 15, 2009 1:46 pm

    Walmart $1.99

  12. Paul Kornblueh permalink
    October 26, 2009 10:15 am

    Do to medical issues I can no longer use it. I used to go through a bottle every two or three weeks perhaps that’s why I have the medical issues now!

  13. kimberlychica permalink
    January 10, 2010 1:25 am

    i adore it in eggs and have also committed the kraft mac-n-cheese act..although in my blue-box dinner, i prefer the green Tabasco ( i think it’s a tiny bit milder and sweeter than the traditional Tabasco) In any event, the Price Chopper on Central has been purging it’s entire Asian food section with perfectly good but “discontinued” items for a couple months, and everything from bamboo shoots to Sriracha to quail eggs are DIRT CHEAP. As in, I bought a big bottle of Sriracha for .59 and about 30 cans of straw mushrooms for .39/each. Nice.

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