Like Sriracha? You’ll Love These 5 Condiments
It's getting hot in here.
There’s something about Sriracha. Maybe it’s the bottle’s large size, or that rooster, or the iconic red-and-green, is-it-Christmas-or-am-I-eating-dumplings color combo. Whatever’s happening, it’s addictive. I’ve been known to pool Sriracha next to baked mac ‘n cheese, drizzle it on egg sandwiches, or use it in marinades when I think they need a little extra hot-sweet something.
But let’s be honest: Sriracha is quite sweet, rather overpowering, texturally odd, and not always exactly what you’re craving. To that end, here are my top five spicy-sweet condiments that aren’t Sriracha.
My colleague Ganda Suthivarakom turned me on to Portuguese piri-piri sauce in a piece she wrote for Saveur many years ago. Mázi’s rendition—which you’ll spy at specialty shops and can buy online—has a gloriously slow burn, a fruity tomato sauce base, and silky texture. Unlike a hot sauce like Tabasco, it’s not vinegar-based, so it doesn’t bring acrid notes to the table.
Sambal Oelek (Chili Paste)
Among the many glorious qualities this chili paste boasts is its ability to substitute for fresh peppers in recipes in a pinch (as is also true of dried red pepper flakes). Sambal oelek is known to taste a whole lot like fresh chiles, and it’s what I bust out for stir-fried pork and vermicelli noodles or to serve alongside any rice-based dish. It’s hot, the tiniest bit sweet, and doesn’t knock you over with heat. Bonus: It’s inexpensive.
Some New Yorkers would argue that if you’ve never tried a pizza drizzled with this product, you haven’t really had pizza. I wouldn’t go that far, nor would I call it “the world’s most versatile condiment,” as its website does, but I would say that infusing honey with chiles and drizzling it on a pepperoni-packed pie is a pretty damn perfect gastronomic experience.
Funky, spicy, garlicky, and a little sweet, this Korean condiment has experienced a mini boom in popularity these last few years. Fermented soybeans contribute umami funk to the finished product, which is a delight to play around with in marinades, deviled eggs, spooned into mayonnaise, or dolloped alongside a finished dish (although it’s typically cut with something).
Watch: What is Gochujang?
Cocktail fans love bitters for their unique ability to add a trace of bitterness, fruitiness, or aromatics to a drink. It’s no surprise that habanero bitters accomplish the same sleight of hand. One can add—drop by drop—heat to a drink that shimmers on the palate delicately, thanks to this bitters’ structure as a shrub. (It’s laced with vinegar.) Hot and lightly sweet thanks to the pepper’s fruity flavor, it’s the most fun you can have with heat without turning on the oven.