Some like it hot: cooking with Sriracha

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It’s been called the “underground king of condiments” and its hip culinary cred comes, in part, from high-profile trendy chefs who are squirting it on everything from albacore tuna to zucchini.  But it’s not just the culinary elite; mainstream eateries  have boldly set the sassy bottle on tables right next to the tried-and-true duo of ketchup and mustard.


bigtastes-03-2013-001 David Tran emigrated from Vietnam in the ’70s and founded Huy Fong Foods in Rosemead, Calif.  He started producing the trademark red jalapeño “rooster” sauce 32 years ago, so technically it’s not really “new,” but when compared to the 144-year-old Tabasco sauce, it’s still a baby crawling around the kitchen.  Here’s a hot side note: Lays launched a “Do Us A Flavor” campaign late in 2012, where a Sriracha-flavored chip made it to the finals.  Maybe, just maybe, we could see Sriracha-laced chips on the shelves permanently, that’s if it wins the consumer chip-off.

Unlike the vinegar-based Tabasco, which smacks you with a searing fire to the tongue immediately, foodies, myself included, like the afterburn Sriracha delivers. It’s like, wait for it, wait for it then KABOOM, there it is.  It hits you on the way down.

So, for those not intimidated by a red hot rooster on a bottle staring down at you from the top shelf of the grocery store – reach for it and start experimenting; your taste buds won’t be sorry.

Bang Bang Shrimp

bigtastes-03-2013-003I know I’m not alone in loving  Bonefish Grill’s signature bang bang shrimp. There’re recipes swimming and crawling all over the Internet about the perfect way to effectively clone that combination of crispy spicy sweet texture-taste explosion for your mouth.

But why limit this spicy sweet sauce to just shrimp?  How about bang bang chicken, bang bang soft shell crabs, or bang bang fried oysters?

The point being,  this sauce is so versatile, so easy and so so delicious on just about anything.

For the sauce
½ cup of mayonnaise
¼ cup sweet chili sauce
2-5 teaspoons Sriracha hot chili sauce (or to taste)

For the shrimp
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Corn starch
Chopped green onions, white & light green parts optional
Canola oil for frying

Directions
Toss shrimp in corn starch in a medium shallow dish, set aside.  Whisk mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce and Sriracha sauce together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy skillet or wok until just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp tossing continuously until they turn bright pink and begin to turn golden brown. When shrimp are done, add enough bang bang sauce to generously coat the shrimp. Serve in lettuce leaves and garnish with green onions.

Devil’s Food Sriracha Cupcakes with a Strawberry filling and Cream Cheese Frosting

bigtastes-03-2013-007I’ll be honest with you here… Sriracha and chocolate? I had a great big NOPE in my head, but then I made them, in fact, I made them for my daughter, Sophie, and her friends. They loved them (especially the guys – hot sauce must make eating a cupcake more manly).

The chili sauce gives the chocolate more depth and richness, while the strawberry jam adds a touch of sweetness.  It’s fabulous – you won’t look at cupcakes the same way again. Let me add a little cheat here – you could also use your favorite devil’s food cake mix.

Also, if you’re still a little wary of the chocolate/Sriracha combo, try making mini cupcakes that pack a big bite.

Devil’s Food Cake | Makes 12-14 cupcakes
adapted from “Cooking” by James Peterson
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, cut into eight pieces
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate pieces
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs beaten
1-1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha sauce
Strawberry jam

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard-sized muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Heat butter, sour cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in Sriracha sauce.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and eggs until well blended. On low speed, add the chocolate mixture, then the flour. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl making sure everything is mixed evenly together – do not over mix. Fill each liner with a scant ½ cup of batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the tester inserted comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed. Cool completely. Using an apple corer or small paring knife, cut a small hole in each cupcake and pipe in strawberry jam.  Can be made one day ahead. Store covered in the fridge.

cream cheese frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
16 ounces confectioners’ sugar (about 4 ½ cups)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Directions
Beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla on medium until smooth using an electric mixer. Slowly add the sugar (and I mean slowly or you will have a confectioner’s sugar cloud in the kitchen) and beat until incorporated and smooth. Spread or pipe frosting over cooled cupcakes. Can be made one day ahead and stored in the fridge. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Sriracha Pork Burgers

bigtastes-03-2013-005If pork isn’t your thing, just use ground beef, chicken, or turkey.  You could also add a can of diced tomatoes and turn the “burgers” into “sloppy Sriracha-Joes.”

ingredients | Makes 4
1 pound ground pork
1 bunch green onions, sliced white and light green parts only
4-5 mini-sweet peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 – 1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha sauce

Directions
Combine the above ingredients and form into four burgers.  Grill over medium heat until cooked through and no longer pink inside, about 5 minutes on each side.  Serve on a toasted ciabatta roll with lettuce and Sriracha mayonnaise or Sriracha ketchup.