The Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens

By Clare Langan

As barbecue season approaches, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise may have some competition. The Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens elevates its namesake ingredient to star-level status.

Usually relegated a few drops over Asian fare or the occasional dorm-room cup of ramen, The Sriracha Cookbook lets the spicy-sweet flavor of this Asian chili sauce shine. Earning Bon Appetit’s ‘2010 Ingredient of the Year’ and loved by chefs and home cooks alike, Clemens offers 50 recipes featuring this Southeast-Asian condiment. Along with being a trained chef, Clemens is a clever and witty writer, serving up anecdotes with each recipe, including the origins of La Caridid, a cocktail devised on an inebriated dare.

From the zesty SriRANCHa Dressing (with a notable bacon variation) to Sriracha Kimchee and Peach-Sriracha Sorbet, the recipes are inspired and on-trend. While “In a Pinch Tips” are sprinkled throughout, the Piquant Pulled Pork is no Shoemaker effort. A spice rub, overnight brine and Sriracha-laced sauce coax pork butt into tender perfection. As if that wasn’t enough, Clemens’ “Over the Top Tip” suggests piling the pork on grilled Cheddar-Sriracha Swirl Bread and toping with Sriracha Slaw. Spice lovers, rejoice.

Clemens wrote the book after discovering Sriracha at a Vietnamese friend’s house, whose, “…mom made the most amazing fried rice on earth, and there was this bottle of hot sauce I’d never seen before sitting innocuously on the table. Nobody else was using it… nobody suggested I try it… but something about it called to me. I gave a light drizzle, and was hooked instantly.” What does Clemens think of Sriracha’s relatively recent popularity in mainstream culinaria? “It’s a staple in my kitchen, whether or not it’s a trend in someone else’s. Either way, it’s bringing somebody some combination of joy, comfort, pleasure, spice, and maybe even surprise. To me, that’s timeless.” The sauce is no trend, but here to stay.

The Sriracha Cookbook is an example of how one ingredient can change and inspire countless recipes. A mix of sound culinary advice and bar-stool banter, The Sriracha Cookbook is anything but boring.