Monday, February 7, 2011

Sriracha Redux and More Thai Hot Sauces

Some time back I did a review of Huy Fong Sriracha, which is an American Sriracha that a lot of people are in love with, not including me, although I did like some things about it -- the upshot was I found it to have a bitter finish and aftertaste. So I tried another bottle from another source -- same result. But I did like the Thai brand I tried, the Shark Brand Sriracha, which is labeled on the bottle as Sriracha Chili Sauce. So I became curious to try some other actual Thai products to see what I would think.

I purchased online a number of products, including Bells and Flower Brand Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce made in China, Lingham's Hot Sauce, which says Thai right on the label and is made in Maylasia, Pantai Norasingh Sweetened Chili Sauce for Spring Roll which is made in Thailand, ABC Tropical Chili Sauce, which is labeled Product of Indonesia, and Gold Label Brand Red Chili Sauce, made in Thailand, Eastern Thailand to be exact, Amphur Muang, Chonburi province. Says so right on the label. I have included links below.

First, let me say that while there is an overall similarity to the products -- they are, after all, sweetened chili sauces with vinegar and salt and sometimes a few other things, too -- but  there are differences as well, and enough differences to make me prefer some quite a bit to the others. Also, I have to acknowledge that these products are not intended all to be used the same way, so to compare them directly may not be entirely fair.

I don't care.

I just wanted to see what they tasted like and which ones were worth keeping around. The odd sauce out is the Sweetened Chili Sauce For Spring Roll, it's thick and orange-clear, with carrot bits, and other suspended bits, just what you would expect to see in your dipping sauce bowl at a Thai restaurant. But the others are roughly comparable.

Let's get the orphan out of the way, the dipping sauce. The Pantai Norasingh Sweetened Chili Sauce. I like saying that. Pantai Norasingh! As I mentioned, it isn't intended as a general purpose hot-sweet flavoring, and it is very sweet, and not very hot, but it has a nice overall flavor, and I managed to make some really good Hot Wing Sauce with it, by adding salted butter and a little (a lot) more hot sauce. Because it is so sweet and has just a little heat, it will not be too useful without modification. Hey, it really is a spring roll dipping sauce! If you can think of something else to do with it, let me know! Recommended in a very narrow application. This company makes Sriracha, too, but not for export to the US, I guess, since I cannot find it for sale here -- if I liked it I could buy it in 5 liter jugs in a 4 pack, 20 liters and about 45 lbs -- it's listed right on the web site.

I was disappointed in the Bells and Flower Brand Sriracha -- it has just a tiny bit of sweetness, a little sour and salt, some pepper and heat, with a mild peppery finish, but no real big ripe pepper flavor like Huy Fong, or even a nice sweet-sour-salt balance like the Shark Brand Sriracha, which among Srirachas I have tried remains my favorite. Saltiness is the predominant flavor with Bells and Flower Brand. followed by some heat and sour flavor. Not recommended. Sigh.

Now Lingham's I do like. Actually, there are a lot of Lingham's hot sauces, those for SE Asian consumption -- I'd like to get my hands on those -- some for the UK, and those for us in the US of A.

The one I tried is #5 on the list above in the picture. It is sweet and fruity, with a thick pepper flake texture, and just a touch of salt, not much, with a good chili heat, not too strong, and a finish that combines some sweetness with a lingering mild heat. I do like it. It's too sweet for a lot of the foods I eat -- can't put it on eggs -- and the fruitiness may not be what you want a lot of the time, but once again it makes a good Hot Wing Sauce with more Hot Sauce and some butter. Certainly it's good with many Asian Foods. It is sweeter than Huy Fong Sriracha, for instance. It's good on a burger in place of ketchup. Recommended.

