Sriracha has become the latest darling of the culinary world…this addictive blend of chiles, vinegar and garlic is giving traditional hot sauce a run for its money on tables across the country. Hot on the heels of The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 “Rooster Sauce” Recipes that Pack a Punch, Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook has 50 vegan “rooster sauce” recipes from drinks and snacks to soups, salads, main dishes, breakfast ideas and desserts. You’ll find something to please every palate; there’s a healthy dash of the international, from Middle Eastern muhammara and hummus to the Mediterranean, Latin America, Caribbean, and Asia (pho sure!).
One of the greatest features is that yes, this is a vegan cookbook, but each recipe comes with suggestions to adapt recipes for (lacto-ovo) vegetarians as well as gluten-free diets. It’s a much-appreciated gesture; I do make vegan dishes from time to time, but I love that the substitutions are right there, so I don’t have to mentally convert ground flaxseed and water to egg whites, or ponder how to make gluten-free panko substitutes.
I tried four recipes: the Sriracha caponata (page 27), zippy zucchini zuppa with asparagus and cannellini beans (page 36), the Sriracha broccoli slaw (page 47), and the maple-Sriracha roasted Brussels sprouts with cranberry wild rice (page 87). Next up is the warm Dijon-Sriracha potato salad with toasted hazelnuts, spicy tabbouleh-stuffed dolmas, and the super simple peanut butter and Sriracha cookies w/ chocolate chips!
For my recipe testing, I used two readily-available brands of Sriracha, the ubiquitous Huy Fong, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, 17 Ounce Bottle and the new Trader Joe’s Sriracha sauce. Another awesome option is to use Huy Fong Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce, 8 Oz. or the straight-up Huy Fong Sambal Oelek Ground Chili Paste – 8 oz x 2 bottles– all heat, no garlic or spices. There is also a recipe for making your own Sriracha, but as Randy points out, it is cheaper (and easier) to purchase it! The four recipes I tested were all accurate as written and I found the seasoning levels perfect. If you like a hint of heat without going all the way, start out by using half the amount of Sriracha called for and season to taste.
The cranberry wild rice is going to be my new Thanksgiving standby; it is an addictive blend of toothsome wild rice, cranberries, chopped pecans, and rosemary topped with caramelized Brussels sprouts (the rice minus the Brussels sprouts would make a great filling for halved acorn squash as a vegan holiday entrée). It also makes a stunning centerpiece if you take the time to arrange the Brussels sprouts in rows across the rice (to see my uploaded images including this recipe, click on the “see all editorial reviews” link above). The broccoli slaw was a snap to throw together using bagged broccoli slaw from Trader Joe’s; lacking fresh ginger, I threw in some slivered crystallized ginger, and the spicy bite complemented the slaw nicely. The zippy zucchini zuppa was exactly that; I loved the addition of asparagus late in the cooking, as it gave a lovely crunch and color to the soup. The caponata was the first time I’d tried making my own at home, and I loved the combination of sweet (from raisins) and tart (cider vinegar, tomato puree, Kalamata olives).
Along with Randy’s signature humor, I love the fact that he uses his own experiences switching to a plant-based diet to sell the merits of these recipes; I find that nothing turns me off quicker than preachy manifestos disguised as cookbooks! You won’t find recipes that used processed TVP meat analogs – no chik’n nuggets, vegan corn dogs, or their iffy ilk here, though you will find some tofu-based recipes like Israeli shakshuka, a California Benedict, or quiche Florentine, along with tempeh. If you live in a small town, you may have difficulty finding a few of the ingredients locally, but most ingredients should be easy enough to source or can be ordered online (the most expensive and hard-to-find item here is ackee, or canned jackfruit, used to mimic the texture of pulled pork).
The 50 recipes in “Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook” offer tasty and quick ways to add more fresh veggies into your diet with a splash of Sriracha. This is comfort food at its best, from Sriracha-cauliflower mac n’ cheeze and banh xeo (Vietnamese “crepes” filled with savory fillings) to curried kale and squash risotto, to some snappy tipples like watermelon-Sriracha sangria and mango-Sriracha margaritas that are a perfect way to beat the summer heat. Best of all, Randy’s recipes inspired me to start creating my own vegetarian Sriracha-spiked creations; yesterday I made killer ice pops by blending a couple of tablespoons of Sriracha with store-bought watermelon agua fresca, poured into Tovolo Star Ice Pop Molds, Set of 6, Greenand froze, and it was awesome!(spicy popsicles are a Mexican staple; chile mango, chile pineapple or chile tamarind are a common sight from pushcart vendors; more spicy pops can be found in Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas).
(A huge thank you to Randy Clemens and Ten Speed Press for the review copy!)