This city has taught me a lot about food, but one of the most important food lessons came in the shape of a plastic bottle with a green cap and nozzle. Sriracha–a sauce created by a Chinese immigrant from Vietnam who relocated in Los Angeles–has flavors that are warm and spicy–like ketchup mixed with garlic and smoked jalapeno. It’s a magical sauce that can transform anything into something spicy good.
During those formative first few months in LA, I spotted the rooster sauce on restaurant tables all over LA–from the Mexican taco stand, late night diners, Chinese restaurants, and an all night Thai place in Hollywood where a Thai man with thick black hair dressed up like Elvis and sang between courses.
I was hesitant to try the spicy red sauce. Before I became a citizen of a multi-cultural city, I had never been exposed to a food city where Mexican, Guatemalan, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Middle-Eastern dishes could be found within miles of my home. I was brought up on simple foods and avoided spice wherever possible. But once I took my first taste of Sriracha sauce I was hooked. I bought a bottle at a Thai market not far from my home and began experimenting with it. Sriracha perked up my scrambled eggs, made the cheap frozen pizzas a I survived on more palatable, and took my Thai cooking up a notch.
In the years since my discovery, I have figured out a way to work Sriracha into many of my mainstay recipes, including sauteed kale, chicken banh mi, caramel pork banh mi, and edamame dip. So when one of the food-loving employees at the restaurant I consult at, told me a story about the Sriracha marinaded fish she cooked the night before, I got inspired. Rather than make my usual roasted chicken for dinner, why not make Sriracha chicken instead? Rather than making things complicated, I kept this recipe really simple.