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Pepper Guide: Sriracha

by Sonoran Spice
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SrirachaThe Complete Guide
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Sriracha is arguably the world’s favorite hot sauce! It’s not the hottest, but it’s one of the most versatile and delicious hot sauces. It differs from most hot sauces because it isn’t intended to be just pure heat. With the addition of garlic and sugar, the hot sauce has a more distinct taste. 

It’s more than just a hot sauce. It’s a condiment, a gourmet sauce, and a delightfully flavorful experience all in one! Here’s everything you need to know about the famously flavorful sauce.

Sriracha Sauce, Sriracha Chili, and Sriracha Bottle
Sriracha paste, pepper and sauce

The Different Varieties of Hot Sauce and Their Histories 

The sauce that you call “sriracha” may vary based on where you’re from. If you’re in the U.S. the most popular brand used is the Huy Fong sauce, which has been around since the 1980s. Its iconic red color with a green cap and rooster on the bottle makes it easy to spot. Huy Fong’s hot sauce is a popular condiment at restaurants and found in many homes. This iconic bottled sauce was formulated by David Tran, the Vietnamese-American founder of the brand.

However, the original sriracha comes from Thailand. It was first made in the 1930s and is tangier and thinner than the American alternative. There are several different hot sauces vying for the title of original Thai sriracha, including Sriracha Panich, Shark Brand Sriracha, and Three Mountains Sriracha. Culinary authority Bon Appetit has reported that Sriracha Panich had made it first. Eventually, in 1984, Thai Theparos Food Products acquired the recipe and began selling. 

There’s a lot of confusion on who the first person to make Thai sriracha was before it went commercial. The first batch is most commonly attributed to a Thai woman named Thanom Chakkapak. Legend has it that the hot sauce was first made in the Thai town Si Racha, hence the name “sriracha.”

Map of Si Racha, Thailand

How the Sauce is Made

Sriracha is a combination of sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic, and, of course, red jalapeno peppers. 

When creating the Sriracha sauce every part of the pepper is used. The process begins with raw chilies being grounded-up and then mixed with vinegar. The vinegar helps break down the peppers in the sauce, but it also acts as a preservative. This mixture is then combined with salt and more preservatives.

The chilies can remain in this combination for months. The key in keeping the sauce made year-round is the preservative state, as the peppers only grow for a few months of the year. When it’s time garlic and sugar are combined with the final ingredients to complete the sauce. This gives the hot sauce a more complex flavor profile. The amount of sugar in bottled sriracha is about the same as what’s in a bottle of ketchup.

Sriracha is different from most hot sauces because of its thick texture. Having the perfect ratio of ingredients creates the ideal texture. The xanthan gum also helps thicken the delicious hot sauce.

How Hot is it?

If you haven’t had sriracha before, you might expect it to be ultra-spicy. But it’s actually milder than other popular hot sauces like Tabasco. Sriracha measures about 2,200 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). On the other hand, Tabasco sauce tends to measure between 2,500 and 5,000 SHU depending on the batch.

Looking at the variety of peppers are used in these hot sauces it is easy to see the discrepancy between SHU. Tabasco sauce contains peppers which are quite a bit spicier, at 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. The red jalapenos found in sriracha measure between 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. Of course, the more sriracha you add to your food, the spicier it will become. Not interested in making a super-spicy dish, a dash of sriracha will do the trick. 

How to Use it

Whether you use it on its own or mixed with other ingredients to bring new unique spicy flavors to meals. It’s the perfect ingredient for a flavorful, spicy sauce. It goes well in vinaigrettes, marinades, and even dipping sauces.

You can use sriracha the same way you’d use any other hot sauce. Perhaps the best way to use it is in a bowl of pho. It can add a lot of flavor to fried noodles as well as spring rolls. It’s versatile with the perfect notes of garlic, heat, sweetness, and vinegar. It goes in soup, on eggs, and on hamburgers.

Sriracha over a bowl of Pho
Sriracha over a bowl of Pho

Sriracha is a favorite throughout the world, Thailand for example will pair with seafood cuisine. The United States tends to use Sriracha like any other condiment and add to multiple cuisine types. One favorite way to enjoy this hot sauce is by mixing it with mayo or aioli to make a delightful spicy sandwich spread.

Sriracha can take a boring salty or sweet snack and make it a lot more interesting! Try serving it with slices of cheese or fruit. Use it to heat your favorite adult beverage to the next level. Simply add a splash of sriracha to your Bloody Mary for a spicy surprise!

Sriracha’s Cultural Impact

There’s really no true substitute for sriracha. When a recipe calls for it, don’t use another sauce. You won’t get the same texture or flavor profile. And you’ll be missing out! From Sriracha Popcorn, BBQ sauces, or Hot Sauces you can be extremely creative with how you incorporate this one-of-a-kind flavor. If you’re short on ideas, you can check out one of the many cookbooks filled with recipes using siracha. That will give you inspiration! 

Sriracha isn’t just available at Asian grocery stores or specialty supermarkets. Its explosive popularity has made it widely available at most local grocery stores. Sriracha is such a beloved condiment that it became the subject of a 2013 documentary made by Griffin Hammond called Sriracha. Now that’s true popularity!

The popular flavor isn’t just available in hot sauce. You can also purchase sriracha powder, which is ideal for dry rubs on meats and other uses. It tastes remarkably like the classic sauce, but it opens up brand-new opportunities to get that flavor into more recipes!

Sonoran Spice Sriracha Pepper Powder
Sonoran Spice Sriracha Pepper Powder

Give Your Taste Buds the Experience of a Lifetime!

If you’ve never had sriracha, you’re missing out! There’s a reason this hot sauce has so many fans all over the world. Whether you want to use it as a condiment or an ingredient in your favorite sauce, there’s so much to love!

Keywords: sriracha, huy fong

Sources:
Scoville Heat Unit
Bon Appetit
Thanom Chakkapak
Sriracha Popcorn, BBQ sauces, or Hot Sauces
Griffin Hammond

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Birds Eye Chili Pepper The Complete Guide
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