In the last two decades, Sriracha Chili Sauce, aka “Rooster Sauce” or “Cock Sauce”, for the rooster on the label, has gone from a niche product in Vietnamese restaurants to one of America’s favorite condiments, with Facebook Pages dedicated to them, cookbooks based on them, and cartoons praising them. It has even become a popular Halloween costume!
It is far from the spiciest sauce on the market, which probably contributes to its mass popularity, ranking just below standard Tabasco Sauce in the scoville heat ratings, according to Scott Roberts’ Scoville Chart for sauces and chiles, and about half the heat of a jalapeno (comparable to an Anaheim chile). But the flavor is bright, and not vinegary like Tabasco. I use it in many Asian dishes (especially pho, for which it was originally designed), and also enjoy it on pizza, eggs, and other meals that need a little kick. Unlike some enthusiasts, I don’t put it on everything, and still keep Mexican hot sauces, habanero sauces, Louisiana-style hot sauces, and at least one habanero sauce on hand at all times to make sure my heat matches the meat!
Despite my fondness for the sauce as a condiment, I’ve only tried two sriracha-based meals. One was a Sriracha-glazed grilled chicken, based on a recipe from Slender Kitchen, which was very good, but I thought was actually a little too light on the Sriracha (write-up coming soon!), and the other was a recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine that was recommended to me by my favorite foodie co-worker, whose husband had made these for her–she may be the only woman I know more spoiled by her husband’s cooking than my wife… ;-D
The Bon Appetit recipe for “Sambal Chicken Skewers” was outstanding! The heat was perfect, and the bright flavors of Sriracha Chile Sauce shined right through! This particular recipe was for skewers, but it could easily be done with any cut of chicken (boneless thighs, drumsticks, wings, breasts, etc.), any of which would be less work than cutting the chicken into bite sized pieces and threading it on skewers, but you would lose a bit of the flavor, as the percentage of the chicken bite will have less glaze/flavor than the skewer version does. My guess is it will be phenomenal on wings or boneless thighs, and it may be worth the time and effort savings, and the flavor is almost certainly able to shine through even on whole pieces.
The only thing I did differently is to marinate the chicken in the sauce for an hour, before threading it on the skewers. My only caution in grilling chicken in this recipe, is that the sauce does contain sugar (though no more than a standard store-bought bbq sauce), so be careful to keep the heat on the chicken low, or it will caramelize/burn very quickly. As a skewer, it will also cook very quickly, so keep a close eye on it, regardless.
But the end result is a great, moderately spicy grilled chicken that goes well with rice (either a standard Jasmine or white rice, or our easy coconut rice) and any number of Asian vegetables (e.g our Asian Grilled Asparagus, Sesame Steamed Squash, or Thai Green Beans), and it held up equally well as leftovers at work the next day!
- 1.5 Lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized (1½ to 2 inch) pieces
- ½ Cup brown sugar
- ½ Cup rice vinegar
- ⅓ Cup hot chili paste (we used sambal oelek--available in Asian section of most good grocery stores, at least in California)
- ¼ Cup fish sauce (also available in Asian section of most decent grocery stores)
- ¼ Cup Sriracha
- 2 Tsp finely grated peeled ginger (we used jarred, grated ginger)
- Mix brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl.
- Add chicken and toss to coat.
- Let marinate for an hour or more.
- Thread pieces of chicken on a skewer (if using wooden skewers, be sure to soak for at least an hour first).
- Boil remaining marinade at a low simmer for at least ten minutes, to kill bacteria, and reduce it to a thicker sauce for brushing on chicken.
- Grill chicken skewers on medium to medium low heat, turning regularly, brushing with reduced sauce as you grill, being careful not to scorch the meat.
- When all sides are cooked, remove from grill and serve!