Sriracha was named Ingredient of the Year by Bon Appetit Magazine in 2009, and like many things that peaked in 2009–swine flu, Shia LaBoeuf and landing planes on the Hudson River, among them–many are eager to usher it out of the zeitgeist, with food blogs and magazines alike declaring that horseradish has overtaken Sriracha as the spice du jour.
Not so fast, I say. Sriracha deserves better than a spot on a list of bygone culinary trends. Here are some points to consider, lest you forget that this stuff is pretty much liquid gold.
1. It’s cheap
A couple bucks will buy you many months’ worth of fiery chili goodness–or a few weeks worth if that’s more your style (it’s mine).
2. It’s ubiquitous
Just try going to your average restaurant and asking for some horseradish paste. You would, and indeed should, be laughed out of the joint in no time… you foodie d-bag, you.
3. It’s a fetching shade of red
I want a dress in Sriracha red.
4. It makes lame food better instantly
Frozen pizza? Box mac and cheese? Slather that bad boy, then gently weep because you accidentally got too excited and used half the bottle. Hurts so good.
5. Tater tots with Sriracha ketchup are pretty compelling evidence in favor of a benevolent god
6. Though its dominant flavor note is obviously heat, Sriracha is far from one-note
It also imparts a hint of sweet chili goodness and a punch of garlic. Just try fighting vampires with horseradish. You can’t.
7. Doing a shot of Sriracha will impress your friends and strike fear in the hearts of your nemeses
This is not for the faint of heart. (Pro tip: the fun doesn’t really start until it hits your esophagus.)
8. Sriracha is even good with sweets
Try a bit on a chewy peanut butter cookie. Before you start to gag at the thought of it, let me point out that chili-peanut combinations are invariably fabulous. Give it a chance.
9. Pho without Sriracha is an affront to sense and decency
10. Sriracha is the great equalizer
I can’t think of any cuisine that wouldn’t benefit from a bit. Russian dumplings? Heck yes. Curries? Bring it on. German food? Bratwurst with Sriracha is a revelation. Italian? Add a squirt to tomato sauce in lieu of red pepper flakes for a brighter, fresher kick. Sriracha is one of the only condiments you can add to just about anything with impunity and only improve the situation–and that’s a quality that never goes out of style.