Goin' for the burn
Old-timer Tabasco vs. hip sriracha in hot sauce smackdown
Hot sauce smackdown: They are two of the biggest players in a chili-fired challenge playing out in homes and restaurants across America. Meet our contenders. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
On its own: Clean, bright and tart with pleasing vinegar bite, although some found that acidic punch too much when tasted straight.
On rice: "Fruity, lively." "Overwhelmed the rice." "A few drops perks up plain rice." "So vinegary hot."
On chicken: "Cuts through the fat, nice contrast." "Masks chicken taste too much." "Nice with richness of chicken."
With tomato juice: "Nice foil to sweet juice." "Yummy." "Move over, the other sauce may be the new mixer in town."
Also try with: Gazpacho, guacamole, fries, onion rings, fried fish, shrimp, sausages, gumbo.
Huy Fong's sriracha
What's in a name: A Thai beach/seaport named Si Racha where a similar sauce is served with seafood. Made: In the USA (Rosemead, Calif.)
Label lore: "Natural color"
Ingredients: Chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite as preservatives, and xanthan gum.
Cost: 39 cents per ounce
Firepower: Uses red jalapeno peppers
On its own: Pastelike sauce, with an off-the-vine red pepper scent and fruity, garlicky, chili pepper taste with a trace of sweetness. Moderate heat that lingers.
On rice: "Rounds out the rice; rice tames the heat." "Just right amount of heat." "Too sweet with rice."
On chicken: "Chicken tames the heat." "Plain chicken doesn't hold up; garlic rubbed or strong seasonings would complement." "Great bright flavor." "Good for those who like spicy barbecue sauce."
With tomato juice: "Adds a subtle sweetness to the already semi-sweet juice." "Complements the juice's acidity." "Better for those who want heat but no change in sweetness."
Also try with: Crab cakes, black bean soup, fried fish sticks, salty Asian dishes, pho and dishes with citrus notes such as kumquat, tangerine or lemon grass.