The Sriracha Cookbook: A Review

my orginal article can be found here

Randy Clemens’ Twitter page assures that he is “not affiliated with Huy

photo by Karl Kuhls

Fong Foods—just a huge fan!” But he is more than just a fan of the fiery condiment; Clemens has become somewhat of a connoisseur. With a culinary degree and a gift for writing recipes in a no-fuss style dabbled with humor and anecdotes, he is someone we can certainly learn from.

Cuisine:

Although some dishes, like the Turned-Up Tuna Tartare and Sriracha Ceviche are more advanced, the majority of the recipes fall under spicy stoner food—and I mean this in the best way possible. The dishes from this book are definitely the kind of food to accompany a cold beer—which makes sense, because Clemens is also an established beer writer. Sriracha and SPAM Fried Rice, Bacon Sriracha Cornbread, and of course, The Ultimate Sriracha Burger, are all dishes that a drunk might pull together—an extremely talented drunk person who knows his flavor combinations.

What stands out:

Besides the fantastic idea for the book itself, what’s unique is that Clemens has really done his research. This is evidenced by a foreword about the roots of authentic Thai Sriracha, as well as background information on the man who brought it to the United States, David Tran. Along with the recipes, Leo Gong’s photography is spectacular; causing cravings for Cheddar-Sriracha Swirl Bread you didn’t even know you had. Obviously, Clemens also deserves points for creativity—in the back of the book is an unexpected dessert section. Can’t say I saw that coming.

What’s not so great:

While there are some healthy recipes, there are a mere three salad and vegetable dishes in the entire book. It would have been interesting to see more experimentation in that department, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker.

The verdict:

This book, like the condiment, is addicting and inspiring. It’s great to see how far this sauce can really go flavor-wise and cuisine-wise. In fact, Clemens inspired me to make my own Sriracha dish:

Sriracha Sunset Soup

Like Clemens’ recipes, the amount of heat in this dish can be varied to the desire of its eaters. A mixture of oranges, carrots and garlic; this soup takes on the golden hue of the sun setting, as well as its heat. Feel free to top with any protein after cooking (a fried or poached egg might be tasty) or simply a handful of chopped cilantro.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of Sriracha hot sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of grated or dried ginger, fresh is preferable
  • 3 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice (Meyer is great if you can find it)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 scallions
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper, and more Sriracha to taste

Method:

Peel the carrots and cut into coins, about one inch thick. Mince the garlic. Grate the ginger and slice your scallions. Bring the olive oil to medium heat in a medium saucepan. When the oil is hot, add garlic and sauté until soft, about two minutes. Add the carrots, Sriracha, 3 tablespoons of the grated ginger, broth and juice. Bring to a boil. After the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover half way. Cook until the carrots are tender, about 25 minutes. Blend mixture with an immersion blender to desired consistency (alternatively, you could let the soup cool and mix in a regular blender). After the soup is blended, add the lemon juice, sesame oil, soy sauce and scallions. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, freshly ground pepper, and of course, more Sriracha.

Soup For You!

There are plenty of ways to keep gastronomically warm on a blustery day.

photo by Drew Martig

You could clutch a mug filled with steaming coffee or tea. You could secretly sip whisky from flask when no one’s watching. You could even add hot sauce to your eggs, sandwiches and takeout, hoping that the heat from your tongue produces enough of a sweat that it’ll heat up the rest of you. However, if all else fails, hot soup is always a standard blanket in a bowl for when the weather is frigid. Here are some of the best soups to order in Portland.

Frank’s Noodle House

Wonton Soup

Now, it must be said that the namesake dish of Frank’s Noodle House is a force to be reckoned with: chewy, thick and perfect noodles are something you’ll come to crave shortly after your first visit. However, since we aren’t talking noodles today, I direct your attention to their wonton soup. The massive bowl (definitely big enough to share) is brought to your table with smells floating above it that can only be described as seductive. In the Cantonese language, wonton translates directly to the phrase “swallowing clouds,” and Frank’s wontons live up to their name in this soup. The soft and flavorful wrappers, with ground meat and green onions are heavenly and not too heavy. Along with the wontons are bok choi and cabbage, which maintain their bite while contributing a refreshing flavor that stands up well to the richness of the broth. The real secret to this soup’s mastery is the homemade chicken broth that is used as the base of the soup. Savory and almost mushroom-like, the broth alone could easily cure any ills when sipped by itself. In fact, you’ll likely find yourself ingesting it long after the wontons are gone. A bowl of this and a plate of any of their noodle dishes, and you may never be cold again.

822 NE Broadway

Monday–Thursday 11 a.m–9:30 p.m. and 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

Friday–Saturday

Portland Soup Company

Roasted Tomato Reggiano

This tomato soup is far from the can o’ Campbells you may have had as a kid. The base of this bisque-like concoction is slightly sweet and slightly tart, finding the perfect balance (just like a good tomato should). Shredded Parmigiano Reggiano adds just a touch of creaminess, and their olive oil-kissed croutons stay crisp even on a rainy walk back to campus. The soup is a perfect companion to any of their handmade sandwiches (like pork butt and red cabbage or homemade mozzarella with oven dried tomatoes) or seasonal salads.

SW Fourth Avenue and College Street.

Monday-Friday 11 a.m. -3p.m.

Savor Soup House

Carrot Ginger & Coconut

This Thursday-only vegan soup option may sound more like a smoothie flavor than lunch, but it is certainly one not to be overlooked. And if the slight sweetness of the carrots and satisfactory spiciness of ginger isn’t enough, the smoky fried onions take it above and beyond in the flavor department. Also an added bonus, the food cart serves each cup (or bowl) of soup with crusty Como bread from Grand Central Bakery for ultimate dipping.

1003 SW Alder St.

Monday–Friday 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

While there are many food-coma inducing meals to be had at this downtown deli (including mouth watering pastrami), this mushroom soup can hold its own. The cream base is subtly flavored, letting the mushrooms in the soup really shine. Buttery and slightly smoky, this soup may not be a “sandwich as big as your head” as the Kenny and Zuke’s sign promises, but it is just as satisfying. Pair with a bialy and a pickle and you’ll feel like a Hungarian, New Yorker, and a Portlander all at once.

1038 SW Stark St.

Sunday–Thursday 7 a.m–9 p.m. Friday and

Saturday 7 a.m.–9 p.m.