Shortage Be Damned, Here’s How to Make Your Own Sriracha at Home
Chef Kevin Tien shares a recipe for the famed Vietnamese sauce.
Slather it on your breakfast tacos, mix it with mayonnaise, drizzle it on a piping hot bowl of pho—there is nothing quite like Sriracha. The renowned red chili sauce can seemingly coalesce with any and all foods, so much so people carry around keychains of it in case of emergencies. There’s even a subreddit dedicated to it.
It’s understandable, then, that restaurants, chefs, and loyal fans of the iconic squeeze bottle sauce were in an uproar when it was announced that Huy Fong Foods, producer of the country’s most popular Sriracha sauce, planned to pull back production due to a severe shortage of quality chili peppers.
“It makes sense that [the shortage] is here,” says Kevin Tien, the James Beard-nominated chef behind contemporary Vietnamese restaurant Moon Rabbit in Washington DC. “There’s been a rise and more interest in Vietnamese food, so I feel like Sriracha is even more popular than before. It hits all the notes of a full palate—it has spice, acid from the vinegar, funkiness from the fermentation of the peppers, garlic, and a little bit of sweetness as well.”
Some establishments sought to fulfill their Sriracha void in unique ways, such as California-based Vietnamese street food restaurant Bé Ù, which traded banh mis for bottles of the stuff, and Catskills chain Bà & Me considered offering it on a request-only basis. Others, like Banh Mi & Bottles in Philadelphia, are pulling from their toolkits and experimenting with their own recipes. Tien has been making his own Sriracha from scratch and serving it at his restaurant for quite some time, so he was able to rest easy when the news of the shortage broke.
“It’s our variation on something that’s universally loved,” Tien says. “We put garlic and a little bit of ginger in there, and we do variations on different peppers, like using jalapeños to make a green Sriracha. One of our recipes has pineapple in it to add sweetness.”
Tien’s process begins with fermenting peppers in large buckets (he got his off of Amazon) for anywhere between one week to a month, keeping an eye on the peppers throughout. He then purees the mixture until it reaches its familiar paste-like consistency, and then it is ready to serve. The chef particularly likes to slather his housemade Sriracha on breakfast sandwiches and hashbrowns.
The recipe is constantly being perfected with new methods and fresh ingredients. Tien encourages people at home to do the same and customize their Sriracha to their liking, whether that means toning down the spice with red bell peppers or adding seeds and nuts to it.
“If you’re a thrill chaser, get a bunch of habaneros and do it,” Tien laughs. “And if you want less heat, you can use long red hots. It’s fun to do different combinations.”
Moon Rabbit’s Sriracha Recipe
• 1¼ pounds Fresno Mash (see below)
• 1¾ cup white vinegar
• 6½ tablespoons white sugar
• 3¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1. Blend everything in a Vitamix in batches.
2. Blend until everything is pureed well.
Fermented Fresno Mash
• 1 pound Fresno chilis, rough chopped
• 3¼ teaspoons garlic
• 2¼ ginger
• 2½ teaspoons salt (3% of total mash weight)
• 2½ teaspoons sugar (3% of total mash weight)
1. Food process all ingredients together until a rough chop forms from the fermented Fresno mash ingredients.
2. Place in a fermentation bucket and keep in a room temperature area and burp daily.
3. Once fermented to your liking, follow the sriracha recipe to create your very own sriracha.
4. You can play around and use different chilis, add pineapple and really have fun with this recipe. This is a standard we use here for the restaurant and you can deviate as much as you want to create your own line of hot sauces.
5. The only standard you should stick to is the salt and sugar percentages.