I like the look of the Gold Label Brand Red Chili Sauce bottle. The yellow chili sauce I didn't try is on the right above. And I like the Ingredient List:  Red Chili 70%, Garlic 10%, Sugar 8%, Vinegar 7%, Salt 5%. What I like most is the 70% Chili part. I wish it tasted more like 70% Chilis though, and it's a little too sweet. There is some heat. It's like a simple ketchup without the more complex ketchup flavors but just a little hot and salty. I'll pass on recommending it, though.

ABC Tropical Chili Sauce is the thickest and hottest of this bunch and in an ironically classically ketchup-like bottle, since the ABC Brand is owned by Heinz, even though it is an Indonesian brand. That said, the initial flavor is hot, sweet and a tiny bit salty and the finish is sweet, fading to a steady heat. I like it. It made a good mix with Hellman's mayo for a nice Aioli which I spiced up even further with garlic, lemon, and dare I say it, more Hot Sauce. It's the most like the Huy Fong Sriracha, but a little sweeter, maybe a little hotter, and, sadly without the bold bright ripe jalapeno flavor. Still good chili taste, though. You could make a good wing sauce with it. Also good on a burger in a place of, or in addition to, ketchup. Recommended

All right, let's sum this up, by the Western standards of this writer and most of the readers, these are interesting, but peculiar sauces with limited application in non-asian cuisine. There, I've said it. Oh, there are some good uses for the better sauces here, but I do not think we'll have Norte-Americanos slathering them on everything they eat, as some claim to do with Huy Fong "Rooster" Brand Sriracha.

I do wonder how people get by the bitter finish of that stuff.

And after having tried 3 different brands of Sriracha, is it now clear what it is? Well, all 3 are fairly different from each other, What they have in common is thickness, a little saltiness, some heat, a little garlic, and listing a principal ingredient of pepper. 2 are sweet, 1 has a bright ripe pepper flavor, 2 are much more muted. The other "Chili" sauces reviewed here follow a similar pattern. I know there are other brands as well of Sriracha, and I will try them as time and discovery permit.

Meantime, this farang (Thai word for foreigner) has a recipe for home made Sriracha that combines the best things I like about Sriracha -- with no bitterness -- and that sweet and bright, ripe pepper flavor in a sauce you can make, too. It's not that hard. There will even be a Sriracha Quick version for those who do not want to spend a lot of time at it, and a Sriracha Aged VS for those who are willing to commit a little refrigerator space and and a few weeks of aging for ... the Bomb Sriracha! How hard can it be, really?

Yours in Heat and Flavor,



  1. re: Lingham's Thai Sauce ... did you know that lingham is Sanskrit for penis? lol

  2. Actually I ran into that in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom". They were chasing after some long, phallic stones for part of the movie -- they were called "lingams". I am not sure what the company means by the name ... anyway, Penis Sauce or not, it's a pretty good basic condiment.

  3. I doubt the etymology of lingam (लिङ्गं) has anything to do with the etymology of Lingham which is a surname originating in Britain. Lingham is the surname of the inventor of Lingham's sauce. See their company website

  4. If you want a really good "real" Thai sriracha, get your mitts on "Tuong Ot Sriracha" - also known as "Flying Goose Sriracha"!

    It's got a very rounded off flavour, with a good heat. No bitterness (that I've noticed) afterwards.

    In Denmark (where I come from) it's easily available. When I first got around to it, it was with English print. In later months the print has been in German. I guess we got the British export at first, and later on, the German export.

    I seem to remember an article by one of your countrymen, where he stated that Flying Goose sriracha was not exported to the U.S., so he had to order it from England or some such.

    He liked it very much as opposed to Huy Fong Foods Sriracha, btw!

    Huy Fong Foods Sriracha is however not available in Denmark, so I can't say which is better.

    Hope this was helpful.

    And thanks for the mention of Lingham's Hot Sauce. I haven't tried it yet, since I'm a big fan of Flying Goose Sriracha.

    I'll give it a go, now.


