Named Bon Appétit’s Ingredient of the Year for 2010, the piquant pureé of chili peppers is one of the few kitchen standbys adored by adventurous cooks of all stripes—from star chefs to college freshmen—who appreciate its vibrant, versatile balance of ketchup-like sweetness, garlicky pungency, and just the right amount of spice. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a recent convert to the revered “rooster sauce,” you’ll love adding heat, depth, and an intriguing Southeast Asian twist to your dishes beyond just a tableside squeeze.
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Read an Excerpt
Step foot into an Asian market or restaurant, and you’re almost sure to be greeted by a glowing red bottle of Sriracha Chili Sauce. Over the past few years, however, its fame has carried it beyond the Asian sector, landing it on countless diner counters, restaurant menus, and into the hands of some very upscale chefs. References in several notable cookbooks, as well as appearances in several episodes of Top Chef and on the shelves of Wal-Mart, all stand as testaments to its welcomed ubiquity and tasty reputation.
Its vibrant color and unique, piquant flavor have made it a hit, slowly growing in popularity over the past 28 years simply by word of mouth. A mainstay in many home kitchens and innumerable college dorm rooms, Sriracha strikes a delicate balance of flavors and sensory experiences that isn’t just appealing, it is downright addictive. And with a price tag near $3 a bottle, there are certainly far worse habits to adopt.
Blending the sweetness and squeeze bottle simplicity of ketchup with a welcome garlic pungency and just the right amount of spice, Sriracha is quickly becoming a staple among American condiments. Although a squirt or two over a bowl of fried rice or ramen is most common, I’ve set out to find new ways of utilizing Sriracha, not just as a topping but as an additional ingredient and tool in our culinary arsenal.
Working with Peppers
Just as hot peppers can have a burning effect on your tongue, so too can they wreak havoc on your skin and eyes. When working with hot peppers, consider slapping on a pair of latex gloves, and be sure not to touch your face, eyes, or other sensitive body parts. Wash your hands immediately after handling the peppers. Work in a well-ventilated area if you also find yourself sensitive to the fumes.
Over the Top Tips
There are those of us who love Sriracha, and then there are those of us who need Sriracha. If you find yourself in the latter camp, look throughout the book for “Over the Top Tips.” Each tip is a surefire way to maximize Sriracha heat and flavor while minimizing your insatiable cravings and withdrawals. Your friends may think you’re crazy, but hey! Maybe it’s time for new friends, friends that appreciate your—er, your, uh—finer eccentricities?
In a Pinch
When you just don’t have the time to do every little step, look for “In a Pinch” time-saving tips given throughout the book with selected recipes.
The puzzle pieces that make up my palate might look a little different from yours, and that’s okay. People have very different ideas about food, and we all taste things just a bit differently. I like my stuff spicy, and I am fond of my salt (although I’m inclined to think that I use a reasonable amount). With that said, I’ve largely left out measurements for salt, leaving it to you to season to your taste as you cook. (If the recipe is for something not easily “tasted” during cooking, such as the Bacon-Sriracha Cornbread, I suggest a measurement for salt, but again, do not hesitate to make adjustments as you wish.) Likewise, with the amount of Sriracha suggested, feel free to use less or more according to your own preferences.
Sriracha fans the world around know that there’s more to it than just the flavor. Long before many of us used it as an ingredient in a recipe, we no doubt had our first taste of Sriracha as a condiment, drizzled over some element of a meal. Beyond the spicy kick, there is a visual stimulus that comes with Sriracha; the stunning color alone tells you right away that you’re in for something exciting. Restaurant chefs will be the first to tell you that they rely on presentation just as much as they do flavor. And one of their favorite tools of the trade? The plastic squeeze bottle. What a serendipitous coincidence that our star ingredient comes to us in such a vessel, no?
Here are a few simple ways to use Sriracha to add that extra oomph to your plates. Feel free to experiment with other designs—your guests will be quite impressed. As they say, we eat with our eyes first!
Sriracha: A Thai Original
Seated in the Chonburi province of Thailand is Sri Racha, a seaside city known for its tropical beach landscape, exotic tiger zoo, delectable seafood restaurants, and an affinity for hot chili pastes. Pronounced “see-RAH-chuh,” the town is part burgeoning industrial metropolis and part quaint fishing village. Situated about 65 miles southeast of Bangkok and housing its own port, Sri Racha has attracted many large factories that have come to escape the high rent and heavy traffic of the capital city. Besides accommodating the hustle and bustle of big business, Sri Racha also houses a population of 141,000 and hosts a moderate amount of tourist travel, which helps keep its deeply rooted Old Siam culture alive despite the influx of modern machinery.
