The Weird and the Wonderful

Sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me.  Like when I decide I want to preserve some early rhubarb and my last bag of Moro blood oranges and end up with another 13 jars of marmalade.

Or when I read about an oddball of a cookbook, the niche-iest of all niche publications, and decide I have to make something weirdly wonderful from it.  I mean, won’t-rest-until-I-do have to.

So it was with The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 Rooster Sauce Recipes That Pack  A Punch by Randy Clemens.

Clemens is a freelance food writer who happens to love sriracha, or Thai chili sauce, and its American-born relative, Rooster Sauce, made by Huy Fong Foods of Rosemead, California.  A lot of people love sriracha; it turns up on more restaurant tables and grocery shelves and, therefore, in more homes every day.  Write the word “sriracha” in your Twitter post and see how many people begin a conversation with you.  Sriracha as a condiment is gaining popularity.  Made with ground up chilis, sugar, salt, garlic, and vinegar, it has the heat and complexity of flavor that diners often crave to enhance their meals.

Enhance is the key word there.  Most people shake sriracha on their eggs or home fries or, as is done in my house, macaroni and cheese or cheese grits to add a little savory and a lot of heat.  Clemens, however, incorporates sriracha into recipes: for honey sriracha-glazed wings, maple sriracha breakfast patties, vinaigrette dressings, cocktails.

I read about the book back in February, in the Boston Globe.  A recipe from the book for Cheddar-Sriracha Swirl Bread popped up as recipe of the day on Epicurious a week or two later.  How could I, so epi-curious myself, resist?

You’ll find Clemens’ recipe on Epicurious by clicking on the link above; it’s a fairly straightforward white sandwich bread with a spiral of hot sauce and sharp cheddar.  While I probably won’t make this my breakfast toast, I agree with Epicurious that this might make a fantastic sandwich bread (think slivers of country ham).  If you have never tried sriracha and are worried about the heat intensity…well, it is hot.  But it’s a heat that hits you at the back of the throat, warms you as it goes down, and then dissipates, unlike some chili or jalapeno sauces that get you on the lips and tongue and don’t let go.

Follow Clemens’ recipe to the letter, or do what I did and make a few changes to the recipe:  2 Tbsp. honey for the sugar (because I always use honey instead of sugar when I make bread); 2 Tbsp. canola oil for the butter; and 4 1/4 cups of unbleached flour (instead of 4) to create a dough that pulled away from the sides of the stand mixer bowl when it was being kneaded.  Once you have the dough made the way you like it, here’s what you do for the assembly of one large loaf:


Turn the kneaded dough onto a board

Roll the dough to a long oval and spread sriracha on top, leaving a 1-inch border

Sprinkle grated cheese on top of sriracha, leaving the 1-inch border

Beginning at one end of the oval, roll up the dough

Roll the dough into a log, seam side down

Place dough in loaf pan and let rise until it crowns the pan

One large, brown crusty loaf (after a turn in the oven both in and out of the pan)

A cheesy, spicy swirl of goodness

Waiting to be sliced for supper

Soon to be enjoying this bread sandwiching thin slices of Sunday’s garlicky roast pork along with cups of homemade onion soup – a supper that is perfect for this snowy, slushy, raw day.  Sometimes a little curiosity pays off, big time.

©2011  Jane A. Ward