I’m Over Sriracha
Everyone loves Sriracha. It’s a great American success story. Chinese-born David Tran grew up in Vietnam where he first experimented with the hot chili concoction. After fleeing the war-torn country in the 70s, he settled in southern California, started a company called Huy Fong Foods and production of the rooster-adorned hot chili condiment began (initially by hand in a small office in LA’s Chinatown). Last year, the more than 600,000 square foot factory in suburban Los Angeles produced about 20 million bottles of the ubiquitous sauce. Sriracha is in most restaurants and refrigerators, its label is on T-shirts and phone covers, you can buy pre-fab Sriracha bottle Halloween costumes, every major food magazine has a list of Sriracha-spiked recipes, and it’s inspired a whole industry of knockoffs. You can even get a footlong Sriracha chicken melt at Subway. It’s becoming as iconic as a bottle of Heinz ketchup…And I don’t get it.
I mean I do, but I don’t. I love hot sauces of all stripes, but not everything needs a squirt of Sriracha. If you like straight heat, there are many sauces that deliver it with greater force and better flavor. If you like the acidic spike of vinegar or citrus I would suggest other sauces that do it better as well. Same for garlic-chili heads. I like Sriracha just fine, I have it in my fridge and use it on occasion… but I like the flavor of so many others, most I like even more. Next time you’re at the grocery store, remove your Sriracha blinders and take a moment to look at the other options.
Below are a smattering of sauces from around the world that I think have better flavor and make for better additions for seasoning what you’re cooking or serving, I would have included the other 40 in my fridge and cabinet but I’d need a bigger lens on the camera, I don’t have room for all the Caribbean and Central American style chili sauces I use, or the entire realm of dried, fresh or smoked chiles:
- Aji Limo Paste: This chile paste is a base for traditional Peruvian cooking.
- BonPussy: Authentic Jamaican hot sauce.
- Chiu Chow Chili Oil: A savory chili sauce from China’s Chiu Chow region, made from preserved chilis and fermented soybeans.
- Gochujang: Fermented Korean chili paste.
- Sambal Oelek: Huy Fong Foods’ pure chili paste.
- Chili Garlic Sauce
- Grandma Hearn’s Hot Flash Mango Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce
- Mazi Piri Piri: Authentic Portuguese hot sauce made form piri piri peppers, vinegar, tomato and lemon.
- Gindo’s Spice of Life: A unique honey-habanero pepper sauce.
- La Yu Chili Oil: A Japanese chili oil, a couple drops is usually enough.
- Toban Djan: This sauce made of fermented bean paste and chili is a pantry essential for Chinese cuisine.
- Crystal: A classic Louisiana favorite made with cayenne peppers, vinegar and salt.