Sriracha: The Fiery Condiment That Conquered the World – Bokksu Market

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Sriracha: The Fiery Condiment That Conquered the World

by Bokksu Staff

From the food stalls of a small Thai town to the kitchens of global fast-food chains, the story of sriracha’s rise will leave you inspired and longing for a taste of the hot sauce. Join us as we uncover what makes the beloved condiment a global favorite.

What is Sriracha? Understanding the Spicy Staple

Bowl of sriracha sauce

Sriracha is a Thai hot sauce that consists of a smooth paste made by mixing chili peppers with distilled vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic. It’s used as a dipping sauce, condiment, topping, and ingredient for a variety of dishes. The chili peppers give the sauce a thick, tangy, and slightly sweet taste. Sriracha also packs more of a kick than other types of hot sauces, thanks to the garlic in it. Also, it has a bright red color, similar to most chili sauces on the market, and a more layered flavor profile.

As a dipping sauce, sriracha graces hundreds of seafood and egg dishes. You can also find it in drinks like Bloody Mary, where it adds spice and texture. Ramen, udon, spring rolls, and potato chips are some of the best foods for topping with sriracha. Thanks to popular brands like Huy Fong Foods, Lee Brand, and Three Mountains, sriracha sauce can be found all over the world. And don’t get us started on sriracha-flavored snacks like Blue Diamond almonds, Dang sticky rice chips, and Hapi peas that are becoming increasingly popular in Asia and the USA. If you want to find out for yourself the awesomeness that comes with every drizzle of sriracha, you should use the Lee Brand Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. It’s affordable and flavorful, giving you the best value for your money.

In this post, we’ll explore the origins of sriracha, its health benefits, and its culinary uses. By the end, you should know how to use it like a pro. We’ll also touch on sriracha's recent shortage, which has mostly been shrouded in mystery. Let's begin with the basics!

Lee Brand Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Here's an Asian kitchen staple you won't want to miss out on! This sriracha hot chili sauce is made with seasonings, sugar, and red chilis for a delicious, sweet, spicy taste. Boost the flavor of anything from ramen to quesadillas with this Lee Brand sriracha.

18.52 oz

The History of Sriracha Sauce

Officially, sriracha was first created in 1949 by Ms. Thanom Chakkapak, a resident of a small town in Thailand called Si Racha. However, the inspiration for the magical sauce came decades prior. Around the early 1900s, Cantonese immigrants from Shunde, China, came to live in Si Racha, and they brought with them chili pepper and garlic sauce from their native region.

Ms. Thanom Chakkapak must have gotten a taste of this sauce and loved it so much that she was inspired to develop her own version. The first bottles the Thai woman made were for her home kitchen, where she added them to a variety of dishes, especially seafood. Friends and family who tasted it encouraged her to market the product. So, she named it Sriraja Panich, after her town, Si Racha (AKA Sri Racha or Sri Raja). Her hot sauce soon became one of the most popular condiments in Thailand, and in 1984, she sold it to Thai Theparos Food Products, a major player in Thailand’s food industry. Today, Sriraja Panich is mostly sold in Thailand.

In 1980, something happened that would take sriracha global. David Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant in the United States, started a company called Huy Fong Foods to sell his own recipe for sriracha sauce. Having been a big fan of Sriraja Panich in the past, David used to make it in Vietnam by using chili peppers grown on his brother’s farm. Hence, he was perfectly qualified to bring the vinegar-rich sauce to Los Angeles, where his company was located.

Huy Fong Foods began by selling the sauce to restaurants in Chinatown, Los Angeles, which was home to many Thai and Vietnamese communities. As the sauce continued to grow in popularity across the US, David Tran refused to increase prices or trademark the name. As a result, competitors began to pop up and name their products sriracha. Fortunately for David, none of their products could unseat Huy Fong’s sauce as the leading sriracha sauce in the country.

Thanks to iconic packaging, organic marketing, great taste, and immense health benefits, Huy Fong Foods’ sriracha now supplies different variants of the sauce to over 40 countries worldwide. There seems to be no stopping the hot sauce giant!

The Health Benefits of Sriracha

Healthy sriracha chili sauce

No matter the brand, sriracha sauce is beloved by millions globally. One of the reasons for this success is the health benefits it provides. The sauce is rich in several nutrients, including carbohydrates, vitamin A, and sodium. However, its spicy nature, vinegar, and capsaicin content are believed to offer many health benefits, which we’ll explore below. Please note that some of these potential benefits require more scientific studies before confirmation.

  1. Fights Cancer: The capsaicin in sriracha may help to target and suppress cancer cells in the body by stopping their growth and spread.

