The Truth About Sriracha

The Truth About Sriracha
By Chongchen Saelee

If you’ve grown up in America in even the most semi of Asian culture, you might be familiar with Huy Fong Foods brand of sriracha, otherwise now synonymously known as “Sriracha” with a capital S in ‘murica. Much like how Americans only fell in love with Chinese wire-fu with Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, there seems to be a late to the train game going on. But mostly, this chili sauce is catching on because it has become known as the hipster ketchup. And ketchup has a stigma for being cheap and junk food (sugar, vinegar, and red dye, no tomatoes whatsoever). These modern hipsters are putting it on EVERYTHING. But real Asians were just using it in pho.

As far as taste goes, Huy Fong Foods sriracha is just ground red jalapeno peppers (all this time I thought they used Thai peppers, whoo, that would kill), garlic, vinegar, and some preservatives. Nothing fancy. It isn’t spicy. It is, however, very garlicy and vinegar strong. I’ll even say it’s more like a concentrate. That is why you put it in a broth, such as pho, to dilute it.

So when a hipster, who means well, says that it is spicy, either they haven’t had real spicy food before, or they’re just trying to compliment it because they think that’s what Asians want to hear. But it’s cool, though, that they’re actually experimenting and crossing into different cultures. Hipsters want to be hip, no digit widget skip it I can dig it?

One bottle of Huy Fong Foods sriracha for your household should last you months, maybe even a year, with normal consumption. That is, unless you eat it like a dumb-ass or own an incredibly high traffic pho restuarant. I saw a hipster eat it on a chocolate chip cookie, and I winced. There are also vidiots chugging it by the bottles or bowls as challenges. You wouldn’t consume that much of any food, yet you need to do it with the “hip” sauce. I haven’t seen any hipsters down gallons of mayo as a challenge. Maybe because mayo isn’t “cool”.

Anyway, it’s kinda cool. Ketchup, as it turns out, was a Chinese invention all along. The word is derived from a Chinese word. The only thing that changed was replacing any of the fermented fish components with shit ton of sugar and other filler artificial ingredients. At least with Huy Fong Foods sriracha, you know a good chunk of that is still jalapeno peppers, garlic, and vinegar.

And you should be thankful it’s still being sold on the cheap. You know what you’re eating.

If the big wigs get their way, they’re going to do the same thing to it that they did with ketchup. They’ll replace it with frozen chilis, or chili paste or powder, or all sorts of other filler. And you’ll only be buying it for the brand name. That infamous rooster logo might get cartoonized into a mascot, and you’ll be paying a little more for it. Yes, there are many brands of sriracha out there, but for now, if you enjoy Huy Fong Foods’ particular version, then enjoy it while it’s real. Much like pho, you can’t fake it. That’s why it’s a marriage of food.

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