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A Very Sriracha Super Bowl

Honey-Sriracha Chicken Wings
Honey-Sriracha Chicken Wings

If there's one thing we've learned by now, it's that Sriracha makes everything taste better. Well, almost everything. Local food writer and chef Randy Clemens found at least 50 uses for the locally made sweet, garlicky chili sauce for The Sriracha Cookbook, which he published last year. And the dishes go far beyond adding it to a bowl of pho. Think burgers, chicken wings and pizza, just what you want to be eating this Sunday.

What a lot of people don't know is that the sriracha chili paste you find on most grocery store shelves (and in kitchen pantries) today is made by the Huy Fong Foods in San Gabriel Valley. David Tran, who developed the sauce in the late 80s, set out to make a chili paste that would satisfy the flux of Vietnamese moving to the Southland at the time, but also anyone who might like a little sweet heat with their meal. Tran's recipe is based on a traditional Thai chili paste, but it's more multicultural than that. Even the ingredient list on the bottle is written in several different languages, including French and Spanish.

Huy Fong's "rooster sauce" is now almost as ubiquitous as ketchup in this country, used and beloved by celebrity chefs, home cooks, and even served at chain restaurants. What's not to like? The pungent paste adds depth to just about anything--sausages, pizza, dips, dressings, eggs. We know people who carry it in their purse and car just so they always have it on hand.

That versatility and addictive quality is what caught Clemens' attention. After years of putting it on everything, he realized he could put it in everything, too. And so The Sriracha Cookbook was born. "It really can be used in a wide variety of dishes," he says. "That spicy kick is always just right for me... almost too hot, but not quite. It keeps you going back for one more bite, and then another. And another."

His sriracha-spiked burger is a perfect example. Not only does he add a few tablespoons to the ground beef, but he also combines it with blue cheese dressing for a perfect sauce. That same dressing makes a fantastic dip for vegetables, too. Perhaps even better? Sweetened with a little honey, sriracha makes a great glaze for chicken wings. And keep the bottle out during the game -- someone will undoubtedly squirt it right onto their tortilla chips for a quick spicy snack.

Honey-Sriracha Glazed Buffalo Wings
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
4 pounds chicken wings
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2/3 cup Sriracha
½ cup orange blossom honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Prepare the deep fryer by filling with oil to the manufacturer's suggested fill level. (Alternately, a cast-iron or other wide heavy-duty pan can be used; fill with oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches, but no more than halfway up the side of the pan.) Tuck the wing tips beneath the wing to avoid burning them, or remove the tips and save to make stock.

Heat the oil to 350°F. Fry the wings in batches for 10 to 12 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Be careful not to crowd the pan, as this will lower the temperature of the oil significantly and result in soggy wings. Keep batches of cooked wings on a wire rack set over a baking sheet (or on a foil-lined baking sheet) in the preheated oven until all the wings have been fried.

While the wings are frying, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the Sriracha, honey, salt, and lime juice, stirring to combine. Keep warm over low heat. Put the cooked wings in a large mixing bowl and toss with the Sriracha mixture. Plate the coated wings on a large platter, garnishing with cilantro and sesame seeds.

Reprinted with permission from The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 "Rooster Sauce" Recipes That Pack a Punch by Randy Clemens, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Leo Gong © 2011