Bonny Wolf is author of Talking with My Mouth Full and editor of NPR's Kitchen Window.
Millions of pounds of chicken wings will be eaten at Super Bowl parties across the country Sunday. A lot of them probably will be made with a spicy sauce that threatens to push ketchup off the shelf: Sriracha.
You've seen it — that clear plastic squeeze bottle with the burnt-orange chili-garlic sauce. It's the one with a rooster on the front and that bright green cap. There are other brands, but this is the one people usually mean when they talk about Sriracha.
Sriracha sauce first appeared 30 years ago in Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S., where diners would squirt a little into their pho, Vietnam's popular noodle soup.
Slowly — but very steadily — it moved into the mainstream. Now you don't have to go to an Asian market to find Sriracha. Just pick up a bottle at Walmart or Safeway. It's becoming a staple condiment in American homes, right next to the mustard and mayo.
Ketchup used to be the condiment of choice for Americans. Ronald Reagan wanted to classify it as a vegetable. Richard Nixon used to pour it on cottage cheese. Now many eaters substitute Sriracha for ketchup.
I've heard of Sriracha being put in oatmeal and used in Rice Krispies Treats. I've had it on scrambled eggs and sprinkled on popcorn — both of which I highly recommend. And I'm sure you remember the episode of Top Chef when Casey made Sriracha ice cream.
If you need inspiration, there's now The Sriracha Cookbook, with recipes for Sriracha and Spam fried rice, deviled eggs and, of course, chicken wings.
"There are those of us who love Sriracha, and then there are those of us who need Sriracha," author Randy Clemens says.
You can get your Sriracha fix at restaurants, too, from fancy New York hot spots to Applebee's.
The entrepreneur behind Sriracha is David Tran, who is ethnically Chinese but was born in Vietnam and now lives in California. Sriracha is actually a port town in Thailand known for its chili sauce. Still with me?
Tran came to the U.S. on a boat called Huy Fong, now the name of his company. The rooster on the bottle is his Chinese zodiac sign, and some people call it "rooster sauce." Sales continue to grow, according to the company.
I asked devotees, "Why this sauce?" To summarize their response, it's heat with flavor — perfect for chicken wings.
Deviled eggs seem to be a particular favorite of Sriracha lovers. This recipe is adapted from The Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens (Ten Speed Press, 2011). Clemens says the Sriracha gives the yolk a gorgeous orange hue.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
12 hard-cooked eggs
1/3 cup Sriracha mayonnaise (recipe below)
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and remove the yolks. Using a fork, break up the yolks in a mixing bowl. Stir in the Sriracha mayo, mustard, salt and pepper and blend well.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the yolk mixture back into the egg whites. Top with the chives.
Serve or cover and refrigerate.
Clemens swears this will become a staple in your refrigerator.
Makes about 1 cup
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Sriracha
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.