I get it, Sriracha flew too close to the Sun and lost its cool factor. All the branded Urban Outfitters t-shirts (even though none of that was licensed by the Huy Fong company), the stupid Sriracha keychains, and the fast food restaurants pimping out the name to sell sandwiches slathered in over-garlicked orange sauce made it a hard sell.
But taste it again. Forget that the Subway Sriracha chicken melt ever existed and just put a drop in your mouth. It’s fucking good. It’s fermenty, aromatic, sweet, and, for a common table sauce, it has some solid long-lasting heat to it. You owe it to Sriracha, yourself, and posterity to learn the process behind it.
Here are the ingredients:
1 lb fresh Fresno chilies or red jalapeños
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
3 Tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
You’re going to need about a pound of fresh red jalapeños or Fresno chilies. Most people think they’re the same, but most people are also wrong about most things. They’re a completely separate species of pepper and both have their merits. Fresnos are a little fruitier and more complex and pretty much better in every single way. So I guess both don’t have their merits. Only Fresnos have merits. Get Fresnos.
Slice off the stems of your chilies, while still leaving some of the green stem cap intact. That’s going to give you a funky grassy flavor in your final sauce, and Sriracha’s all about that funk. If you don’t like it hot (which is confusing because then, like, why are you making Sriracha in the first place?) remove the ribs and seeds.
Throw the chilies in a large sauce pot with 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar. Crank the pot on high to bring the mixture up to a boil, then simmer with a lid on for 15 minutes, until everything is tender. Let the mixture cool for at least 5 minutes, then throw it all in the food processor along with 3 tablespoons of Vietnamese fish sauce.
Sriracha is typically fermented for a couple days, but waiting is annoying and fermenting things for the first time can be frightening. Home-fermented food is awesome, but there’s always that creeping thought of “I think this could kill me” as you’re eating it. The fish sauce gives you a shortcut towards the ultimate goal of umami dankness because it’s already fermented.
After your Sriracha is all blended up, strain it—or not, I low-key prefer my Sriracha to have some chunk to it—and throw it in a condiment squeeze bottle you found at the 99-cent store. For the final step, go grab yourself either a burrito or a two-item combo plate with double orange chicken to give your Sriracha a test run. I went burrito. I fucking love burritos.
Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.
Photos by All photos by Josh Scherer