It will surprise no one that reads this blog that I'm a fan of hot sauces. I love strong tastes, and have a higher-than-average tolerance for hot foods. So I was delighted to see this article about the ubiquitous Sriracha hot sauce (pronounced "SIR-rotch-ah"). You might think this was a traditonal Thai sauce, but actually it "may be best understood as an American sauce, a polyglot purée with roots in different places and peoples" (source).
Part of what makes Sriracha superior for many applications than, say, Frank's or Tabasco (*) is that it doesn't have the acidity of those vinegar-based hot sauces. It's more a blended chili-garlic-salt kind stuff. Many restaurants, even high-end ones, will use Sriracha in hollandaise or frying-batters.
The NYTimes article interviewed the inventor, Vietnam-born Chinese-American David Tran.
"I made this sauce for the Asian community," Mr. Tran said one recent afternoon, seated at headquarters, near a rooster-shaped crystal sculpture.
"I knew, after the Vietnamese resettled here, that they would want their hot sauce for their pho," a beef broth and noodle soup that is a de facto national dish of Vietnam. "But I wanted something that I could sell to more than just the Vietnamese," he continued.
"After I came to America, after I came to Los Angeles, I remember seeing Heinz 57 ketchup and thinking: ‘The 1984 Olympics are coming. How about I come up with a Tran 84, something I can sell to everyone?’" ...
Multicultural appeal was engineered into the product: the ingredient list on the back of the bottle is written in Vietnamese, Chinese, English, French and Spanish. And serving suggestions include pizzas, hot dogs, hamburgers and, for French speakers, pâtés.(source)
It's a classic immigrant success story, but it's also a fine chili sauce. I particularly like to use it in leftovers and on hot dogs. Here is a recipe that I would like to try...
Pete's Shrimp with Sriracha Cream Sauce over Toast Points
1 Lb Large Shrimp
1 Large Shallot (minced)
4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 Large Roasted Red Pepper
¼ cup Diced Sun-dried Tomatoes in Oil
8 oz Stemmed and Sliced Shiitakes
Half & Half or Heavy Cream
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Sriracha Pepper Sauce
- Toast some baguette slices cut on the bias.
- Coat a sauté pan or saucepan with olive oil and butter, and sweat the shallot and diced red pepper on low heat. After several minutes, add the minced garlic and season with Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and Sriracha.
- Once garlic has been cooked, pour the mixture into cup, add heavy cream and puree with immersion blender. Pour the mixture back into the pan and add diced sun dried tomatoes and additional cream if needed. Sautee mushrooms. Let the sauce reduce for approximately ten minutes on low heat adding mushrooms about halfway through. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon when it is ready.
- Sautee shrimp in butter then toss with sauce. Pour over baguette toast points.
* Fun Fact:
Tabasco is included in about two-thirds of all U.S. Military rations (MRE's) and is served in every Officer's Mess in the Marine Corp. Since the Vietnam War the Tabasco company has been producing "unofficial" cookbooks for troops. I don't know if the Canadian military's version of MRE rations (known is IMP's in the Canadian Military) include Tabasco or not). I've eaten MRE's before--they remind me a lot of airplane food.