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Jul 20, 2014 04:31 PM

Pureeing the Myth of Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha sauce contains sugar that intrudes upon a true hot sauce enthusiast's appreciation of a sauce that is basically a hot peppers puree.

The sudden popularity of Sriracha sauce a decade ago, did not hit me until I was in the US and UK. There I even saw a housemate from Mainland China, already living in the UK for several years, claim that this Sriracha sauce was a necessary item for the kitchen table at all times.

We see how some region's appreciation needs to come with a watering down, or a corruption of the original. Likewise, these trends convert people to the watered down trend in taste. That is just my assessment.

A negative that grew from this hyped up appeal and marketing scam, was to see the more appropriate containers of hot sauce, a variety of two to three in some cases, at Chinatown restaurants be monolithically replaced with a single bottle of Sriracha.

That aforementioned affect in Chinatown is the same as seeing Boars Head 100% used as all deli meats.

This causes me for one, not to eat as a customer, in otherwise nice food venues, as I opt for real hot sauce, as opposed to this fraud. Pardon my expression.

Earlier this month Sriracha sauce made it on a list in the Financial Times, in the Arts Weekend section article entitled '6 Super-Hot Food Trends You Need to Know About'. The article predicted a buying spree that may cause Srirachi sauce to be in limited supply.

This speaks more about the ignorance of the taste of the masses, then it does true quality of a product.

And if this is not bad enough, there is even a cookbook based on this highly profitable phony hot sauce, that has watered down the tables of Chinatown. T-Shirst available also. Every myth needs a T-Shirt.

Let us not forget where from the chilli came to Asia.

To shatter the myth of this so called great sauce, I propose several better sauces that are a must for the kitchen:


Inca's Food Rocoto Super Picante


Sambal Oelek, by the Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods, contains no sugar and is a wonderful alternative to the hyped up commodity that took the world by storm about a decade ago.


The Habanero XXXtraHot Sauce El Yucateco Mayan Recipe is so wonderful and with the INCA rocoto suace, these do not contain seeds and particles of pepper skin, so they are a true sauce, that are great for cooking and adding to food at the table.


"Any other Sambal Oelek lovers out there? ... I add it to my peanut butter sauce, hubby likes it on scrambled eggs. ... the second ingredient in sriracha (the first ingredient in both is chiles; there's no sugar in sambal apparently)."-foodphilo

Mayan Kutbil-Ik by El Yucateco "We rescued this recipe from the culinary traditions of the ancient Mayan civilization, hence the name “Kutbil-Ik” Mayan word meaning “crushed chili”.

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  1. I doubt that there are any/many CHs who would prefer Sriracha over the others you mentioned.

    6 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      I am preaching to the choir. That is good.

      1. re: c oliver

        Depends on what you're using it for.

        1. re: On_yun

          Well if you are using it for tooth decay, the sugar that is, by all means.

          It might go well with ice cream....jest.

          If nothing else is around, I might put it on a hot dog.

          1. re: jonkyo

            LOL, with everything going on in the world today I'll sleep a little easier knowing dedicated individuals such as yourself are tackling the big sriracha issue.

            1. re: jonkyo

              Jest not. Ice cream with hot sauce does happen.


              I think the garlic in Sriracha would put me off though.

              1. re: jonkyo

                It makes great ice cream, actually

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I have to disagree.

              <We see how some region's appreciation needs to come with a watering down, or a corruption of the original.>

              Some would call that an improvement or variation. Not watering down or corruption. Otherwise, all American foods (let it be pizza or hamburgers) are all water down corruption.

              <...that has watered down the tables of Chinatown...>

              And most Cantonese Chinese kitchens uses Koon Chun condiment, and Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce.... Wide spread use does not mean watered down. P.S.: Lee Kum Kee is the first company which invented the oyster sauce. I doubt anyone can claim its oyster sauce is watered down.

              <I propose several better sauces that are a ...>

              Your first and third sauces are completely different sauces. It would be like saying Kikkomen Tamari is better than Koon Chun double dark soy sauce -- comparing apples and oranges.

