Sriracha (pronounced see-ra-cha) made by Huy Fong, also known as "Rooster Sauce," has an almost cult-like following among college students and spicy food lovers around the world. Sriracha has been on the table in many Chinese restaurants (among others) for years. In its very recognizable see-through bottle with a bright green pour top, it is a fairly elusive quarry at the store. I spent 15 minutes walking around the local Asian grocery store trying to find that rooster. It ended up being on the bottom shelf hanging out with the other chili sauces. Sriracha is available at almost all Asian grocery stores and is making its way into the mainstream grocery market as well.
Huy Fong's Sriracha boasts, according to the bottle, "sun-ripened chilies" with sugar, garlic, salt, and distilled vinegar, among other things. The flavor is, well, spicy but not too overpowering. The flavors blend together well, making it almost like a fancy ketchup. Fancy ketchup is a terrible way to describe it because it does not taste anything like ketchup, but it does have that hint of vinegar which is an acquired taste for some.
It's become very popular in the United States as a "Thai sauce," as it is named after the Sri Racha seaport in Thailand. Many Thai food aficionados believe that the sriracha sauce found in the United States is somewhat of an impostor. In Thai cooking, it is used more often as a sauce for dipping, usually meats. There are other versions that are more authentic to the Sri Racha region of Thailand. Specifically, the Shark Brand Sriracha sauce that is made in Thailand and is sold by Import Foods offers more of a "mix of chile heat, and sugar/garlic/vinegar overtones to make it tangy and a bit sweet." Another brand of sriracha made in Thailand is the Por Kwon Brand, also sold by Import Foods, which has a "fresh-tasting heat, with stronger garlic and sugar tones to give it a nice finish."
In the United States, sriracha been used more as an everything sauce, put on top of hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches. One could see it in anything from spaghetti sauce to chicken wings to various dips. It lends itself well to many flavors that use garlic and chilies. It is particularly good mixed with mayonnaise or a good hummus. Sriracha can be used in almost everything to enhance the flavor or bring some heat to the dish.
The heat offered by Huy Fong's Sriracha sauce is enough for some but too much for many. I personally love a good heat in anything I eat which makes sriracha a perfect choice for me. The vinegar component does not overpower the chili flavor and it has a perfect sweetness that makes it possible to use just a little more to make whatever it is on spicy. I can't wait to try it in more recipes that would not necessarily lend themselves to a Thai chili sauce.