  2. Prevents Liver and Heart Diseases: Capsaicin and vinegar also produce an antioxidant effect that may protect the body from liver diseases. Sriracha's vinegar content regulates blood pressure and its spicy nature is good for the cardiovascular system, helping to maintain good heart health.

  3. Reduces Weight Gain: Sriracha’s capsaicin is believed to reduce abdominal obesity and limit excess weight gain. Some experts recommend a reasonable amount of hot sauce to people trying to manage their weight.

  4. Nasal Congestion: Capsaicin may also lessen symptoms of nasal congestion and sneezing that are not due to allergies.

To get the best of these benefits, use sriracha products with all-natural ingredients and no artificial coloring. Three Mountains Original Sriracha is one of the best when it comes to natural red sauce options.

Three Mountains Original Sriracha: Red

Scared about the sriracha shortage? We've got your back! Hailing from Sri Racha, a town in coastal Thailand, this original red Sriracha sauce provides that familiar sweet heat to dishes. There are no artificial colors used to create this pretty bright red color. Instead, it's made from a simple mixture of chilies, salt, sugar, and seasoning. Drizzle this sriracha onto any dish that needs a boost of heat, like pasta, soups, and sandwiches.

Common Allergens: Tree Nuts.

10 oz

Huy Fong Foods: The Brand Behind the Iconic Green Cap

Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Thanom Chakkapak’s Sriraja Panich may have popularized sriracha among the Asian community, but David Tran’s Huy Fong Foods is responsible for bringing it to a global audience, starting with the United States. Ever since the creation of Huy Fong Foods, the company has gone on to become massively successful and popular. Its iconic packaging, a red bottle with a green cap, is one of the most recognisable on the market. In 2012, they sold over 20 million bottles. Today, Huy Fong sriracha, also referred to as rooster sauce because of the label, boasts three products:

  1. Sriracha: Huy Fong Foods’ best seller. It’s their original hot sauce product, consisting of chili, vinegar, garlic, and other ingredients.

  2. Chili Garlic: It’s thicker and chunkier than most hot sauces, with a slight focus on garlic flavors.

  3. Sambal Oelek: Ideal for lovers of pure and simple flavors, it only contains chili pepper as the main ingredient.

Business has been mostly smooth sailing for Huy Fong Foods, but in 2020 and 2022, the company experienced temporary supply shortages that created questions about their future and left consumers anxious. Thankfully, you can simply have the original HFF sriracha sauce delivered to your doorstep with Bokksu Market’s nationwide delivery.

Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Though it needs no introduction, we’ll make one anyway, to be polite. Sriracha is the bright red hot chili paste made from red jalapeno chili peppers, garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Originally meant for use in traditional Vietnamese foods like phở, Sriracha has taken the United States by storm in recent years. Apply it to anything from soup to hot dogs.

17 oz

The Sriracha Shortage: Causes and Impact

The sriracha shortages of July 2020 and April 2022 caught lovers of hot sauce by surprise. Those were trying times for the company and its consumers. But what caused it? How could such a massive company have been forced to halt production? We have all of the answers.

The Truth Behind Huy Fong's Sriracha Shortages

It all started in 2017, when HHF sued their sole chili pepper (red jalapeños) supplier of 28 years, Underwood Ranches. The company accused Underwood of overcharging them for 2016’s chili pepper harvest. Underwood Ranches countersued, accusing HFF of fraud and breach of contract. Unfortunately for HFF, the courts ruled in favor of both sides but they got the short end of the stick. They were ordered to pay Underwood Ranches $23 million in damages and only earned $1.4 million back as compensation for the overcharge. That was a massive blow worth $21.4 million, but what proved to be even more damaging was the loss of their long-standing chili pepper supplier.

In the aftermath, HFF struggled to find a replacement supplier. Things came to a headway in July 2020, when COVID-19 struck. The company claimed to have supply chain issues that would affect their production for a while. Although it was still possible to find HFF sriracha, the product was quite rare.

Some HFF sriracha lovers have had to resort to buying overpriced bottles on the black market. Others resorted to creating homemade sriracha by covering a fermented mixture in plastic wrap for days and straining it with a fine-mesh strainer.

The shortage ended up lasting for several years, causing consumers and restaurants to switch to other brands. HFF eventually found new pepper suppliers in Mexico, California, and New Mexico. However, on April 19, 2022, they announced that, as a result of drought and unfavorable weather conditions, there would be a more severe sriracha shortage lasting at least four months. For now, production seems to be back on track, but there is no guarantee that another shortage isn’t imminent.

Sriracha vs. Other Chili Sauces: What Sets It Apart?

