There’s a good chance that somewhere in the world right now, someone is squirting their bowl of ramen, rice or noodles with Sriracha sauce. There’s also likely a baby wearing a onesy emblazoned with the proud rooster, a packet of Sriracha flavoured Pringles, Kettle or Lay’s chips sticking in the grooves of someone’s teeth, and there’s probably a person watching a film about the madness as we speak.
The hot sauce behemoth (3,000 bottles are churned out an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week) is famous the world over. Sriracha (pronounced see-rotch-ah - see its Oxford dictionary debut here) is actually the type of sauce, named after the small coastal Thai town Si Racha (population: 19,221) it was invented in. The LA Times reports that a woman named Thanom Chakkapak created it but that her recipe is now manufactured under the name Sriraja Panich, while Hu Fong Foods are the ones who bottle those famous rooster bottles with the green top.
So, how did this Thai-born condiment, once named Bon Appétit’s ingredient of the year, become the world’s coolest hot sauce?
“I started the business with my eyes closed. There were no expectations at all,” David Tran, founder of Huy Fong Foods once said.
Tran came up with the now globally loved version of the Thai sauce after returning to the US from a trip to Southeast Asia. He wanted to offer Vietnamese immigrants a hot sauce worthy of their pho.
Tran’s version of Sriracha is made with jalapeño peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. It’s slightly less sweet and thicker than the original Thai version but has struck a chord with diners everywhere from Europe to Asia, the US and of course, Down Under. Thousands of chefs, like New York's David Chang are also behind it - he has bottles lined up at all his Momofuku outlets.
But locally, Thai food royalty David Thompson prefers to stick to a truer version of the sauce, favouring a Thai take on Sriracha over the one by Huy Fong Foods. The authentically-sourced Aaharn Sriracha sauce (it's one of the few actually made in Sriracha) is used in all of Thompson's restaurants around the world. Thompson was drawn to its rich, mellowed flavour, which he thought paired perfectly with prawns, deep-fried fish and even oysters. As such, Long Chim Perth, Melbourne and Sydney have begun retailing Aaharn Sriracha sauce.
Palisa Anderson of Sydney's Chat Thai and Boon Cafe makes her own version using tomatoes.
In The Sriracha Cookbook:50 "Rooster Sauce" Recipes that Pack a Punch, Randy Clements boldly ventures out from noodles, eggs and fries and offers recipes for the Ultimate Sriracha Burger, Peach-Sriracha Sorbet and more.
Wait – Sriracha sorbet?
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you aren’t sold yet, we suggest watching the documentary – we guarantee you’ll want to dip the nearest thing you can find in the hot sauce, stat.
The Chefs' Line is back for round 2 and this week it's Thai week. Home cooks versus restaurant chefs are getting ready to rumble in our kitchen 6pm weeknights on SBS and then on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos, cooking tips and more.