Admit it: Sriracha is over. Its time has passed, its 15 minutes of fame are up, its bulb is dimming. The novelty of sriracha is finally beginning to wear off, and soon everyone will be looking for the next great spicy condiment. We have a few suggestions.
As recently as a few years ago, sriracha was the hot new thing itself. Everybody needed to have a bottle in his or her pantry to be considered cool, and bragging about what foods one used it on was de rigueur for anyone trying to sound hip. (“I put it on pizza!” “Well, I put it on mac and cheese!”) But now it’s just another run-of-the-mill condiment, one that has become boring and ubiquitous.
If you’re looking for examples of its having jumped the shark, here are a few: Heinz is now bottling sriracha ketchup, Taco Bell is rolling out a Sriracha Quesarito, Tabasco is making its own variety, the factory is a certified tourist trap, and that same factory has also been declared a “public nuisance.” Need more? Chain restaurants like Applebee’s, Pizza Hut, Jack in the Box, Subway, and even White Castle have all found ways to incorporate it into their dishes.
Sriracha sauce (with a lowercase “s”) is a variety of hot sauce made with chile pepper paste, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt, named after the coastal Thai city of Si Racha. It’s most commonly used on seafood dishes, phở, and spring rolls in its native Thailand, and some sources date it back to the 1930s.
Sriracha, with a capital “S,” is produced by California-based Huy Fong Foods, and has been sold since 1983. It contains all of the above ingredients along with preservatives and thickeners, and its spiciness level is slightly less than that of a jalapeño pepper. It can be identified by its bright red cap and prominent rooster logo, which is there because its founder, David Tran, was born in 1945, the Year of the Rooster.
We’re not saying that either sriracha or Sriracha need go to away, even though fast food chains should probably stop dousing everything with it and calling themselves trendy. All we’re saying is that there’s a whole wide world of spicy condiments out there, so there’s no reason to devote all your attention to sriracha. So read on to learn about ten more international spicy sauces. Should you decide to stock your pantry with them, you just might find yourself at the vanguard of a major trend.
Popular in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and other parts of the Caucasus, ajika is a spicy sauce made with red peppers and other ingredients that vary regionally, including garlic, dill, and walnuts. Several different varieties can be purchased at RussianProducts.com.
A trademark condiment of Turkey and other Anatolian countries, biber salçası is made with red peppers (with their seeds and stems removed) that are mixed with salt, sun-dried for about a week, and turned into a rich red paste. It’s used on many of the region’s primary dishes, and is also delicious simply spread on pita and crackers. You can find it on Amazon.