This guest post is written by Michelle Wong from Sift & Simmer.

Growing up with parents who are spicy food lovers, I always recalled a bottle of sriracha hot sauce at the table. I can bet you know which sriracha sauce I grew up with: the classic green plastic top lid. Naturally, I learnt to enjoy it at a young age. It went on anything and everything that we ate: rice, pizza, noodles, even chicken pie.

All this came to a halt when we discovered that the hot sauce contained preservatives and sulfites that were causing my brother asthma attacks.

You’ve probably heard of the term “sriracha” and associate it with some type of hot sauce, but did you know that sriracha is named after a coastal city in Thailand?

Sriracha (pronounced “si-rot-cha”) is a delicious, mildly flavoured hot chili pepper sauce made with red jalapeno chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. Often used as a dipping sauce in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, this hot sauce is versatile — pairing well with appetizers such as spring rolls, green onion cakes, and in various noodle and rice dishes.

In North America, sriracha is commonly used in mayonnaise-based sauces to go with burgers or sandwiches to give it a spicy kick. If you’ve had spicy tuna rolls in sushi, you can bet that sriracha is the secret ingredient bringing the heat.

Hot sauce is gaining in popularity, ranking as one of the fastest growing industries in the US. Lay’s even had a sriracha flavoured potato chip during its “New Flavour Contest.” And there’s even a cookbook dedicated to the use of sriracha. In 2013, there was a documentary on the origin and production of Sriracha produced by American filmmaker Griffin Hammond.

In terms of heat/spiciness/pungency which is measured by the Scoville scale from 0 – 3.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHC), sriracha ranks at approximately 2200 SHC, which is considered quite mild. Made with the same green jalapenos you would see in Mexican cuisine, these peppers are fully ripened so they turn red. The red jalapeno chili peppers lose approximately half of their spiciness through the processing, which makes it the perfect hot sauce for people who want to try spicy food, but are unsure of their heat tolerance. It’s definitely a hot sauce that many people can enjoy.

Some fun sriracha facts:
-Sriracha may help to lose weight due to the capsaicin levels in chili, which helps to increase metabolism.

-It makes you happy! The same compound, capsaicin, produces endorphins and dopamine that make you feel good, similar to a “runner’s high.”

-The garlic in sriracha helps to lower blood pressure and helps to fight colds.

-Also, eating spicy food acts as a natural decongestant, so the next time you feel a cold coming on, have some sriracha!

Michelle Wong is a recipe developer and food photographer at her blog Sift & Simmer. She is a self-taught home cook and baker who enjoys creating healthy, delicious, and nutritious dishes for her family. On her blog, you’ll find unique twists on classic Asian recipes, as well as everyday favourites. Michelle is also an avid matcha lover. Her work has been featured on TODAY Food, The FeedFeed, Huffpost Canada Living, and she is a regular contributor to Curious Cuisiniere.

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