BusinessWeek story on Sriracha and its creator, David Tran. I knew about Sriracha long before Oatmeal made it cool, and even from my youth, Huy Fong chili-garlic sauce (or Lee Kum Kee) was a staple condiment for any meal of broiled chicken. Tran’s route to spicy fame is a classic immigrant culinary success story, but this passage in particular jumped out at me:

Seated, Tran and Lam order pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup. Then they squeeze a small amount of sriracha onto a plate beside their bowls. When I squirt a much larger amount of Huy Fong’s sauce directly into my soup, Tran’s eyes open wide. “I’ve never seen it that way,” he says.

I grew up Asian and to me the condiment was always a dipping sauce, not an extra ingredient. On the other hand, these days the pho restaurants where we eat never give us little side sauce dishes, so straight into the soup the Sriracha goes.

Sriracha is actually a fairly mild chili sauce that I would rate as “entry-level,” coming in at about 2,200 Scoville Units. When I want some real heat I usually go with Thai nam pla prik, or siling labuyo at patis in Filipino.

Sili at Patis

That’s rated at 50,000-100,000 Scoville units, and I’m already getting numb to that. I think habaneros may be the next step.