Thursday, May 16, 2013

Update on the Sriracha Smackdown

Update: See our results for Round 1 and Round 2! The post below tells the story of how we came by these many srirachas, and some additional facts about them.

For those of you that missed a beat, we have decided to put The Rooster and Huy Fong foods to the test.

Here is an update of our srirachas to date:

Srirach Name Origin Status Tested
Huy Fong US Obtained, duh! Round 1 and Round 2
Caravelle Thailand Obtained Round 1
"Shark Brand" Mild Thailand Obtained Round 1
"Shark Brand" Hot Thailand Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
Grand Mountain Thailand Obtained Round 1
Green Mountain Thailand Obtained Round 1
Green Mountain "Strong" Thailand Obtained Round 1
Trader Joe's US Obtained Round 1
"Flying Goose" Thailand Obtained Round 1
"Crying Tiger" Thailand Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
"Pain is Good" US Ordered Round 2
Lee Kum Kee US Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
HT Traders US Obtained Round 1
Roland China Obtained Round 1
Yuzu Pao Japan Obtained Round 2
Oxygen Amazon Colombia Obtained Round 2
ABC Indonesia Obtained Round 1
Sriraja Panich Thailand Obtained Round 1
Sky Valley US Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
T-racha Awesome Sauce US Obtained Round 2
Aroy-D Thailand Obtained Round 1
Uncle Chen US Obtained Round 1
Dark Star sriracha US Obtained Round 2
Homemade My House In the works Round 2

Update as of 6/29/2013

Four more srirachas have been obtained for Round 2!

Our friend Oz (and future remote judge for Round 2) came through and obtained a bottle of the very-limited T-racha Awesome Sauce from Saigon Sisters in Chicago. Not only is this bottle limited, but it's tiny enough to fit in my purse, or pocket even. Since it sold out last time, even with such a small production, I hope Saigon Sisters can get their act together and increase production should this sauce be in more demand. A tiny bottle for 8 bucks (and which can only be purchased at their restaurant or one store in Chicago) is no way to run a business. This stuff better be good.

Dark Star was a cool find from a smallish Ohio hot sauce company, and can be purchased here or on amazon. This brand has balsalmic vinegar, which is very unique, but will it ruin the character of a sriracha (whatever that means)? They don't leave much in the way of ingredient details ("herbs" and "spices"). Love the instructions ("shake well. use often"). No preservatives in this one.

There really isn't much information on "Amazon" sriracha from Oxygen Imports. Oxygen Imports is mainly a kosher food supplier, but is the exclusive carrier of Amazon hot sauces, products of Colombia. And our first South American brand! First ingredient is cayenne pepper, which would make this potentially similar to Sky Valley; however, this brand does contain preservatives. But it's kosher!

Yuzu Pao was another interesting find from Japan. The only sriracha made with yuzu (including both zest and juice) an Asian citrus which looks like a small grapefruit and probably tastes like a tart mandarin. If you've ever had authentic ponzu sauce, it likely contained yuzu. Apparently this is a key foodie-hipster ingredient, so we're in.

But this brings up an interesting debate - we now have two srirachas with non-common ingredients (vinegar and citrus). Yuzu Pao is "sriracha style" - what makes something sriracha style versus actual sriracha? What is authentic sriracha (is that Sriraja Panich?) and have Americans re-defined it with Huy Fong? Another post for another day...

Update as of 6/16/2013

The results of Round 1 have been posted. However, we are going in for more! Get ready for Round 2!

Update as of 6/5/2013

Ok patient readers, this is finally happening tomorrow (June 6th)! No more dilly dallying. We don't have all of the srirachas, but this train need to leave the station. Besides of which, all of these tasty sriracha bottles are staring at me imploringly from my kitchen counter. Makes my mouth water every time I walk in.

And in even better news, we now have Flying Goose! We are now topped at 18 srirachas.

