First, it's important to clear up some confusion. "Sriracha" as a general term is a type of hot sauce from the coastal city of Si Racha of Thailand. It is believed that it was first served as a condiment to seafood in local restaurants, and is made from a combination of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. There can be variations in the sauce consistency and flavor based on the manufacturer and country of origin; the sauce is also popular in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is regularly served as a condiment for pho, spring rolls and fried noodles.
The specific Sriracha sauce known to most in the United States, and recognizable by its iconic rooster label, is a Sriracha sauce made by Huy Fong Foods, Inc. Huy Fong Foods began in 1980 in Los Angeles, California, producing by hand a Pepper Sat Sauce. The recipe came from the company founder, who had been producing it in his home country of Vietnam before coming to the States. As the company grew they added additional products to their line of sauces, including their now famous and much in-demand version of Sriracha.
What makes their Sriracha so good, and so popular today with cooks and food lovers everywhere? The secret seems to be in the simplicity of Huy Fong Foods recipe and their dedication to quality ingredients. There are no artificial colors or ingredients, just "sun ripen chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic and packaged in a convenient squeeze bottle" as their website promises. The brilliant red-colored sauce not only looks delightful on the plate but packs a serious yet complex taste. It's not just a hot sauce about adding heat; it adds a richness of flavor to almost any dish that becomes addictive once you've developed a taste for it.
I first encountered Sriracha sauce on the table of my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Philadelphia, some ten or twelve years ago. Back then, I had to shop in Chinatown markets in order to track down a bottle to use at home. Today, Sriracha has become so popular that it is easy to find in many large supermarkets and grocery stores everywhere. People are discovering how Sriracha complements far more than just Asian cuisine, using it on everything from tacos to pizzas and hamburgers.
Sriracha sauce - Wikipedia
Sriracha sauce (Huy Fong Foods) - Wikipedia
"A Chili Sauce to Crow About" - The New York Times