Sriracha sauce, a spicy Thai-style condiment made with chilis, is currently perched precariously on a cultural pinhead, teetering between cool and totally passé.
You see, in the life cycle of a food trend, first, people love it. Then they hate it. Then they love to hate it. And when they finally start hating to hate it, the circle of life is complete and we drop it like a used napkin.
The demographic most responsible for this vicious cycle? Hipsters. And, I propose, the most hipstery condiment out there is sriracha.
Hipsters—a breed of educated, urban, irony-wallowing young person—might be to the last few years what goths were to the mid 90s. (Or that’s what I’m told; this is me pretending to be old enough to really remember, in order to gain your trust as a reader.)
When we first met The Hipster, we were entertained by their skinny legged pants and giant headphones. But then we were pissed. (“Damn hipsters are all up in my favorite coffee shop, hogging the outlets with their MacBooks!”) Then, we were pissed together, enjoying the camaraderie of mocking them.
Now, this cultural phenomenon is approaching its fourth and final stage. But instead of hating, if we haven’t already, we should at least embrace this tasty sauce the hipsters have done us the favor of bringing into the spotlight from the back of a dusty international foods shelf.
It’s one of those tastes-good-on-just-about-anything sauces, but it is quite a bit spicier than your average Frank’s Red Hot, for example. So a little goes a long way. Try squirting it on anything you’d normally put ketchup or barbecue sauce on, for starters.
I set out to use sriracha in a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner for a whole day of too-cool-for-school dining:
Perfect addition to any egg dish. If you’re scrambling eggs, try whisking the sauce (about 1/4 teaspoon per egg) directly in with the eggs before you cook them. Since it’s so spicy, spreading it throughout the eggs instead of drizzling it on top or dipping can help distribute the zing. I made sriracha scrambled eggs served atop a piece of buttered whole wheat toast. Simple but solid.
Start with basic homemade guacamole. Mash up an avocado with half a lime’s worth of juice and salt to taste. Mix in a half to a whole teaspoon of sauce per 1/4 cup of avocado, depending on your personal taste bud sensitivity.
Spread the spicy guac on a grilled cheese sandwich. I made sandwiches with sourdough bread, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Yes, you could just squirt the sauce on top of this kind of sandwich, but it tasted better united with the avocado.
Marinated chicken. Whisk 2 tablespoons sriracha with 1/4 cup oil, a few tablespoons of soy sauce, and garlic powder to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon), and pour into a zip-top plastic bag. Soak your chicken (I used tenders) overnight, then cook however you wish. Somehow (magic!) these emerged without the distinctive sriracha chili taste, but with a very barbecue-y flavor instead. To be honest, they tasted much better than expected, mostly because I’d intended to add honey to the marinade, too, but forgot. Whoops.
You can also mix sriracha with:
Marinara sauce for pasta
Worcestershire and horseradish for a shrimp cocktail dip
Or put straight onto:
Tacos or burritos for some cross-cultural spiciness
Illustration by Claire Jelly.