Randy Clemens is a genius. He monopolized on the culinary zeitgeist that is "Rooster Sauce," put his culinary training to good use, and cranked out a great little cookbook with The Sriracha Cookbook. Surely you are familiar with the clear plastic bottle filled with red sauce and capped with a green squeeze cap? It's technically called Tuong Ot Sriracha, but everyone calls it rooster sauce because the bottle sports a drawing of a rooster on it. OK, some people call it "cock sauce" too.
The story about Huy Fong Foods, its famous Sriracha sauce, and founder David Tran is now well-known thanks to a recent article in The New York Times. Tran, an immigrant from Vietnam, started his company in Southern California in the 1980s to bring the flavors of his Chinese heritage and Vietnamese roots, plus a dash of Thai inspiration, to the Asian community in the U.S. He labeled the bottle with a rooster, the Chinese zodiac symbol for the year he was born, and named his company after the freighter that brought him to America. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today Sriracha can be found in every pho shop and noodle joint, and most sandwich and pizza shops. And for about $4, you can pick up a bottle at just about any supermarket to add some kick to your scrambled eggs or Top Ramen. Sriracha today is what Heinz 57 was 20 years ago. It's ketchup . . . with a kick.
It's the kick of Sriracha that Clemens has masterfully worked into 50 recipes for comfort foods and snack food staples like deviled eggs, mac & cheese, chili, and grits. He's no slouch, though--there are recipes for Sriracha pesto, Sriracha swirl bread, Thai Chicken Coconut Soup, and Sesame-Sriracha Crusted Ahi Tuna, among others. There's even a recipe for making your own Sriracha-style chili sauce that Clemens admits to creating for "that cool sense of pride that comes with the DIY approach that money just can't buy."
Throughout this compact book are mouth-watering photos, sidebars with tips, shortcuts, and information about ingredients like fish sauce and SPAM. Recipes are dead simple, with easy-to-find ingredients and clear instructions. This book, plus a bottle of rooster sauce, would make the perfect gift for any home cook that likes a lot of spice, without a lot of hassle.
Check back tomorrow for Part II of Cooking the Books and a recipe from The Sriracha Cookbook.