I read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules a few years ago, and some of the rules stuck with me and have become a way of life. So it’s pretty typical for me to consider a few basic things when walking the aisles of the grocery store. Would grandma recognize this food? Can I pronounce all these ingredients? Those are my top two qualifications before buying anything. Pretty simple questions we should all be asking ourselves.
So I was shocked when I was reading my new cookbook, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good”, and she mentioned that Sriracha had preservatives in it. I never even thought about looking at the label of my favorite condiment. It’s been a countertop staple for me for at least the last five years, if not longer. It seemed so fresh and pure. I got duped. Everyone’s favorite “rooster sauce isn’t as perfect as we all thought.”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not completely awful for you. It’s just not as perfect as it should be. The natural ingredients in Sriracha offer really fantastic health benefits, like the capsaicin from red chili peppers, which helps boost metabolism and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Eating chili peppers is also believed to boost your endorphins, which makes you feel happier. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out Foodbeast’s blog post for some more fun and impressive Sriracha facts.
The truly bad parts of store bought Sriracha are the high sodium content and the processed sugars it contains, as well as these three preservatives: potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite, and xantham gum. Does xantham gum sound as gross to everyone reading this as it does to me?
So this weekend I tried making Lee’s Sriracha recipe out of my new book and I am so, so happy with the result. There are plenty of Sriracha recipes available online to try, but I won’t be experimenting any further, this one fits the bill. Gwyneth promises this lasts for up to six months in the fridge, but that’s the ironic thing about preservatives in products such as this, why bother? They don’t last that long in our homes anyway.
I haven’t invested in a Vitamix or high powered food processor yet, so as a result mine isn’t as smooth as the sriracha I’m used to, but the flavor is spot-on, so a chunkier sauce will just have to do for now.
Recipe: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sriracha
- 1 ¼ cups peeled garlic cloves*
- 1 pound red jalapeños, stemmed & sliced into thin rings (the amount of seeds you keep vs. discard will determine how spicy your sauce will be)**
- 2 ¼ cups rice wine vinegar***
- ¼ plus 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup****
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce*****
- *I splurged on a $3.99/bag of peeled garlic from Jackson Whole Grocer. One bag was the exact amount needed for recipe. I’m in a “time is money” mindset all summer, and I hate peeling garlic.
- **I had a few habanero peppers sitting around so I threw them in for extra heat.
- ***I substituted brown rice wine vinegar, totally up to you.
- ****I couldn’t find brown rice syrup and also heard something about it having traces of arsenic in it, so I used agave syrup instead. Googleoffered a number of suggestions for this substitution. Go with whichever you’ve already got in your pantry, and save a few bucks.
- *****I used Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s in place of fish sauce so now my version is vegan too! Soy sauce would’ve worked as well.
- In a small saucepan cover the garlic with cold water, bring to a boil and immediately drain and cool the garlic under running water. Repeat process.
- Thinly slice the blanched garlic, and combine with the jalapeños and vinegar in a larger pot. Bring to a boil, cook for 3 minutes, and remove from heat.
- Add the brown rice syrup and salt, and stir to combine.
- Let mixture sit undisturbed for an hour to steep and cool.
- Transfer the mixture to a powerful blender until smooth (it’s okay if all the seeds don’t blend in).
- Return pureed mixture to pot, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and has some body.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot with 1 tablespoon warm water.
- Whisk into the simmering sauce, and cook for two more minutes or until the sauce is nicely thickened (it should be slightly thinner than ketchup).
- Remove from heat, let cool slightly and stir in fish sauce.
- Store in a screw-top jar or bottle in the refrigerator for up to six months.