I really struggled with what was the most accurate title for this post; “The Only Condiment You’ll Ever Need” and “Roostery Red Awesomeness” were also strong contenders. Don’t be fooled by the fact that you’ve probably only seen this at (quality) Asian restaurants – it transcends culinary genres. Like a liquid Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sriracha can be a strong supporting character or can step it up a notch and take over the whole damn production. Bottom line: you can discard all the other garbage from your fridge and streamline with a bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.
I first had the Rooster on my submarine, a mysterious stranger left a bottle in the wardroom (most likely someone from the Blue Crew, but I prefer to think it was an Asian mystic). We didn’t know what to call it, so we simply referred to it as “Rooster sauce” – not so much due to the majestic rooster proudly posing on the front, but more for the way it made you feel when you had control of it (it was like having the conch). Is it spicy? Yeah, it’s mildly spicy in small amounts but can light you up if you choose to pile it on. (I recently had a pho soup incident where i was sweating like a lineman during two-a-days.) It was the perfect solution to many dismal dining situations while underway. Disgusting midnight hot dogs? Boom, Rooster. Soggy, greasy chicken nuggets? Boom, Rooster. Pasta? Rooster. There was really no food, except maybe cereal or pastries, that wasn’t greatly enhanced by the Rooster.
During my MBA days I moved to Boston and was more widely exposed to Asian restaurants. It gradually became Sriracha to me. I had always thought it was a Vietnamese creation, but apparently it has Thai heritage. As a banker, I kept a bottle in my office as well – the perfect counterpart to three pounds of chicken broccoli (hold the broccoli) from Au Mandy. Importantly – do not be fooled by the “sriracha” sauces at many local grocers that do not have a proud rooster prominently displayed on the bottle – they are poor, poor substitutes at best.
Beyond being delicious and attractively packaged, the Sriracha bottle also helpfully details for you what foods it best goes with: soups, sauces, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chow mein OR ON ANYTHING. How many products will avow that they are perfect with ANYTHING? This is not false advertising; I can personally attest that it adds something special to pizza, lasagna and even turkey sandwiches. In a huge hurry? But looking for some deliciousness? May I suggest a Lean Pockets Sub (Meatballs & Mozzarella variety) paired with a healthy does of Sriracha? I can sense your revulsion already, but trust me on this one: it’s money. (It was even better when Hot Pockets still had the warming sleeves, now the finished product is a bit on the wet and soggy side. You put some of the Rooster on, though, problem solved)