              As for your second choice, I have it and I like it, but it is also a different thing.

              <Sriracha sauce contains sugar that intrudes upon a true hot sauce enthusiast's appreciation of a sauce....>

              It is what it is. Siracha chili sauce always has sugar. Japanese soy sauce tends to have a more alcoholic taste than Chinese soy sauce. We shouldn't say Japanese soy sauce intrudes soy sauce enthusiast's appreciation because it has an alcoholic flavor.

              44 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                Sriracha sauce is named after the Thailand location Si Racha. Many credit Thanom Chakkapak for creating this sauce. The Thailand made Sriraja Panich sauce traces its root to Thanom Chakkapak, and claims to be the original version. It is much sweeter since it has three times the amount of sugar than Huy Fong Sriracha.

                So.... if you want to call Huy Fong Sriracha has been watered down from the original recipe because Huy Fong's version has *cut down* the amount of sugar, then I can understand.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Perhaps all Sriracha sauces have no place on a table with food recipes coming from China.

                  As if China cannot make hot sauce.....


                  1. re: jonkyo

                    Oh I see where you are coming now. You are saying that Sriracha sauces should not be used for Chinese food, right? I thought you were saying something much wider.

                    It is an interesting idea. I can kind of see some levels of truth to this. However, there are thousands (or millions) of Chinese recipes. I am sure many of them will work well with Sriracha sauce.


                    Even if what you said is truth (that is Sriracha sauces have no place for Chinese food), the fault lies with the users, not the producers or creators of the sauces.

                    Let's say I drive my car into the river as a boat.... whose fault is it that the car sinks to the bottom of the river?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      "Even if what you said is truth (that is Sriracha sauces have no place for Chinese food), the fault lies with the users, not the producers or creators of the sauces."

                      That is exactly my point.

                      Of course in the home one is more liberal, to apply any hot sauce one likes. I typically have a Chinese and some others, though mainland does have a deficit in good factory produced hot sauces, that have a wide distribution.

                      On the island of Taiwan there are good sauces.

                      Srirachi I will have to say is the Roman Empire of hot sauces, crushing all individuated expressive hot sauces in its marketing path.

                      1. re: jonkyo

                        <Srirachi I will have to say is the Roman Empire of hot sauces, crushing all individuated expressive hot sauces in its marketing path.>

                        In Taiwan? Or in US? (the crushing thing)

                        At my local Chinatown (Philly), I see a lot of Srirachi in the Vietnamese restaurants. Most of the Chinese restaurants have something more like these:




                        I was from California, so I have been to SF Chinatown, Oakland Chinatown, Toronto Chinatown.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I'll add in LA, Seattle, Vancouver, Manhattan, Flushing. Oh, right, and recently Prague of all the unlikely places. No Sriracha.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            "In Taiwan? Or in US? (the crushing thing)"

                            In the US and some European places.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Consider your Philly existence a lucky one. That is in regards to Chinese venue hot sauce.

                            2. re: jonkyo

                              "...crushing all individuated expressive hot sauces in its marketing path."
                              You keep on mentioning their marketing.
                              Have you ever seen an ad for sriracha? On TV or print media? Heard one on the radio?

                              How do you figure they're a marketing juggernaut? It seems like you're just repeating it because you like the sound of it.

                              1. re: cowboyardee


                                I used to volunteered in presidential elections. Let me tell you there are the "air campaign" and "ground campaign" to any campaign/marketing.

                                Air campaign includes TV ads, TV interviews, radio radio ads.... . Ground game is about about knocking people's doors, churches, school clubs, asking for favors......etc.

                                Sriracha probably does not have a large air campaign, but it sends out local Chinese triads (mafia) to force you to use the sauce. Just saying.


                                Our friend, jonkyo, was probably a victim of this ground tactic.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Well, if three of these guys showed up at my door, I'd probably do whatever they ask me to...

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    Sometime they send out Srircaha girls who are more deadly.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Well, that might be nicer then these masked men, armed with squeeze bottle helmets.