Clusters of jetties, piers, and dilapidated pontoons protrude out from the shore and into the Gulf of Thailand, keeping hotels, seafood stalls, and other vendors afloat. Tourists staying a night in town or just passing through en route to some of the eastern seaboard’s island destinations, such as Koh Loi or Koh Si Chang, are treated to some of the best fresh seafood that money can buy. Fried mussels and oysters, grilled lobster, crayfish, and snapper abound, and seasoned local cooks rely on simple preparations to help carry the incredible zest of briny freshness onto your palate. With many of the residents being immigrant workers from China, Japan, and Korea, scores of restaurants and dishes have been adapted over time to reflect the potpourri of cultures present. But one item that has satiated the people of Sri Racha for many years hasn’t changed a bit, and it has managed to remain at the center of the area’s eclectic cuisine.
Nám prík Sriracha, a glowing red paste consisting of nothing more than piquant peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt, reigns supreme here. The noticeable but certainly not overpowering heat of the chilies and robust pungency of the garlic fuse in the sauce as the vinegar begins pickling and marrying them together. Thai cuisine has traditionally focused on a delicate harmony of four sensations: spicy, salty, sour, and sweet, all of which are gracefully represented in the celebrated crimson condiment, creating the perfect accent for the traditional local fare. Bottled versions, such as Sriracha Panich, became available and gave way to an export market, boosting the sauce’s popularity in neighboring countries such as Vietnam, the key step to starting its voyage to becoming an American obsession.
Huy Fong: Bringing It to America
The Sriracha known to most Americans is certainly no far cry from the Thai original, but there are marked differences, and that’s just fine with David Tran, creator of the now ubiquitous Tu’o’ng ´O’t Sriracha, or as it is affectionately called by many, “rooster sauce.” Tran, who himself was born in Vietnam of Chinese ancestry, came to America in the late 1970s as a refugee seeking asylum from the post-war regime. While in Vietnam, Tran had begun growing and selling peppers in an attempt to earn a living, but quickly found that it was a losing proposition due to the low prices paid for fresh chilies. Rather than scrap the plan altogether, he began making chili sauces, which could command a higher return.
After the war, however, many immigrant groups were viewed as outsiders by the new administration, leaving Tran and his family little choice but to abandon their business and flee their home. Boarding a crowded Taiwanese freighter dubbed Huy Fong, Tran left for the United States. After he spent months in a transit camp in Hong Kong, the United States allowed him entry into Boston. It wasn’t long before he went to Los Angeles and started working.
Using $50,000 of family savings after being denied a bank loan, Tran started his chili sauce business, naming it Huy Fong Foods after the ship that carried him out of Vietnam. With a Chevrolet van, a 50-gallon electric mixer, and a small shop rented on Spring Street in LA’s Chinatown for $700 a month, he began selling a spicy Vietnamese-style Pepper Saté Sauce to local Asian restaurants and markets. Seeing moderate levels of success, he rolled out several more products, including his Tu’o’ng ´O’t Sriracha in 1983.
Made with bright red jalapeños and utilizing garlic powder in place of fresh, Tran’s sauce had a more upfront, in-your-face taste that distinguished it from its Thai counterpart. It was bolder and thicker, too. The plastic squeeze bottles, emblazoned with a proud rooster (representing the year of Tran’s birth on the Chinese zodiac) and topped with a bright green lid, stood out on restaurant tables and store shelves. Inside the bottle, the sauce had a flavor that was a natural match for Asian cuisine. Others outside of the Asian community soon took note, gladly embracing a new addition to the drab ketchup/mustard/mayo condiment trifecta to which many Americans had become so stoically accustomed.
By 1987, Tran’s operation had outgrown its Chinatown outpost. He moved it to Rosemead, in California’s San Gabriel Valley, which had its own Asian immigrant community, a perfect market for the sauce. Never advertised, Tu’o’ng ´O’t Sriracha’s continued success came solely from its tasty reputation and word of mouth. Coming in at under $3 for a 17-ounce bottle, the hot sauce was an easy sell to visitors and tourists passing through LA, who would often take a bottle or two back home with them, either for themselves or friends who had a taste for something spicy.