Did you know that Flying Goose comes in a variety of flavors? They also sell garlic, lemongrass, ginger, sour, onion, and...galanga? (Galanga root is in the ginger family and is commonly used in Indonesian and Thai cooking. I've seen it at the store but never had the stones to try it, but maybe that needs to change). We kept it simple - and also because shipping these from Europe was a pretty penny. But if any readers are from Europe or elsewhere, where the other flavors are sold on the cheap, be sure to try them and let us know how they are! More about Flying Goose at the bottom of this blog post.

Update as of 6/1/2013

Well we are close to the end. Sadly, I don't think Flying Goose is going to happen. A few others got lost in the mail. T-racha awesome sauce is out of stock - in fact, apparently they are out of chili peppers! So we'll have to deal with what we've got. Maybe we'll need a round 2.

In another sad turn of events, today was going to be the day, but one of our judges developed food poisoning, so it is postponed until further notice. I'm sure spoonfuls of fire won't help.

But in some good news, we found 2 additional contestants right here at the Ranch 99 Supermarket. I think this place has KP beat on noodle and BBQ pork bun selection. They also had a giant thing of Kewpie mayo which I snagged. Although far less Korean products that KP (there is no aisle entirely dedicated to Korean sauces).

Aroy-D is another Thai brand, and carries the green cap. They are a fairly large producer of asian products and are best known for their coconut milk. It also seems to be a popular name for Thai restaurants. Although I'm not too excited about this one as this is our first sriracha with MSG. We might have to add a health category to our ratings.

Uncle Chen was an interesting find, seems that some other brave souls seeking to do a sriracha taste test have compared this brand, including these guys, and these guys. Bottle is definitely cutesy. First gold cap. Only thing I could dig up about the company was a recall on their products back in 2009, but I'll let that go. Also quite a few preservatives, but no MSG thankfully.

Update as of 5/28/2013

Flying Goose is taking it's sweet tail-feathery time. In the mean time, Crying Tiger and Three Mountains have arrived!

I think Crying Tiger wins for sauce names. I really can't find much on this sauce, except that it popped up in comments on some Food Beast whine-fest about counterfeit srirachas (don't get me wrong, I love Food Beast and Food Republic, but they always give the rooster way too much credit).

And yes, the middle sriracha is actually yellow (it's "strong"). Which means we are definitely going to need blind folds on this contest. We found this one on a google search journey through eBay. Again, no information out there on Three Mountains that we could find. New territory!

Update as of 5/27/2013

Our order finally came in! Ok, well, it came in two days ago, but we've been pretty busy with Memorial Day weekend activities. I originally wasn't going to consider srirachas that didn't say "sriracha" on the bottle such as the ABC "extra pedas" hot chili sauce, but this came at the personal recommendation of Brian Meagher at Hot Sauce Daily, and had all of the ingredients that make up a sriracha sauce. He knows his hot sauce stuff. We'll let this one in for now, but it is a can of worms as there are many sauces that have sriracha-eligible ingredients, but don't call themselves as such.

ABC sauce is actually owned by Heinz, and they are known for their soy sauces (they claim to be the second largest-selling soy sauce brand in the world - they also make a sweet soy or "Kecap Manis" which I'm sure is worth a try.

Sriraja Panich is getting a lot of attention lately. Bon Appetit says it's the "original Thai version" although I'm not sure about the accuracy of that claim since there are many brands from Thailand. I'm no srirachistorian though. A Q&A with Eastland Food, the sole distributor, indicated that this was created over 80 years ago. You can read more from BA here.

Update as of 5/25/2013

Ok folks, I've quickly realized that there are numerous srirachas out there, but I have no clue as to whether they'll be any good. And they will need to be good to take down the rooster. I open this list up to you, kind readers, that you might suggest the best or suggest awesome srirachas that we missed. If you do suggest, please let us know how we can get them in the next week or so. There are many srirachas that we can't find online, or that won't let me buy a single bottle. Looking for bottles that will come in at less than 10 dollars shipped.

