|Does anyone not have a Sriracha bottle that's inexplicably almost empty at all times? - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Where salsa is the official condiment of choice for the greater Southwest region of the States, I'd wager Sriracha is the gold standard for the greater Seattle metropolitan area, and likely Portland as well. Maybe it's the cold weather and our inability to sweat naturally from the sun that refuses to show up, but we literally pour this stuff on everything. It's a good match for the unofficial local food of Seattle, which is teriyaki. Don't cringe or wrinkle your nose -- we've got as many neighborhood teriyaki joints as we do Starbucks, and given the fact that there's probably a Starbucks within the bathroom of Starbucks, that equation equals a whole lotta effin' teriyaki. And what else goes better with quickly seared soy-glazed meats? The rooster-emblazoned sauce of champions, of course.
|How we're used to seeing Sriracha -- in just about everything! - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
So we've established Sriracha's lofty position on the Condiment Food Pyramid of Justice (no capes or utility belts required), but why is it such a superior sauce that rocks our food casbahs to eleven? It's not particularly flavorful, just mildly savory with a bit of a vinegar edge. You'd think it would taste like buffalo wing sauce, but in fact it's quite mild, yielding mostly to its powers of Scoville Unit-worthy heat. And that's probably why it's so versatile a sauce -- it literally can go in everything. I use it to make some heat for any and all forms of stir fry, or any Asian-style dish for that matter. Even Southwest food. Whether it's a savory soy and peanut sauce or a big casserole dish of enchiladas, Sriracha compliments everything so well, just lending that secondary element of heat, bearing in mind you're not trying to create your own sweat lodge in a single meal. Just a squeeze, if you please.
|A drink that will kick your ass as well as your liver - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
So what about drinking Sriracha? No, not a frat bet gone wrong where you're shotgunning a little glass of the stuff. What about adding a rooster kick to a Bloody Mary? I gave this a whirl a little while back when I had leftover tomato juice from a brunch and some fragrant ingredients like fresh lemongrass, cilantro and ginger handy. Why not combine all this together in a spicy boozahol beverage with an Asian twist? I put together this spicy little cocktail one weekend and was pleased with the result. Not that most dim sum places serve alcohol, but I have to say, this would be dandy with some pork and shrimp dumplings. The key to preparing this drink is the new catchphrase of choice: Infuse Your Booze. I muddled fresh ginger in some vodka and let it sit for a few minutes, but if you can let it soak for a longer period of time, I think it would just make for a more flavorful drink.
Bloody Sriracha (makes about a small pitcher's worth or 5-6 drinks, depending on the lushes you have over)
1 bottle/36 oz of tomato juice
2 cups vodka infused with a tablespoon of fresh ginger (let it steep for at least 15 minutes)
1 lime, juiced (about 2 or 3 tablespoons' worth of juice)
1 tablespoon of Sriracha (to start, can add more if you hate your guests)
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce or worcestershire sauce
5-6 lemongrass spears, split
Small handful of fresh cilantro
for garnish: smoked salt and sprigs of cilantro
In a large pitcher full of ice, combine all the ingredients and stir roughly, letting the ice and spoon help muddle the lemongrass and cilantro. Taste it and add more worcestershire or fish sauce to your taste, if you want it to be more savory, as this recipe favors more of the flavors of the citrus, ginger and cilantro. Let it sit for a few minutes before pouring through a strainer into glasses that are rimmed with smoked salt. Keep the lemongrass spears and set in glasses for garnish and keep a few sprigs of fresh cilantro to also use as garnish, if you like.