In 1996, Huy Fong Foods expanded once more, purchasing the shuttered Wham-O factory to facilitate greater production. Word was getting out about their sauces, and sales continued to soar. Over the years, Sriracha has become a household name and a pantry staple for many, and with production now exceeding 14 million bottles a year, Sriracha has earned its rightful place in kitchens across America.
Why on Earth would you want to make your own Sriracha? I mean, the bottled stuff is already amazing, and it’s actually cheaper to buy than it is to make. Um, because you can! Besides being delicious and pretty easy to make, there’s that cool sense of pride that comes with the DIY approach that money just can’t buy.
Makes about 2 cups
1 3/4 pounds red jalapeño peppers, stems removed and halved lengthwise
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons garlic powder, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed
Water, as needed
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peppers, garlic, garlic powder, granulated sugar, salt, and brown sugar. Pulse until a coarse puree forms. Transfer to a glass jar, seal, and store at room temperature for 7 days, stirring daily.
After 1 week, pour the chili mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool, then puree in a food processor for 2 to 3 minutes, until a smooth, uniform paste forms. If the mixture is too thick to blend properly, feel free to adjust the consistency with a small amount of water.
Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Press on the solids with the back of a spoon to squeeze out every last bit of goodness you’ve been waiting a week to get. Adjust the seasoning and consistency of the final sauce, adding additional vinegar, water, salt, granulated sugar, or garlic powder to suit your taste. Transfer to a glass jar, seal, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
This simple combination looks relatively mundane, but I assure you it will become a staple in your refrigerator. Besides being beyond easy to make, it is extremely versatile and will jazz up any tired old sandwich. Try it in egg salad, on a burger, or as a dip for fries, or make your own spicy tuna rolls at home!
Makes about 1 cup
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Sriracha
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Feel free to adjust the amount of lime juice to bring the thickness to your liking. Refrigerate promptly. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Use as a spread or dipping sauce for your favorite recipes that call for mayonnaise.
Variation: Sriracha Aïoli
Make a garlic paste by placing one clove of garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of kosher salt. Once a smooth paste has formed, mix into your Sriracha Mayo for an extra garlicky kick!
Dear Idaho: Plant more potatoes. Once people swipe a fry or tater tot through Sriracha Ketchup, only two major food groups will exist: 1) Sriracha Ketchup, and 2) potatoes. Oh, did I mention this turns hash browns and home fries into a new kind of incredible? Besides its propensity for spuds, this crimson condiment works wonders for burgers, corndogs, hot dogs, meatloaf, and much more.
Makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Store in a squeeze bottle or small covered bowl, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments x
Sriracha: A Thai Original 6
Huy Fong: Bringing It to America 9
Sauces and Seasonings 13
Homemade Sriracha 15
Sriracha Mayo 16
Sriracha Ketchup 17
Sriracha Pesto 18
Sriracha Cream Cheese 19
SriRANCHa Dressing 20
Sriracha Butter 22
Sriracha Tzatziki 23
Sriracha Sour Cream 24
Sriracha Salt 25
Starters and Snacks 27
Cheddar-Sriracha Swirl Bread 29
Sriracha Cheese Log 32
Pickled Green Beans 33
Sriracha and Crab Rangoon Wontons 35
Kicked-Up Party Nuts 36
Devilishly Hot Deviled Eggs 37
Jalapeño Poppers 38
Honey-Sriracha Glazed Buffalo Wings 40
Salads and Sides 43
Sriracha Kimchee 44
Sriracha Slaw 47
Turned-Up Tuna Tartare 49
Elliot’s Grilled-Vegetable Salad 50
Tropical Fruit Salad with Sriracha-Sesame Vinaigrette 52
Sriracha Ceviche 55
Soups and Stews 57
Sriracha Gazpacho 58
Five-Alarm Lentil Soup 59
Fire-Roasted Corn Chowder 61
Srirachili Con Carne 63
Thai Chicken-Coconut Soup 65
Breakfast of Champions 67
Maple-Sriracha Sausage Patties 68
Three-Cheese Grits 69
Veggie Sriracha Frittata 71
Sriracha and SPAM Fried Rice 75
Bacon-Sriracha Cornbread 78
Main Courses 81
Baked Mac ’n’ Cheese 82
Sesame-Sriracha Crusted Ahi Tuna 85
Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon 86
Camarones à la Diabla 87
Chicken Tikka Masala 90
Sriracha Lamb Kebabs 92
Piquant Pulled Pork 95
Ultimate Sriracha Burger 97
Grilled Short Ribs 100
Sriracha Carne Asada 101
Drinks and Desserts 103
La Caridad 104
Bleeding Mary 107
Spiced Sriracha Truffles 108
Peach-Sriracha Sorbet 109
What People are Saying About This
“The Sriracha Cookbook is a wonderful little book that embraces flavor, celebrates creativity and, most of all, trumpets the wonders and versatility of a single condiment that just might change the way you think about eating.”