If the shortage of one product can cause so many problems for consumers and restaurants, then it must surely be a special product. Compared to other types of chili sauce, sriracha uses garlic and sugar to balance the flavors of chili pepper and vinegar. It also contains way fewer ingredients than other kinds of chili sauces. In terms of spiciness, it can be considered mild.

Sriracha has a much thicker consistency than regular hot sauce. It’s so thick that it can be considered a paste, making it an ideal dipping sauce and food spread. Most sriracha products, especially Three Mountains Original Sriracha: Yellow, are sweeter than regular hot sauces.

Three Mountains Original Sriracha: Yellow

Scared about the sriracha shortage? We've got your back! This yellow sriracha uses Thai burapa chilies instead of red jalapeños, creating a spicy taste that's sweeter than typical sriracha. Add it to any dish you usually season with sriracha, like burgers, tacos, and pizza.

Common Allergens: Tree Nuts.

10 oz

Sriracha in Popular Culture: From Hot Sauce to Icon

Over the years, sriracha has permeated popular culture, making appearances in merchandise and media as a symbol of spicy food enthusiasts. These pop culture references have greatly contributed to its global popularity. The sauce is so beloved that some noodle brands, like Sapporo Ichiban Sriracha Yakisoba, come with pre-added sriracha. Below are a few pop culture examples:

  1. The Simpsons (The Food Wife): In season 23, episode 5 of The Simpsons, which aired in 2011, Bart is seen eating kimchi with what appears to be a bottle of sriracha sauce.

  2. Sriracha documentary film: 2013 saw the release of a documentary about the hot sauce. It was directed by Griffin Hammond and featured appearances from founder David Tran.

  3. Sriracha song: American rapper and singer Tech N9ne released a song titled Sriracha in 2016. In the song, featuring Logic and Joyner Lucas, he compares his rap style to sriracha chili sauce.

Culinary Uses of Sriracha Sauce

Using sriracha sauce in a variety of dishes

In truth, you can put sriracha on anything. Its balanced flavor profile makes it one of the most versatile types of chili sauce on the market. Sriracha can be used as a topping for a variety of traditional Asian dishes and Western cuisine, such as avocado toast, salad dressing, fried eggs, fried rice, ramen, udon, and pasta. It’s pasty texture makes it a fantastic dipping sauce for potato chips, tempura, grilled corn, spring rolls, and Vietnamese pho.

As a marinade, it pairs well with different types of meats. Sriracha also serves as an ingredient in dishes like spicy aioli, Korean beef tacos, and Thai coconut chicken. In drinks, you may find sriracha added to Bloody Mary and frozen margarita.

Pairing Sriracha with Foods: Tips and Tricks

Let’s help you get the best value from pairing sriracha with foods. Here are some tips and tricks to consider:

  1. To avoid overwhelming the dish with spice, gradually increase the amount of sauce you use until you reach your preferred spiciness level.

  2. Balance the tanginess of sriracha by pairing with lime or lemon, and balance the sweetness by pairing with honey or brown sugar.

  3. Combining sriracha with soy sauce, honey, lime juice, and garlic is the perfect combination to use as a marinade.

  4. You can make creamy sriracha dip by mixing it with mayonnaise, sour cream, and yogurt. 

Sriracha Around the World: International Adaptations

Different cultures have embraced sriracha, incorporating it into local cuisines and creating regional variations. It has become a vital part of the cuisine in the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, and Mexico. In Japan, another Asian country, you'll find sriracha as mayo. Some regions use it to make spicy peas and other snacks.

Kikkoman Sriracha Mayo

Ready for a new secret sauce? Kikkoman’s Sriracha Mayo combines smooth mayo with some extra heat from its popular red spice blend. The result is an easy-to-use condiment that doesn’t just add a little spiciness: it brings a ton of flavor, too. Use it on your sandwiches, or dip your fries. Anything mayo can do, Sriracha Mayo can do better.

Common Allergens: Eggs, Soy.

8 oz

The Future of Sriracha: Trends and Predictions

Although the threat of another Huy Fong Foods shortage looms in 2024, other sriracha manufacturers are ready to fill whatever gaps they create in the industry. Hence, we predict that sriracha will continue to grow in popularity, as experts are already predicting steady growth in the sriracha market from 2024 to 2031.

Why Sriracha Continues to Reign Supreme

The sriracha sauce has forever embedded itself in the hearts of Asian-American communities. It managed to break into the mainstream thanks to its convenient squeeze bottle design, mild spiciness, sweet taste, affordable pricing, and exceptional health benefits. For those reasons, sriracha remains a staple in kitchens and restaurants worldwide.

Author Bio

Sriracha: The Fiery Condiment That Conquered the World


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