This morning, America awoke to terrible news. Because of what it says are new regulations, California’s Department of Public Health has halted all shipments of Huy Fong-brand sriracha sauce (and other products) for 30 days to “ensure an effective treatment of micro-organisms present” in the company’s uncooked products. This of course comes on the heels of the continuing drama surrounding Huy Fong’s court-ordered partial shutdown of its plant in Irwindale, California. Amid this uncertainty, Huy Fong claims it has enough bottles on hand to prevent a shortage, so maybe things aren’t that bad. But even the suggestion of a sriracha shortage is panic-inducing. Fortunately, Grub Street panicked long ago and can now present a worst-case-scenario, six-point sriracha-shortage preparedness plan — just in case this situation deteriorates further.
1. Ration what little sriracha you have left: This should be obvious. If you didn’t immediately implement this basic procedure when you first read today’s harrowing news, you deserve whatever horrible fate you have coming to you.
2. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can live without this stuff: The first thing many rational people do during a shortage is try to figure out how to simply do without the goods in question. In this particular instance, this would be a bad plan. Without sriracha, these are the foods that will no longer taste as good: pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, pork buns, any and all Thai food, Chinese takeout, vodka, and literally every other food known to mankind.
3. Know your alternatives: As anyone who lived through the great Angostura shortage of early 2010 can attest, you’ll have to soften your brand allegiance during times of unrest. No alternative can truly re-create the exact flavor of Huy Fong’s particular variety of California-made sriracha, but you do have two viable options: (a) Other well-liked types of sriracha such as Shark and Polar (which won a Serious Eats taste-off back in June). Inevitably, they will taste disappointing at first, but in time you will grow content with your new reality. (b)“Brooklyn” sriracha. There are hot-sauce artisans, of course. Here are two good choices: Jojo’s, which has its own video companion; and Sunny Bang hot sauce, which is fruitier, brighter, spicier, and funkier than sriracha. (It’s also maybe even harder to find, but at least there’s no government-enforced stoppage … yet.)
4. Consider Guchojang: Gochujang, a fermented Korean chile paste, has been quietly developing its own sriracha-like following, and if you’ve been holding off, now might be the time to make the jump. Seek some out and try it. If you like it, stock up, in case it, too, falls afoul of a public health department.
5. Learn to make your own: Eventually even off brands and black-market sriracha supplies will dry up (possibly before the end of the week) and we will be left in a world completely devoid of proper rooster sauce. Then the only course of action will be to learn to make your own. This is not ideal, but since society will have probably crumbled by this point, there will be little else to do to occupy your time, so you might as well give it a shot. Here’s a recipe, which Grub Street suggests printing out now and storing in a safe place before you trade your laptop for your grocery store’s last remaining bottle of Huy Fong.
6. If things get really bleak, head south toward the sea. It worked for the kid in the The Road.