—The Sacramento Bee, 8/31/11
"It’s truly a condiment worthy of a cookbook, and Randy Clemmons brings the heat."
“Named after a Thai fishing town, and created in its current form by a Vietnamese immigrant in Los Angeles, Sriracha - AKA "rooster sauce" - is experiencing a meteoric rise in mainstream popularity. But the bright-red chili sauce in the clear plastic bottle is no niche ingredient, like truffle paste or salt cod. Its five basic elements (peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt) cover every part of the flavor spectrum, making it a surprisingly versatile additive: while The Sriracha Cookbook, as one would expect, contains many Asian recipes, it also branches out internationally with recipes like Sriracha Pesto, Sriracha Ceviche, and Bacon-Sriracha Cornbread. Most importantly, while author Randy Clemens clearly enjoys his titular ingredient (and is a confessed spice junkie), he has a strong culinary background, and his well-tested recipes succeed in making the book much more than a novelty.”
—John Peck, Diesel, A Bookstore (Oakland, CA), February 2011
“At this time of year, we have to look for heat wherever we can get it – especially on our food. Luckily, we have Sriracha – that garlicy, ketchupy bottle of hot sauce that’s so versatile, one man devoted an entire cookbook to it.”
—WBUR, Public Radio Kitchen blog, 2/22/11
“Small and compact, this cookbook's 50 recipes demonstrate Sriracha's widespread culinary versatility not just as a condiment—say, on eggs and fries—but as an ingredient. Clemens presents ways for you to infuse some Thai chili heat into a fruit salad, corn chowder, burger, and even chocolate truffles. It only takes a little bit to get big flavor!”
"Recipes are dead simple, with easy-to-find ingredients and clear instructions. This book, plus a bottle of rooster sauce, would make the perfect gift for any home cook that likes a lot of spice, without a lot of hassle."
—Seattle Weekly, 2/16/11
“Sure, you can douse just about anything in the Thai-inspired garlic-and-chili condiment, but what about cooking it into peach sorbet or maple sausage patties? The Sriracha Cookbook ($17, Ten Speed Press) collects recipes for these and 48 other dishes that showcase the sauce as an essential starting ingredient, not an afterthought.”
—Details, February 2011
“If you want to know whether somebody belongs to the gastroscenti, just check his or her fridge. Do you see a rooster-emblazoned plastic bottle filled with red sauce? Bingo. If you want to cook or eat like one of these people, you'll need to understand how to use Vietnam-born Huy Fong's American adaptation of Thai chili paste (Nám Prík Sriracha). That's where "The Sriracha Cookbook" (Ten Speed Press) comes in, with recipes from Bacon-Sriracha Cornbread to Peach-Sriracha Sorbet.”
—Wall Street Journal, 1/22/11
“This book is rare—a niche product has been worked successfully into a variety of creative yet practical dishes.”
—Library Journal, 11/15/10
“This book is a perfect example that Sriracha tastes great on everything!”
—David Chang, chef/owner of Momofuku
“You may know of Sriracha as something to squirt into a bowl of pho, but Randy Clemens shows you how to use the hot sauce from breakfast to dinner, from salad dressing to dessert. His infectious enthusiasm and appealing recipes will send your endorphins to a chili pepper high.”
—Andrea Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and Asian Dumplings
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great little book for chef's with little experience and have big flavor requirements. This book is fun and there are plenty of nice photos so you know what you're aiming for.
I was disappointed in this book. I was expecting some unique new recipes, but unfortunately the book did not deliver. Most of the recipes could be summarized by stating, "Follow your recipe for making __________ (eg. wings, mayo, cornbread, burger). Add sriracha sauce to taste to add flavor and heat." I love Sriracha sauce, and use it in this way anyways. If you are not confident about your ability to use the sauce or like having exact recipes, this is the book for you. If not, then I would pass it by.
I have really been enjoying this little book and have seen so many different ways to use Sriracha that I had never thought of. I keep this cookbook on my counter so it is close and I can check recipes often. I haven't had this cookbook very long but it is one of my favorites.
Awesome Recipes! Can't wait to try them!