Can You Please Pass the Hot?

I like food. (Shut up to every single one of you that made a comment and or laughed when you read that.) I enjoy food so much that when I eat it is more about the enjoyment of the food and the experience of eating it, the setting in which I consume it, and the company that I keep while I am nourishing my body. I enjoy food so much that I will spend less money on necessities (even though food is second to water in that category) just so I have enough money to spend on a nice dinner. There is nothing wrong in my eyes in spending upwards of $100 on a meal if you have the entire package.

But what does that entire package include? Well, it all starts with the excitement leading to the meal. You do not walk into the food court at the mall and spend $100 and enjoy it. Even though the Chinese people make some mean bourbon chicken. So it begins with a reservation. You get ready to go out and you dress nicer than a normal Friday night and get to your destination early to enjoy a pre meal cocktail in the bar prior to sitting down. (Why do nearly all reservation required restaurants have the ability to transfer your drinks from the bar to your table but nothing below an Outback steakhouse can figure that concept out?) You finally get seated and your server arrives with some glasses of ice water and some crackers or bread to snack on while you gander over the menu.

By the time he or she comes back to the table you have decided on a nice wine for the meal and are ready to throw an order in for an appetizer. You will not see the server again, outside of a refill on your Merlot (and there are usually other servers that will handle this element of the night) until you are finished with your app and ready to order your main course. And when you order they hit every key element on the head. Most places will cook the steak or burger, and in some cases even pork and chicken, to taste and to temperature. Add the sides and continue your conversation.

You see where I am going with this. Then comes the meal, dessert is offered, and you are off to the check. And when I wrote for InTake Magazine a long long time ago (where I could theoretically say I met my girlfriend as she was a writer as well) I posted an article on what to tip. Most places say 15% is considered the standard. And of course, there are the people like my step dad who think that a dollar a person is enough. But in a place where you spend an entire evening, and half your pay check on dinner, you should be expected to tip between 25-30%.

So you can see that I like to eat. And lately I have been covering most of what I eat whether it be chicken, a burger, fish, or even spaghetti (don’t knock it until you try it) with Sriracha. This is a red hot sauce from Thailand that has been making it’s way through American popularity. The sauce can be found at pretty much every Chinese buffet and I would like to suggest much caution when you put it on your dinner. This sauce hits a whole new level of hot. Have you had Tabasco? If you have, that is nothing compared to this sauce. Sriracha will point and laugh at Tabasco. It is really that hot.

I put this sauce on everything. But the most delicious creation that I have come up with happens at any good Chinese place. You head to the roll up station (where you have tortillas and meat to make a taco style dish) and grab the shell and nothing more. Throw a good layer of Sriracha on that before you place any meat inside. Then, after the meat is on the shell, toss some more sauce on there and roll it up. Give it a few moments to settle into the meat and then have your glass of milk and sour cream ready. (What is it that makes milk products able to cure a hot throat? Water actually makes it hotter and extends the amount of heat your mouth feels. That is sort of like when you are warm and you wave a newspaper or a magazine to cool you down. Did you know that when you are doing this you are actually making yourself more hot? Your body is in motion, and sure, the cool moving air feels good; until you stop.)

But what makes a sauce like Sriracha so popular? Why was it not popular before now in the world of cooking? Is it because of all these chefs having reality TV shows and using this sauce because they really do know what they are talking about? Or maybe it is because people are looking for cheaper alternatives to ketchup and mustard and it just caught on. (This stuff runs under $2 a bottle at Walmart. You can get one bottle and it will last you for months.)

So the next time that you are trying to spice up your dinners toss some Sriracha on top. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the heat level.