Let’t Talk Food: Tasting various sriracha sauces

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Various sriracha sauces.

In a recent special on NPR, the famous U.S.-made Huy Fong Sriracha sauce was taken to Si Racha, Thailand, known for its hot sauce.

The people took pride in their hot sauce; after all, it was named after their town. Samples of the sauce were given to ordinary people at the market, and all of the native Si Rachans did not care for the American-made Huy Fong Sriracha sauce as they thought their sauces from the region were so much better.

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According to a March 2013 article in Bon Appetite, ‘The Original Sriracha” by Andrea Nguyen: “The Thais also make many versions of the sauce (all of them called some variant of sriracha), which tend to be more liquid and pourable than Huy Fong’s Sriracha Panich, has a lovely balance of bright chile heat, delicate sweetness, vinegary tang and garlicky backnote. Though I’m not a heat seeker, I can practically drink the ‘strong hot’ version.”

“Sriracha Panich is still made using natural ingredients and aged for at least three months to bring out the chili’s natural flavor. Vinegar is slowly added on a weekly basis to gradually merge the flavors of the ingredients. This is all done naturally, without the use of artificial chemicals or preservatives.”

In Thailand, sriracha sauce is commonly served with rice and omelets. It is also an added ingredient in making pad thai noodles.

This sparked my interest, so I went looking for sriracha sauces and wanted to compare them to the now famous American Huy Fong sriracha sauce.

I found sriracha chili sauce manufactured by Kosol-Ampa Co. Ltd of Chonburi, Thailand, at TK’s Noodle House in Kailua-Kona. At KTA, I found Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce, Huy Fong sriracha sauce, both of America, and Flying Goose Brand Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce from Sri Racha/Rayong, Thailand.

I made some chicken summer rolls, and Dean and I worked on tasting the two sriracha sauces from the U.S. and the two from Thailand side-by-side. The Sriracha Chili Sauce from Chonburi, Thailand, was complex with a balance of sweet, sour, salty and hot, just like most Thai foods. But in comparison, the Flying Goose brand from Si Racha was complex and balanced like the other sriracha sauce from Thailand, but this one was nice and hot. It was a complete sauce and certainly the winner in our book.

The Huy Fong sauce was very thick with complex chili flavors. It had a lot of heat, but was only one dimensional. Because of its heat, it worked well with the addition of either catsup or mayonnaise to make it more balanced. Our immediate favorite, because of its complexity and heat, was the Flying Goose Brand Sriracha chili sauce from Thailand, although we enjoyed the Thai sriracha sauce by Kosol-Ampa Co. with steamed broccoli.

Reading the ingredients on the label, the Thai sriracha sauce contains sodium benzoate as a preservative. The Flying Goose sauce contains potassium sorbate, which is a white salt commonly used as a food preservative. It is naturally found in some fruits. Huy Fong sriracha sauce contains potassium sorbate and sodium bisulfate, and the Lee Kum Kee Sriracha sauce contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, although it was our least favorite.

Foodie bites

Sriracha sauce was created 80 years ago, according to Bon Appetit, by Thanom Chakkapak from Si Racha, a seaside district in Thailand. She made a sauce for her family and friends, who encouraged her to sell it commercially. Her sauce became the best-selling chili sauce in Thailand. In 1984, Chakkapak sold the company to Thai Theparos Food Products.

Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Arts program’s The Cafeteria is open 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Call 934-2551 for specials of the day. The Bamboo Hale is also open and the schedule is as follows:

• Today through Thursay, Asian Standard menu and the Philippines.

• March 5-8, Asian Standard menu and China.

• 6 p.m. March 6, Dinner and Wine Special; call 934-2591 for reservations.

• March 12-15, European Standard menu and Spain.

• March 27-29, European Standard menu and France.

• 6 p.m. March 27, Dinner and Wine Special; call 934-2591 for reservations.

• April 2-5, European Standard menu and Italian cuisine.

• April 9-12, European Standard menu and Germany.

• April 23-24 Hawaii Special.

Many of the dinners are sold out, so don’t wait too long to call for reservations.

Please support the college and check out the second-year students.

The 2019 Big Island Chocolate Festival gala event is slated for 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. There will be cooking demonstrations, tequila and chocolate pairing, 25 food stations, unlimited beer and wine pours and an all-you-can-eat chicken mole bar.

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association Inc.

Other events include a cacao farm seminar/workshop and the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory Farm Tour on April 26 and a cooking demonstration on April 27.

Check out the Big Island Chocolate Festival website for more information and to make reservations.

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Mark your calendar for the 2019 Ka‘u Coffee Festival, which is slated for April 26-May 5.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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