Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Chili Sauce to Crow About

Source: NY Times

AFTER-HOURS calls to Huy Fong Foods, here in the suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, are intercepted by an answering machine. One recent day, 14 messages were blinking when Donna Lam, the operations manager, hit “play.”

A woman told of smearing Huy Fong’s flagship product, Tuong Ot Sriracha (Sriracha Chili Sauce), on multigrain snack chips. A man proclaimed the purée of fresh red jalapeños, garlic powder, sugar, salt and vinegar to be “the bomb,” and thanked Ms. Lam’s employers for “much joy and pleasure.”

Another caller, hampered by a slight slur, botched the pronunciation of the product name before asking whether discount pricing might be available. Finally, he blurted, “I love rooster sauce!” (A strutting rooster, gleaming white against a backdrop of the bright red sauce, dominates Huy Fong’s trademark green-capped clear plastic squeeze bottles.)

“I guess it goes with alcohol,” deadpanned Ms. Lam, who, like David Tran, the 64-year-old founder of Huy Fong and creator of its sauce, is both proud of the product’s popularity and flummoxed by fans’ devotion.

The lure of Asian authenticity is part of the appeal. Some American consumers believe sriracha (properly pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) to be a Thai sauce. Others think it is Vietnamese. The truth is that sriracha, as manufactured by Huy Fong Foods, may be best understood as an American sauce, a polyglot purée with roots in different places and peoples.


I don't like hot sauce that much and I can take a little dab in a bowl of PHO. So there's always a bottle of Sriracha in my fridge :)


WordsnCollision said...

Sriracha "Rooster" sauce is THE best, obligatory with Pho fer sure. If you've got a bottle at home (as I do), keep it topped up - air in the bottle oxidizes the sauce causing it to lose its fiery vermillion hue.

sc said...

I think in Chinese, the company name has the same pronunciation with HSBC bank.

Degenerasian said...

With air in the bottle doesn't it become watery?

I like the fiery hue, just a drop or two for me is enough :)