I don’t think I’ve yet to encounter a meal that Sriracha doesn’t make better. Chicken? Throw some of the stuff on it. Hamburgers? More like shamburgers if I don’t spot a bottle of Sriracha near it. Hell, it even goes brilliantly on ice cream if the mood/ brick to the head strikes you. But finding original recipe Sriracha locally, isn’t easy.
I’m prefacing this right now by saying that the Huy Fung Sriracha is the undisputed champ, now and forever. Like a WWE title reign powered by an entire roster of heels. And while Huy Fung Sriracha has gone global, you’d be hard-pressed to find it locally. This I know, as I’d usually bring back a few bottles of the stuff when returning from a US trip. Target knows my face and taste by heart now.
That’s not to say that you can’t find the magnificent hot sauce locally. If you’ve never tried it, Sriracha tastes like a combination of garlic and heat, with just the right amount of flavour added in for good measure. It has of course given rise to a wave of pretenders, who would dethrone the Huy Fung company from their iron throne. But are the local options any good?
If you’re hungry to find out, you’ve got three easy to find choices:
Out of the three brands I tried out, the Suree variant probably comes the closest to emulating the flavour of Huy Fung’s trademark cock sauce. It’s got the burn, it has the colour and it certainly has the flavour to match all the requirements necessary to be considered a Sriracha sauce. Suree’s key difference however, may be in its viscosity.
Unlike regular Sriracha which is a sticky thick sauce at times, Suree brand sauce is looser. That’s not entirely a bad thing however, as that makes it easier to get out of the bottle and onto your meal. It’s a damn good substitute to the real stuff, Stevia Coke to the usual diabetes in a can if you will. It’s possibly my favourite sauce on this list, and I’m already halfway through the stuff after less than a month. I’m going to have to order more.
Nhan Con Ngong Bay Sriracha
You’ve heard of the hot cock, now make room for the flying goose brand! This was the first Sriracha variant that I managed to get my hands on locally a few years ago, and it didn’t disappoint. While the Huy Fung Sriracha has a distinctive garlic flavour, the bottle I found at Woolworths offered a heavier focus on the actual flavour of the chilli used inside.
Sweeter, but in a subtle manner that gave it an edge. It still has that wonderful bite to it, and I’d wager that it’s just as sticky as the original stuff coming out of the bottle. Like the Suree brand, it’s also bottled and manufactured in Thailand, for that that extra dash of authenticity. And really, you can’t go wrong with having a bottle of this stuff around as a gateway sauce.
Flaming Tiger Sriracha
And last on the local list, is Flaming Tiger Sriracha. Produced locally as well, it has all the qualifications that you’d look for in a Sriracha: Green cap, red bottle and most of the same ingredients. It’s also crap. See, the thing is with the Suree and Flying Goose variants are that they still taste good, even if they are imitations of the real deal. I wouldn’t turn my nose up at either of them if they were the only option on the table.
Flaming Tiger however, tastes like an ersatz version of Sriracha. It’s got a horrid aftertaste, is too sweet and the colour looks sickly at best. I don’t just dislike the stuff, I properly hate and despise it. In my new world order, ruining Sriracha will be a capital crime along with allowing Steve Hofmeyr to speak in public.
There’s just something wrong with the stuff, although I’d be the first to admit that taste is subjective. Still, it’s an opinion that I don’t think that I’ll be sharing on my lonesome.
And that’s it! You can find 2/3 of the good stuff online at places like YuppieChef, or in retail shops such as Pick ‘N Pay, Checkers or the whitest place on Earth: Woolworths Food Market. Prices aren’t too bad either, with a bottle setting you back between R60-R75 depending on the market. But it’s a bottle that goes a long way towards making everything on your plate taste of awesome and fire.