General musings / Published articles

Hot stuff: an ode to sriracha

I was first introduced to the world of sriracha a mere week ago. I had been browsing the food village at WOMAD, finally deciding on a Vietnamese ‘bun bowl’ (which is supposed to be like a Banh Mi roll in a bowl, except that it had noodles, so really it was more of a ‘cold bowl’). Nitpicking aside, after I had received my delectable dinner, I sighted the bottle on the counter. Fiery red, with a glowing green top. This is what I’d been waiting for. My day to try this much-lauded super sauce had finally arrived! (And let’s face it, I was too lazy to go and try find it at the supermarket before I knew it was any good.)

It’s become a worldwide food craze, thanks to the internet. First it was macarons, then salted everything, then quinoa was the ingredient du jour, but now the hot (pun definitely intended) new thang to hit the foodie world is sriracha, a chili sauce deriving from a traditional Thai paste.

So I set out on a mission to find this sauce-to-end-all-sauces. Well really I just caught a bus to the Central Market BUT ANYWAY. I found it, and now me and that bottle are inseparable.

And it’s totally worth the hype. Although I am rather new to the sriracha enthusiast club, I have been endeavouring to use it on something, at least once a day. I haven’t quite gotten into making it into icecreams or lollipops yet, but have used it in a variety of savoury situations. Sriracha on eggs is awesome. Similarly on sandwiches, cheese toasties. Sriracha does not discriminate, and loves seafood, meat and tofu equally.

Try it on a sausage instead of that tomato sauce. Put down that squeezy bottle of Heinz, and replace it with something far more exotic (although oddly identical in packing)! That said, some bright spark came up with Srirachup – no prizes for guessing how that’s made – but it is a good gateway sauce if you’re not so good with spice. Plus it’s the perfect accompaniment to stir fry, soup, Harry Styles’ naked chest…wut?

Give me until Sunday and I’ll let you know how well the sriracha bloody mary goes down.

A quick history of the hot sauce – it’s originally derived from a traditional Thai chili paste (made with chili (obvs), vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic), which is also where it gets its name, and apparently originated in Si Racha, Thailand. It’s pronounced ‘shree-ra-cha’ (according the official website) but has earned the nickname ‘cock sauce’ from many chefs, because of the prominent rooster on the bottle. Now I won’t lie, I haven’t tried the ‘proper’ one made in Thailand, which is what purists have been insisting everyone has to get. But the version made in the US seems mighty fine to me.

The interwebz has helped me out considerably in finding new ways to use the sauce – there’s countless galleries showcasing food porn about how you can use the amazing new condiment. And like the mark of any celebrity worth their salt, it has a Tumblr dedicated to it (FuckYeahSriracha), with pages and pages of food porn (and also some weird Instagrams of people taking it to weird places, cradling it like a child or drawing cats or ‘Love’ with it). It also has its own merch – there’s aprons, iPhone covers, tees. Wear your new saucy obsession on your chest. And it won’t even burn.

You can also buy sriracha flavoured Lays from eBay (it was part of a ‘Do Us A Flavour’ competition in the US, along with the bizarre combo of Chicken & Waffles – wonder who came out on top…), but I’m not sure I can quite spend $30 on a bag of chips. Not yet anyway. What I will be doing is mixing sriracha and kewpie mayo and dipping all the things into it.

But anyway, it’s versatile, it’s delicious, it’s suspiciously red and it’s hot hot stuff. What more do you want from your condiments?

So go forth, my pretties, and set your tongues (and hearts) on fire with sriracha. (But be careful not to touch your eyes (or genitalia) after using – apparently not so pleasant).

Published by UniLife Magazine.

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