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SCMP reporter Patrick Blennerhassett puts some Sriracha hot sauce on his chicken wings at Nha Trang restaurant, Times Square, Hong Kong. Photo: Antony Dickson

Eat Drink Asia: The Sriracha story – an American-made hot sauce with Thai roots

  • How a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee built an empire on a spicy sauce

More than 45 million kilograms (100 million pounds) of jalapeños are ground up each year to produce Huy Fong Foods’ legendary Sriracha hot sauce, lauded for its spicy kick, vinegary tang and garlicky aftertaste.

Recognised the world over for the white rooster that stands proudly on its label, this ubiquitous sauce, which first tantalised taste buds in 1980, has developed somewhat of a cult foodie following.

From fans getting tattoos of the bottle and personalising car number plates after it, to astronauts on the International Space Station taking it into orbit, never has there been a condiment with such a loyal fan base. Heatseekers are known to add it to almost any dish – drizzling it on pizza and sushi; mixing it into bowls of pasta or pho.

In this episode, we spoke with Titima Runguphan, founder of the Thai Culture Association of Hong Kong; Griffin Hammond, filmmaker of Sriracha (a documentary); and David Tran, the owner of the legendary rooster sauce, to follow the winding journey of the world-famous sauce – and find out why you’re probably saying it wrong.