Saturday, June 10, 2006

Tongue Curling Flavor

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an elixir that could make even the most ordinary food exciting to the buds – a wake-me-up to dispel boredom of the palate? A strike force of sensation. And for but pennies a serving? The closest that the science and art of food has come is the satori-inducing kick in the mouth, Sriracha Sauce!

Announced proudly by the Red Rooster on its busy plastic bottle face, Sriracha Sauce is curling tongues with its electric red flash across the continent and to the coast lines. Beware though, this sauce kicks with heat and more heat. But its not merely (or primarily) the bite that pleases, it’s the vinegary, slightly sweet, delicately salty flavor.

The WesFoodie had one crispy, olive oil infused slice of pizza at Sophia’s in Portland, Maine dipped in Sriracha and it made my vacation. Having a bottle of Srirachi on the counter next to the napkins immediately set this small shop apart from the rest – as soon as I saw the proud rooster under the green spout, I knew this was a place that honored taste over convention and propriety. It was a flag for Foodie Nation.

The chili-based sauce is ubiquitous on Southeast Asian restaurant tables and has made its way into hot dog stands, diner counters and eateries of all persuasions. Sriracha Sauce (Sauce Aux Piments Forts) has its origins in Vietnam but is produced in the U.S. – in the City of Angels – by Huy Fong Foods, a company founded by first generation American immigrant, David Trang. It is Trang’s zodiac sign that gives rise to the rooster on each bottle.

I’m not big on hot sauces generally. I usually prefer savory to hot. But since I first tasted Sriracha at Nha Trang in C-Town (probably the best, and one of the first, Vietnamese joints in NYC), I don’t like to eat a meal without it. Get yourself a bottle. Better yet, get yourself two - one for work and one for home. Each should cost between $2.50 and $4.00 and it will last ya. In Westchester it can be had at Naippon Daido in White Plains (522 Mamaroneck Avenue), Kam Sen also in White Plains (22 Barker Avenue), and Food Horizons in Larchmont (112 Chatsworth Avenue), among other fine Asian grocery stores.

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