Last May, American food historian John T. Edge wrote an article for the New York Times on the Rooster brand of Sriracha chile sauce made by Huy Fong Foods, a company owned by David Tran, a Chinese Vietnamese immigrant. Sriracha lovers across America did a Pace Picante kind of double take when they realized that the hot chili sauce was manufactured in a Rosemead, California, not some exotic locale in tropical Vietnam. John T’s analysis of Sriracha’s wide ranging success and cross-cultural uses made me wonder: Is Sriracha destined to be the uber Asian chile sauce?
Pim of ChezPim.com, born and raised in Thailand, led a lengthy Twitter discussion to clarify that despite Rooster brand’s Sriracha being THE go-to condiment for Vietnamese pho noodle soup, Sriracha is of Thai origin and not Vietnamese whatsover; Sri Racha is a seaside town in Central Thailand and the namesake chile sauce got its start there. John T.’s piece told the complex tale of an immigrant hot sauce in America, but he didn’t delve deeply into Sriracha itself. That wasn’t the point of his story. However, Pim’s Twitter discussion and my subsequent conversation with her about Sriracha led me to wonder about what other kinds of Sriracha sauces are out there in the American market. So I set about over the past 8 weeks to collect, taste, and make Sriracha hot sauce. This post is one of two on Sriracha.