Monday, October 03, 2005


Sriracha hot sauce, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....

The first time I tried Sriracha, it nearly blew my head off. It was at a Japanese stir-fry joint in the local mall, where clear plastic squeezy bottles of the red stuff were available for those who liked their food a bit less-tame than the usual. I was still working on building my tolerance to chiles, and a li'l dab just about did me in.

These days, I'll put it on a hotdog or hamburger, and squirt it into soups or chili. There's always a green-capped bottle of it in the fridge. The taste is hot pickled chile pepper (think pureed hoagie spread rather than pickled jalapenos) with a mega-dose of garlic. Yum!

One of my favorite dishes to make that features Sriracha is a bouillabaisse of sorts. I had eaten it several years ago at a local restaurant called Ixia. That chef has since left and took his recipe with him, so I had to make it up from my taste memory. A tomato-based seafood stew, seasoned with sriracha, this dish can be made as spicy or as mild as you like. I made this last night for dinner and added chopped steamed bok choy to the broth just before serving.

Sriracha Chile Bouillabaisse

1 medium onion, finely diced
1 32-oz can diced tomatoes in juice (without seasonings)
2 bottles of clam juice plus 2 cups of water
2 Knorr fish bouillon cubes plus 4 cups of water
1 tblsp honey
Sriracha chile sauce
1/2 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 lb large scallops
4 fillets mild white-fleshed fish (red snapper, tilapia, halibut are all good)
flour for dredging
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat olive oil and sautee onion until transluscent. Add tomatoes, clam juice or bouillon cubes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add honey. Cover and let broth simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, to allow flavors to meld. Add sriracha to taste (if you don't like a lot of heat, start with a tablespoon, otherwise add a tablespoon or more) and salt and pepper, if needed.

Dredge fish fillets in a bit of flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan and add shrimp and scallops. Cook until done. Remove seafood from pan. Add more olive oil, if necessary, and brown fish fillets on both sides. Ideally, the flesh should be cooked through and the skin, if there is any, should be nicely crispy.

To serve:
Divide shrimp and scallops between four large deep bowls. Ladle over tomato/sriracha broth. Top all with a fish fillet. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro, if desired. Serve with toasted French bread to mop up the juices.

Serves 4