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Hot Sauce Battle Heats Up

By Lorrie Baumann

The recent judge-ordered shutdown of a sriracha factory in Irwindale, Calif. has heat-lovers everywhere worried about where they will get their next bottle – a sriracha shortage is reported to be coming soon. Southern California newspapers reported last Thursday, the California Department of Public Health had ordered Huy Fong Foods not to ship its popular Sriracha hot sauce and two other sauces for the next 30 days while the department investigates whether the sauce is safe. As a result, batches of the company’s three sauces, Sriracha, Chili Garlic and Sambal Oelek, will not be shipped to food distributors and wholesalers until mid-January.

See the January issue of Gourmet News for much more about what’s happening in the world of hot sauce. 

The Guardian newspaper recently reported from London that sriracha sauce has become a cult condiment in the United Kingdom, and sriracha fans there are concerned about the possibility of a worldwide shortage of the fiery sauce if the plant closes. The newspaper quoted the Juliette Wall, Co-founder of the Pho Vietnamese restaurant chain, with a comment that many of the Pho restaurants were seeing customers eating whole spoonfuls of sriracha sauce with every bite of pho. “We’ve also had to add chillies to our noac cham sauce — which never had chillies in it before — to cater to the demand for heat,” the newspaper quoted Wall, spelling the word “chillies” to conform to British usage.

Scientists reported as far back as 1980 in a study supported by the National Science Foundation that all it takes for people to grow to like chili pepper is to be exposed to gradually increasing levels of chili in food, and people around the world are discovering that for themselves. People don’t stop feeling the burn when they eat chilis, the scientists say — they just get to like it. “There is a clear hedonic shift,” is the way University of Pennsylvania researchers Paul Rozin and Deborah Schiller put it.

Companiesandmarkets.com reported earlier this year that, “Spicy chili/pepper sauces have continued their incredibly swift growth pace in 2012, posting an estimated 9 percent gain in current value terms to reach sales of US$540 million,” and the IBIS World marketing research firm reported in 2012 that the hot sauce industry was the eighth-fastest growing industry in America, with hot sauce production revenue growing at 9.3 percent per year in 2011 and predicted to grow at an average annual rate of 4.1 percent over the following five years. IBIS also predicted that as the market expressed greater interest in spicier sauces, the market share for mild sauces would decline in favor of the hotter varieties.

In response to growing enthusiasm for the spicy condiment, Roland has just introduced Roland® Sriracha.  Roland  Sriracha is made from sun-ripened chiles and garlic with a hint of sweetness. The condiment is made in the traditional Thai style using an authentic recipe and then imported to the United States by Roland Foods.

Roland Feng Shui Sriracha PeasRoland is also bringing out Feng Shui Sriracha Chili Sauce Coated Green Peas for the snack foods aisle. Packaged in 4.4-ounce bags, the Feng Shui sriracha peas are zesty but not overwhelmingly spicy. They’re also gluten-free and made without artificial colors or MSG.

Named after the city of Si Racha in Thailand, Sriracha chili sauce has been used in Thai cuisine as a seafood condiment, and is also widely used in Vietnamese cuisine as a topping for pho, fried noodles, and spring rolls.  Sriracha can also be used as a replacement for your favorite hot sauce whenever you need a little spice.

Here are some additional serving ideas from Roland:

  • Add a squirt of Sriracha to your favorite condiment – mustard, mayonnaise, or ketchup
  • Drizzle popcorn with sriracha and toss for a spicy cinema treat
  • Top soups and stews with a bright red swirl of seasoning
  • Use a drop or two to add zest to salad dressings (plus the sauce works well as an emulsifying agent)
  • Mix a dollop into a bloody mary
  • Whisk some honey, soy sauce, and lime juice into sriracha for a marinade for grilled chicken
  • Saute sliced garlic and chopped ginger with sriracha in a hot skillet. Add sliced greens of your choice and cook until tender.