                                      Oh, she has the threatening shaped helmet too. Well at least she smiles as she coerces the use of this quesi-or-psuedo hot sauce, I am sure in the congenial way.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Yes, and they sometime send out the real big guns: the Srircaha babies

                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                        Yes, the marketing arms people with costumes. This reminds Disney.

                                        I had olive oil pushers offer me a sample with small tasty bread. No olive costumes, just smiles and a nice short exchanged about cooking and olive oil.

                                        This my friends is campaign advertising.

                                    2. re: cowboyardee

                                      the marketing is mass displays on shelves in supermarkets, grocers, and restaurant tables.

                                      Supermarkets have long been divisive in marketing though display.

                                      The rooster is the symbol that carries to people's minds, the message of the brand.

                                      The bottle with its green squirt spout, is also a marketing ploy that makes its mark in people's minds similar to the green paper on the neck of Tabasco sauce.

                                      Packaging is important in any marketed item. They are thought up in some extent, by design and marketers, hired to sell the product.

                                      I think quality products do not need to be marketed in this manner. But people are conditioned by television and supermarket processed food etc.

                                      Best soup I have purchased is one without a wrapper, made by a local and sold to retailers in the open markets.

                                      Best hot sauce I have had has been in house made at family owned restaurants, regardless of cuisine.

                                      1. re: jonkyo

                                        My grocery stores has one facing for Sriracha and one each for all the others.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          A supermarket has more. Entire regions of shelfing dedicated.

                                          Like snapples and boars head, well, if like then you have lures to buy the product by giving free coolers, for large orders, with ad displays/

                                          I do not think they do that.

                                          1. re: jonkyo

                                            My "supermarket" is the same as my grocery store. Safeway, SaveMart, Raleys, etc. They each have ONE facing of Sriracha. They don't carry Boar's Head.

                                            You "do not think they do" what?

                                        2. re: jonkyo

                                          "I think quality products do not need to be marketed in this manner. "
                                          Just to make sure I understand you correctly, by 'in this manner,' you mean:

                                          In bottles. With a cap ostentatiously colored green rather than a more respectable corpse-gray. Along with a crudely drawn picture of a barnyard animal. And then placed on supermarket shelves.

                                          Right? This is how they crush competitors beneath their marketing blitz?

                                          1. re: cowboyardee


                                            In all honesty, I think jonkyo may be joking at this point..... I think.....

                                            <The rooster is the symbol that carries to people's minds, the message of the brand.

                                            The bottle with its green squirt spout, is also a marketing ploy that makes its mark in people's minds similar to the green paper on the neck of Tabasco sauce.>


                                            David Tran started his Huy Fong Sriracha in 1983. Back then, his "company" was just two of his relatives and himself, and they were barely getting by. This bottle design was pretty much from the old days, and it is as simple as it can get: just a rooster with a bunch of Vietnamese, Chinese and English white color texts. I don't think it can get more simple than this.


                                            I really doubt the three of them (barely makes ends meet) came up with some evil genius "bottle design" that crunched their competitors.

                                            Here is a photo of various different Sriracha sauces including the Huy Fong one. Pretty much any of its competitors has a more colorful and designer-like bottle.


                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              The green spout on a red bottle is more evocative of the freshly-picked pepper and its stem. Tabasco may have thought of it first, but it's imagery that pre-dates modern packaging.

                                          2. re: jonkyo

                                            I wish more stores would sell the *seriously* hot version of Sriracha. It has a red top instead of a green one and will last you twice as long.

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              I was excited and then saddened in Berlin to find the red cap version - when I saw it, I thought "FINALLY, I'm going to get some heat in the land of currywurst=spicy!" And then I tasted it and realized that while it was hotter than the German green cap version, it certainly wasn't hot by my standards - not even as hot as the American green cap version. I also found yellow and lavender caps in Germany that were supposed to be even milder. The search for actual HOT sauce in Germany continues!

                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                Strange. I've got a pretty high tolerance for heat, and I found the red top to be *significantly* hotter than the green top. I don't really think sriracha is produced differently in Germany (tho perhaps without the addition of HFCS -- who knows).

