One might argue that the proliferation of the hot sauce industry began once heat seeking chiliheads across America embraced “sriracha” en masse. He wouldn’t be mistaken. Sriracha gets its name from the coastal town in Thailand, Si Racha, located on the Bay of Bangkok, and owes its international cult-like status to the determined efforts of one man, David Tran, founder of Huy Fong Foods.
Mr. Tran’s hot sauce journey is an epic tale of survival and hard work — from a Vietnam War refugee seeking asylum to becoming the most successful hot sauce entrepreneur the world has ever known. Insight into his fiery resolve was ignited when challenged on the heat-level of his infamous sauce: “Hot sauce must be hot. If you don’t like it hot, use less. We don’t make mayonnaise here.”* David Tran brought his heat ‘n’ soul to America, and then gave it to the entire world.
As a little kid growing up on the West Bank of New Orleans in the early 1980’s, I had many Vietnamese friends. Being so young, I was completely unaware of the circumstances that brought them to my elementary school classrooms. Their families had fled Vietnam and settled in the newer, suburban parts of the New Orleans — particularly in New Orleans East, Algiers (where I grew up) and other places on the West Bank. Many of them opened small businesses such as restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores — adding to the New Orleans lexicon of spicy, melting pot cuisine.
As of 2021, sriracha is well-established as a staple condiment for pairing with everything from pizza to popcorn... opening the door for other hot sauce entrepreneurs, like myself, to experiment with an aromatic medley of international flavors.
Bayou Gotham is a microcosm of my continuous state of being in two places at the same time. It’s fearless ambition met with a laissez faire attitude. It’s a welcome embrace to change with an openness toward diversity, while simultaneously a homage to very specific cultures and cuisines. It’s what makes us all the same while individually unique. A lot of blood has been shed to get us where we are today, yet our taste buds always come out on the winning end. There’s some food for thought.
Scotty Peppers’ Homemade Sriracha RecipeDisclaimer: This recipe is 3x’s hotter than typical sriracha. For a milder sauce, use red jalapeños or red Fresno peppers only... or like Mr. Tran says, “If you don’t like it hot, use less.”
· Thai bird chilis (560g)
· Distilled white vinegar (480g)
· Fresno peppers (280g)
· Water (280g)
· Yellow Onion (250g)
· Red wine vinegar (240g)
· Chinese rice vinegar (240g)
· Garlic (100g)
· Granulated Cane Syrup (80g)
· Sea Salt (50g)
· Sesame Oil (45g)
· Fresh lime juice (40g)
· Fish sauce (35g)
· Ginger (25g)
· Paprika (15g)
Blend all ingredients on high for 5 minutes, then transfer to stove pot / kettle.
Bring to a boil, then cook at 185° (20 minutes) to desired consistency.
Check pH level to be sure it is 4.0 or below.
Strain liquid into large glass container, then return 200g of leftover seeds / byproduct to the liquid and mix. Discard the remaining byproduct.
Fill into sterilized clean, 5oz. woozy glass containers at 190°F or higher, seal and invert.
*Credit: Hot Sauce Nation: America’s Burning Obsession by Denver Nicks