For folks who love their food to bring on the heat, sriracha is a pantry must. It wasn't long before spicy food lovers discovered that sriracha was a hot sauce that tasted great on (or in) just about, well, anything. But what is the origin story of this versatile condiment? You may be surprised to learn this sauce’s humble beginnings.
The History of Sriracha
The origin of sriracha is mysterious, but it’s said to have been first produced in Si Racha, Thailand. The rooster sauce as we in the States know it, though, has a modern rags-to-riches story that epitomizes the American dream.
Huy Fong Sriracha is the flavorful brainchild of immigrant David Tran, who began making his hot sauce in Vietnam in 1975. In its early days, his sriracha went by Sa-te and was delivered around his hometown in upcycled baby food jars via bicycle. Just four years later, Tran found himself fleeing Vietnam on a Taiwanese freighter called Huey Fong (which would serve as inspiration for his future company’s name) to America. After settling into his new home, roughly one year later he began making his hot sauce once more in a 5,000-square-foot building in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Daily, he’d make pilgrimages in his blue van to restaurants and business owners with his assortment of sauces, such as chili garlic, sambal oelek, pepper sa-te sauce, sambal badjak and, of course, his sriracha hot sauce. Over the decades, through word of mouth (really—Huy Fong Foods has never had a marketing budget), the “secret” sriracha sauce was demanded in droves by consumers and is now sold in over ten countries.
According to the LA Times, sriracha sales have grown from “$60 million to $80 million in the last two years alone,” with no end in sight despite the fact that Tran has never sought to patent his signature sauce. Many companies, from Frank’s Red Hot to Kikkoman, now feature a “sriracha” hot sauce, and Tran isn’t the least bit concerned about it. The CEO has been quoted multiple times stating that his only goal was to create a hot sauce beloved by all and that product would always be prioritized over profit.
So, What Is Sriracha Anyway?
Now that you know the incredible and heartwarming history of sriracha, what exactly is it? Sriracha’s base comes from sun-ripened, locally grown red jalapeño chiles that are pureed into a paste, then flavored with ingredients like “sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum” (according to the bottle) and fermented for a few days.
Tasty Sriracha Recipes
If you're still a sriracha skeptic, we are here to convert you into a believer. We have a collection of recipes starring this beloved hot sauce that proves you can enjoy it with everything from eggs to soup.