Sri-Hot-Cha Sauce ⁑

In the early 1980s, while living in the city of Arcadia, north-east of Los Angeles, I began to notice appearing on grocery store shelves red bottles with a green cap bearing a red rooster painted on the label and named “Sriracha”. The product was made in the nearby city of Rosemead by Huy Fong Foods. Since the 80’s, demand has grown to outpace its supply. By 2010 it had become so popular as to be named by Bon Apétit magazine the sauce ingredient of the year. The company expanded all it could in Rosemead to meet its growing demand, but finally relocated to Irwindale, CA to a larger facility in 2010.

The sauce’s recipe has not changed significantly since 1983. The bottle lists the ingredients “Chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum.” The Huy Fong Foods sauce is made from fresh red jalapeño chiles and contains no added water or artificial colors. Garlic powder is used rather than fresh.

I bought a bottle ’way back then and liked it so much that it claimed a continuous place on a shelf in my refrigerator until replaced by this recipe. The sauce is not expensive, but I wanted to see if I could make my own with a little less salt and no sugar. The recipe below is a little different in that it derives from chipotle, or smoked jalapeños and garlic paste, not powdered. It is remarkably good. I may never buy the real Sriracha again.

  • 1 8 oz can Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic purée
  • 1 tbsp <sugar>
  • 8 oz white vinegar
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum

Put all ingredients into a blender and buzz at the highest setting for 4 minutes to liquify completely. Pour into a 17 oz empty Sriracha bottle. Shake well before each use.

flavor shaker, or Rib Rub Roberto

Most barbecue rib rubs contain sugar—a no-no in the diabetic diet! And salt—bad for one trying to avoid it! To assure that I had one that did not, I made my own, patterned after my memories of one that I had tasted a few times and concocted by ex-Navy Seal and Barbecue Baron par excellence Ivan Krusic. I make mine with New Mexico chiles for piquancy. If you don’t find the Joe Parker chile variety in your supermarket, you may drive down NM Highway 28 to a little chile stand in La Mesilla named the Ristra Man Chile Co. It carries many many varieties of New Mexico ground and whole chiles. Or you can substitute something more locally available, such as pasilla, ancho, or California ground red chile. If you have patience, you can go through all the varieties listed in the Pendery’s catalog until you find one you like. You might try aji panca from Peru or the more robust, full chile-flavored bull canyon. Besides being good on dry-roasted barbecued pork, chicken, or beef, it is also good when sprinkled on scrambled eggs or added to almost any dish you want to spice up.

  • 3 tbsp New Mexico ground red chile powder
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tbsp Joe Parker ground chile powder, or pasilla, ancho, or other mild red chile powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 4 tbsp ground paprika, smoky if you can find it
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ground cayenne chile
  • 1 tbsp ground sage
  • 1 tbsp ground thyme
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel powder
  • 3 tbsp <salt>

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until uniformly mixed together. Apply to pork, chicken, or beef generously and bake at low heat for several hours (less heat, more hours) until done. To use as a flavor shaker, put in an attractive shaker bottle so you can keep it on the table for targets of opportunity.