A couple of incidents last week led me to realize that there may be much misunderstanding about Sriracha chile sauce. The first occurred on the October 2011 Food Finds post. Upon checking out Jess Dang’s pitch for a Sriracha documentary film project, @Chrisjone commented that Jess had incorrectly described Sri Racha as an island. It’s a town with seaport. There’s an island nearby. I notified Jess of the error and she promptly corrected it.
The second incident was related to the 2011 CHOW 13 Award listing of influential food people. Coming in at lucky number 8 was David Tran of Huy Fong Foods, the maker of the Rooster brand of Sriracha. I’m quoted as saying that many people don’t know whether or not the Rooster brand’s version of Sriracha is Thai or Vietnamese. It’s kinda messed up and mixed up, I told writer John Birdsall.
Case in point, I’m often asked about Sriracha even though it’s not a traditional Viet staple. In The Sriracha Cookbook, Randy Clemens's introduction describes the hot sauce as an beloved condiment at Asian markets, upscale restaurants, and even Wal-Mart. Clemens follows up with the Thai backstory in a separate chapter but he opens up the book by framing the "Rooster sauce" as a “mainstay in many home kitchens and innumerable college dorm rooms.” This coming Sunday, Sriracha will be part of a Simpson's foodie episode!
After reading the CHOW entry on Tran, Pim Techamuanvivit texted me, “Sriracha sauce is definitely Thai.” Of course, Pim and I know that because we’ve talked a lot about the hot sauce. I’ve had her over for a Sriracha taste-off between Vietnamese, Viet-American, and Thai brands. But not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a Bangkok-born friend who’s also a persnickety food expert.
That said, I’m throwing out some points here about Sriracha for your consideration and comments: