Seasonings Beyond Sriracha
More Spicy Flavors & Sauces for Restaurants To Consider
Sriracha is everywhere you look. You can find the tangy chili sauce on menus at mom-and-pop eateries as well as major chains like Red Lobster and Taco Bell. From sriracha-infused lollipops and ice cream to a vegan banh mi topped with sriracha aioli, it’s on menus from coast to coast. While that may seem like oversaturation, it’s clear that diners enjoy a little spice during suppertime (and also breakfast and lunch). But is it possible that a saucier new savior is on the way?
Momofuku Noodle Bar’s David Chang believes that a sauce he’s been using since the inception of his first New York restaurant is up next. The Korean-inspired Ssäm Sauce by Momofuku is made with traditional gochujang, which is a spicy, umami-rich seasoning. For now, it’s only available at Chang’s restaurants, which also include Ssäm Bar and Má Pêche, but he’s in the process of bottling it for retail sale.
“It improves pizza, French fries, rice, ramen, juicy rucy's, chicken & dumplings, spicy fried chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, chicken nuggets, chicken rings, hamburgers, kale, quinoa, beet salads and pork buns,” Chang posted on Instagram in January 2015. “It even makes sriracha (taste) better.”
Many of the sauces chefs claim to contain that special oomph to take their dishes to the next level boast ethnic origins. Here are some on the hot list:
Used in North African and Mediterranean cooking, the hot chili pepper paste contains roasted red peppers, Serrano peppers, olive oil, caraway, garlic paste and coriander seeds. It’s used in mostly vegetarian dishes, but also chicken entrees and desserts.
Jamaican Jerk Spice
The West Indies sauce and rub can be traced back to pre-slavery days in West Africa. It was originally used to tenderize wild game like goat, but restaurants are now using it on chicken, seafood, lamb and even tofu. Its main ingredients: allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers.
A staple in Malaysian and Thai cooking, the sauce is made from a number of chili peppers, plus shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, shallots, rice vinegar and ginger. It’s used to season seafood, fried chicken, grilled fish and rice dishes.
Mazi Piri Piri
The authentic Portuguese hot sauce is hand-made in small batches and produced by Bon Jovi’s former manager Peter Mantas. For optimum flavor, it’s best used as a marinade on chicken, fish and beef. Mantas’ contains whiskey, local garlic and sun-dried piri-piris that he grows himself, which explains why he only makes 100 batches at a time.
Secret Aardvark Drunken Garlic Black Bean Sauce
Found on the tables of more than 100 restaurants in Portland, Ore., Secret Aardvark sauces have gained somewhat of a cult following on the Northwest Coast. The Chinese-focused black bean sauce contains Southern whiskey (thus, drunken), spices, garlic and works well as a marinade or in stir-fry dishes.
Latin-focused restaurants are discovering the wonders of Valentina, a hot sauce from Guadalajara, Mexico. It comes in hot — and extra hot — and contains chili peppers, salt, vinegar and spices. Its citrusy accents make it ideal for use on fruits and vegetables.