  5. "Tuong Ot" means Chile Sauce or Chilli Sauce for the Brits, so all Srirachas are Tuong Ot!
    Flying Goose Brand, although I cannot find it in the US, is apparently available in many "flavors" as evidenced from the picture in a Wikipedia entry:
    Garlic, Glanaga, Sour, etc.
    Cool. Wish I could get my hands on some.
    Truth to tell, I like my homemade version best so far, which is not hard to make and can be made to my own taste!!
    See entries in this blog.

  6. Ouch! Lesson learned! ;-)

    Anyway. We get two variants (that I'm aware of) of the Flying Goose label sriracha. A "Hot" and a "Super Hot". I've had problems getting my hands on the Super Hot variant for some months now. Both are good though. Just bought the "Lingham's Chilli Sauce: Sriracha", today. (The one called "Lingham's Hot Sauce", your side of the pond!)

    Looking forward to trying it!

    I could give you a run down of my opinion(s) compared to Flying Goose, if you're so inclined?!

    I've got no doubts, Lingham's is a quality product, but I'll be surprised, if it's as good - or better - than Flying Goose! (IMHO)

    One can always hope.


  7. IMO, Lingham's is good but not GOOD. YMMV. It's interesting to me that the bottles the Flying Goose comes in are squeeze bottles similar to the Huy Fong bottles, whereas the other brands of Sriracha, actual Thai Tuong Ot Sriracha I've been able to get come in glass bottles.

    Take a look at the link in my comment above for the photo of the Flying Goose bottle.

    I really would like to come by some ... especially the Galangal, the Garlic and the Sour ...

    Sent an email to some of the Thai Food importers here -- we'll see what they say!

  8. I don't need a picture of the Flying Goose bottles, since I have one unopened in my cupboard and another in my fridge!
    (I always have at least one in my cupboard/fridge. I suffer from acute Srirachaholism!) ;-)

    I know of the other products in their line, but sofar I've only seen the two I've mentioned, in Denmark. Those are great btw.

    I'd love to try the other products. Maybe I should do like you, and write an e-mail to the importer here in DK?! ;-)

    Both of the variants of Flying Goose we get here in DK are with added garlic, btw.

    The "Hot" variant, comes with a semi-dark green cap, the "Super Hot" variant comes with a semi-dark red cap. None of the colours of the caps represented in the picture, looks like the colours on the caps I mentioned!

    Same cap desing, however!

    I just tried Lingham's. It's pretty good, but not "great"! In my opinion, it has a weak bitterness in the aftertaste, which I'm not a fan of. It's not much, though, so I still think it's good. I'll buy it again.

    Hands down, Flying Goose Srirachas are my all-time favorites. They work with any and every-thing.

    Be it on a piece of rye with coldcuts or in a spaghetti sauce, it tastes absolutely wonderful!

    Also I've noticed that Lingham's is a bit vinegar'y as opposed to Flying Goose.

    Not too much, though.

    A bit runnier too. You don't have to shake Flying Goose before use.

    Too much vinegar is a turn off for me, so as you can probably imagine, stuff like Tabasco isn't really my cup of tea.

    Still! Thanks for the recommendation. I like to try out different stuff. ;-)

    Haven't tried the Shark Label sriracha yet. How does it compare to Lingham's?

    And regarding bottle "concepts". I'm pretty sure Sea World Cold Storage Co., Ltd., was there first.

    When I first saw a picture of the Huy Fong Foods Sriracha, I was certain the bottle was a rip-off of the Flying Goose bottles.

    It could be the other way around, of course.

    But I don't think so.

    Unfortunately, info about SWCSCL is limited, unless you read Thai, so it's hard to tell which "came first"!

  9. Shark Brand Sriracha is very different from Lingham's. They are not similar in any useful way.

    By the way, Michael, I have a response from one of our Thai Food importers in re Flying Goose -- if you would like to see it, send me an email at the address in my blogger profile (click on the link) under my picture up near the top on the right.

  10. Okay. I haven't seen the Shark Brand in DK anyway. Maybe I can find it in an Asian foods store somewhere. I'll send you a mail ASAP

    I hope it's "good" news!



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