Update as of 5/24/2013

HT Traders came in today. Brian Meagher from Hot Sauce Daily lent us a helping hand by sending us the Harris Teeter brand. Harris Teeter stores are only found between Delaware and South Carolina. Thanks Brian! Should be interesting, they used pickled chilis! Brian does some great sriracha comparisons that you can use to occupy your time while we wait for the rest to come in. Brian is an expert at judging all things hot! So be sure to check out his page.

As you can see, we also picked up some Lee Kum Kee. The Whole Foods here in Folsom only carries Lee Kum Kee and Sky Valley for some reason. Judging by the preliminary results from our friend Oz, this should be a good contender. Check out other stuff on his You Tube channel; he also gives great Excel tips! What do I like more than sriracha? Excel, of course! Go Oz!

Update as of 5/21/213

Roland came in today! This one is made in China. Another Dragon Sauce. Can't they all just like get together and have an international expo or something and pick different mascots? That would be pretty darn cool. They can call it SrirachaCon!

Color and texture in the bottle are looking pretty similar to Trader Joe's. Waiting on Lee Kum Kee, Flying Goose, and a few others. On that note, if anyone knows how we can obtain Saigon Sisters "T-racha Awesome Sauce" (based out of Chicago), please let us know, we will send you a check.  Oh and look, there already is a Hot Sauce Expo. Need to plan our trip...

Update as of 5/19/2013

Well, we are still gathering the sriracha contestants. Took a trip to the KP Korean market here in Rancho Cordova to check to out the selection (sorry, "International Market", it features foods from around the world, plus serving the large Ukrainian and Mexican communities). They conveniently located all of the sriracha in one aisle, to which to me looked like a majority of Thai sauces (although rooster was proudly displayed - and not just in the Thai aisle, but also in the Ukrainian and Mexican aisles - go figure. None to be found in the Korean aisle).  This place is incredible though, and on a side note, got me very inspired to branch out to probably hundreds of different hot sauces. Another post for another day...

Update as of 5/18/2013

We are still tracking down the remaining sauces - Flying Goose, Unicorn (the one most despised as a "counterfeit" here in the US), Sky Valley, "Pain is Good" Sriracha Pepper Sauce, Roland, Kame, and Lee Kum Kee brands.

We were first alerted to the Flying Goose while in Belgium back in October of 2012 - we stopped at a cute little restaurant in Bruges name Stoepa, waiting for the train back to Liege, and spotted this perplexing awesomeness on our table. First thought - Belgians know how to eat! Second thought - Flying Goose? Apparently this is the brand that supplies Europe with their sriracha fix. We kindly asked our server at Stoepa what this was all about, and he exclaimed that this was the new up-and-coming condiment of choice for Belgians. What better sauce to pair with your Belgian Frites?

If you have any other suggestions for competitors, speak up! This is going to be a great contest, folks, can't wait!


  1. Look at the lonely bottle of Rooster sauce half full. Though I suppose half full means the rooster sauce gets all of the attention in the Kitchen, so its not that lonely.

  2. Trader joe's stuff is mostly repacked in the U.S. Hey, trader joe, don't tell me your hot sauce is imported from China...

    1. You're right that the bottle only indicates where it was re-packed - good catch! However, according to their website, it appears that the chilies are from California. Some of the other bottles here may be guesses if they don't have the "product of" label.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out! I'm looking forward to the smackdown results. Meanwhile, I've been asked to compare the rooster against my favorites. That will be coming soon.

  4. I'll be downtown again this week and will check for the T-racha.

    1. Thanks Oz for all of your continued support and patience! Can't believe I couldn't get the results up before I left town, but better late than never. Would have loved to try T-racha against the stack - thanks as always for checking it out. Maybe for round 2. Which would also include Dark Star, Amazon Oxygen, Yuzu Pao, Pain is Good, etc (maybe against the top 5).