|Artwork by Andrew Yasgar|
with Sriracha sauce bottle from Huy Fong
by Peggy Robin
Today I decided to do something about a little problem that’s been nagging at me for weeks. What’s this “sriracha” I keep hearing about, seemingly everywhere I turn? They talk about it in food truck reviews, it keeps popping up in recipes in the newspaper and on the internet, and I see it on the condiment shelves of gourmet and specialty food stores. I’m tired of being so behind the curve.
First, a little background, for those of you who are even farther behind the curve than I am. Sriracha is a hot sauce that may have long, deep roots in Southeast Asian cooking….or maybe not. But it took off as the trendy taste sensation just a few years ago, starting around 2010 when Bon Appetit magazine dubbed it the "ingredient of the year." Since then restaurant menu creations spiced with sriracha have won a whole bunch of industry awards. (This quick history comes from the Huffington Post, my go-to source for news of the hip and famous: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/21/sriracha-history_n_4136923.html).
After a little more Googling (looking at just a handful of the seven point nine million results) I learned some basic facts: You are supposed to say “See-racha.” (I had been pronouncing the first syllable like the beginning of Sri Lanka. Apparently, that’s wrong.) Here are eleven other things you might want to know about sriracha: http://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-sriracha-including-its-proper-pronunciation (from Thrillist).
On a more immediately practical level, here’s a list of some of the most common things you can do with sriracha:
* You can put it on your barbecue wings: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/02/sriracha-hot-wings-recipe.html
* You can make a sharper shrimp cocktail sauce: http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/sriracha-shrimp-cocktail/
* Drink it in a bloody mary: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sriracha-bloody-mary
* Use it to spice up your gazpacho soup: http://rockinarugula.com/2013/07/30/spicy-gazpacho/
* Turn your tired old spaghetti and meatballs into red-hot spaghetti with zingy sriracha meatballs: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/02/sriracha-marinara-with-meatballs-recipe.html
* Grill your salmon after glazing with a maple syrup sriracha lime glaze: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2013/06/grilled-salmon-maple-sriracha-lime-glaze.html
And here’s what I did with my first-time-ever cooking with a few tablespoons of sriracha: Sirarcha/ranch beef tacos: http://www.cookaholicwife.com/2013/12/recipe-swap-sriracha-beef-tacos.html -- quick and easy and they turned out much zippier than tacos made with your basic salsa from a jar.
What else have I learned in my evening’s investigation and experimentation with sriracha? Unfortunately, that it’s already old hat! My final Google search returned this piece about the downhill trend: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/10/the-sad-truth-sriracha-the-worlds-coolest-hot-sauce-is-losing-its-edge/. I guess I’m the proof – when I start cooking with the hip new ingredient, it can’t possibly be hip anymore. So what’s the newest great thing in food? According to restaurant consultants Baum andWhiteman it’s ….are you ready for this?....insect protein powder! I’m sure it will taste phenomenal .... as long as you pour enough sriracha on it.
Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.