                                                I'm quite surprised that the red top sriracha doesn't seem to be available, at least at the Asian stores where I live.

                                                Also, most Asian grocers in Germany carry and abundance of hot and spicy condiments, including sauces. Shouldn't be all that difficult to find.

                                                Of course, there's always horseradish :-D

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  Are we talking about a different product by a different company? As far as I know all Huy Food Sriracha sauce bottles are green cap.

                                                  Red cap bottles may be a different brand.


                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    I am not aware of a red top bottle here in the PacNW either. If there is a hotter one I would like to try it.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Oh, yeah baby, come to mama! The one on the left is what I'm talking about. Aptly named sriracha *hot* chilli sauce.

                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                        So it is a different brand...

                                                        I will keep my eye out for it at the local Asian markets.

                                                    2. re: linguafood

                                                      Hm, interesting. I agree with you that the red top one is much hotter than the green here in the States, but that wasn't my experience there. I've also never seen the yellow or lavender tops here. Maybe it was a knock-off brand, although it did have the rooster on the label, if I recall correctly.

                                          3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Why do you think anyone is at fault at all?

                                        3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          My favorite Thai hot sauce is 'sweet chilli sauce (for chicken)' - the kind with chile flakes and seeds in a red syrup.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Is that Mae Ploy chili sauce? I wrap a shrimp in a won ton wrapper, fry and dip in that. Mmm.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Mmmm. And to take it back to the OP, we have so many,many choices. YAY!

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Called Jaew (แจ่ว) It is the Thia BBQ Sauce that is served with Gai Yang (ไก่ย่าง) and Moo Ping (หมูปิ้ง)

                                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I just found this Sriraja Panich at Grocery Outlet. The most obvious difference is that is smooth. It's hard to tell whether it's any sweeter. It certainly isn't a Thai style sweet chili garlic sauce (the sugar syrup with pepper flakes).

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Thanks. I should really try it myself as well. It does look to have a very different texture. Afterall, many credit it as the more original version.

                                              1. re: jpr54_1

                                                I will bring these sauces if I am ever mandated to purchase wings and eat them at Atomic Wings.

                                                Photo is when an ant grabbed my phone and snapped a photo. Ant view of wings at atomic wings.

                                                1. re: jonkyo

                                                  <Photo is when an ant grabbed my phone and snapped a photo.>

                                                  Ha. Your ant is getting too large. Stop feeding atomic wings to your ant -- because it is clearly mutated from the atomic radiation.

                                                  So what sauces are you going to buy? All the different version of Sriracha sauces?

                                                  Peace out.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    I like the looks of this word: ไก่ย่าง. so I shall begin with that one.

                                                    Of course I cook with the Thai curries, but I do not make them in the Thai fashion. I basically make them into a thick stew, thicker than gravy.

                                                    I add not a bit a sugar, but have added hot peppers, and use tons of garlic and ginger.

                                                    Bridging my enthusiasm for Thai curry with Thai sauces shall be interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

                                                    I have become so disappointed with Chinese hot sauces on the shelves of stores. I do stick to the Huy Fong sauces other than their hot seller.

                                              2. The original comment has been removed
                                                1. Sriracha (rooster brand, anyway) is extremely popular because it doesn't have the character of other hot sauces. It's heat, sweetness, acid and not a lot of depth on its own. And this is why it goes well on such a huge variety of foods, while many more flavorful and distinct hot sauces are left to their niche markets. It's a ketchup alternative, and not a bad one at that.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    Excellent explanation and not something I'd considered.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      If I were forced to eat pancakes, I might request a bottle to use on the pancakes, otherwise, I will pass.

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        Exactly. It adds a sparkle too a wide variety of foods. I use it a s a salt replacement while cooking and at the table. I need to minimize salt intake and the rooster is a big help.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          i agree. Sriracha should be placed in the ketchup / BBQ sauce area in grocery stores. It really is a stretch to call it a hot sauce and in most cases it would be an insult to real hot sauces if it were placed next to them.