The History and Uses for Sriracha Sauce

Two separate bowls of Sriracha sauce

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Although Sriracha sauce (a.k.a. "rooster sauce") has only been on the scene since the 1980s, it is quickly taking the culinary world by storm. Its flavor is unique, addictive, and wildly versatile.

What Is Sriracha Sauce?

This bright red, multi-purpose hot sauce is made from red chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar. The sauce is hot and tangy with just a hint of sweetness, which sets it apart from your garden variety hot sauces.

Sriracha sauce is often served as a condiment in Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants throughout the United States. There is some debate over the true origin of the sauce and rightly so: the most popular brand is manufactured in the United States by Huy Fong Foods, which is owned by a Vietnamese immigrant, and named after the local hot sauces in the small town of Sri Racha in Thailand.

The origins and influences of the sauce are multicultural as is its appeal. The sauce is no longer found only in Asian restaurants but also in the kitchens of chefs, the pages of culinary magazines, and on the shelves of grocery stores across the country. The sauce’s appeal is so widespread that the ingredients are listed in five languages on the bottle.

Sriracha History

In the early 1980’s, David Tran immigrated to the United States from Vietnam and settled in Los Angeles. Unable to find a hot sauce that he liked, Tran began making his own. 

Tran began selling the sauce out of the back of his van, and as the popularity of the sauce grew, Huy Fong Foods was born. The company grew swiftly, and more than 10 million bottles of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Sauce are sold every year.

How to Use Sriracha Sauce

Like most hot sauces, Sriracha is extremely versatile. Here are a few ways to enjoy the potent sauce:

  • Straight: Sriracha’s original use was as a dipping sauce. Squeeze some into a small bowl or squirt it straight from the bottle onto your favorite foods.
  • Sauces: Sriracha’s spicy, tangy flavor pairs wonderfully with creamy dips and sauces. Mix some Sriracha into sour cream, mayonnaise, or cream cheese-based dips for a little kick.
  • Soups/Stews: Sriracha is often served with pho in Vietnamese restaurants, but you can also try adding it to ramen, tomato soup, or gazpacho. Cream-based soups, like chowders, also benefit from Sriracha’s kick.
  • Meats/Marinades: Add Sriracha to teriyaki flavored marinades, BBQ sauces, meatballs, meatloaf, or chicken wings. Sriracha and meat were made for each other.
  • Eggs/Cheese: Anything creamy, including cheese and egg yolks, balances perfectly with the spicy, tangy flavor of Sriracha. Add Sriracha to macaroni and cheese, cheese dips, cheese balls, or scrambled, fried, or deviled eggs.
  • Drinks: Sriracha sauce adds a new twist to Bloody Marys or regular tomato or vegetable juice.

In 2011, The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 "Rooster Sauce" Recipes that Pack a Punch, written by Randy Clemens, was published. The book is a clear demonstration of Sriracha's versatility, popularity, and trendy appeal.

Purchasing Sriracha Sauce

Thanks to the seemingly endless popularity of Sriracha, it can now be found in most major supermarkets across the United States. Sriracha is usually sold in the Asian foods section and can be identified by its bright green cap and the rooster on the label. Sriracha can also be purchased from a number of online retailers, including the Huy Fong Foods website.​