After a slow burn over the past year, it seems that Sriracha is having a serious moment to ring in 2014.
This spicy Asian chili condiment exploded on menus nationwide over the past 12 months, even spawning a “Hunger Games”-themed Subway sandwich line.
The sauce only heated up more when news hit that Huy Fong, the company that makes the top-selling brand was being forced to stop production, after complaints from townspeople that the factory’s smell was making their throat and eyes burn.
People were up in arms that they might not have access to the beloved hot sauce, and recipes cropped up online detailing how to make an at-home version. Luckily, though, the sauce is still readily available on Amazon and a Huy Fong spokesperson told ABC News that they plan to resume shipments at the end of the month.
This happening just as the dip is finding its way into mainstream places it’s never been before, incuding candy canes and vodka, and celebrity chefs including David Chang and Andrew Zimmern are calling out the condiment as one of 2014′s top trends. It certainly seems that Sriracha is here to stay.
Dale Talde, chef/owner of Asian-leaning restaurants Talde, Pork Slope and Thistle Hill Tavern in New York City and former “Top Chef” contestant, has long been a Sriracha advocate, eating the condiment his entire life and cooking with it for at least 10 years.
“Heat in general to Asian food is unbelievably important. So I think it’s just become that avenue of heat, a way to get it,” Talde said. “As far as saying it’s the most important, no. It’s more the idea of heat in general, but it’s gotten into people’s heads that, ‘This is the best.’”
The condiment is a fermented blend of red jalapeño peppers, sugar, salt, garlic, and vinegar, and is thicker than your average American-style hot sauce.
Talde points to the sauce’s complexity as a reason for its popularity. “It’s got more going on than other hot sauces, which are just vinegar and heat,” he explained. “The chilies are fermented and it already has garlic in it.”
While Talde and Chang sing the sauce’s praises, others don’t seem to get the craze. Zimmern told “People” that he thought the sauce was “the most overrated item of the last 20 years,” while also declaring it a top trend of the upcoming year.
“He’s probably right,” Talde said in response. “It’s because people are trendy. People get it in their heads that this is mandatory. It’s the hot new thing and they gotta have it. It’s always something. Of course it’s overrated — it’s like bacon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Bacon was the last hot ingredient, and now they’re trying to sell us on something else. He’s right and we’re all followers.”
Sriracha, though, like bacon, seems to be something no one minds following for now.