Sriracha (Se Racha). I’m amazed at how quickly the American palate has adopted this spicy-sweet condiment from Thailand. It is named after the coastal city of Si Racha, where it was first produced to accompany the many seafood dishes such a town is generally known for. Its use has grown, and it is now a popular addition to any dish that can use a bit of a kick, which in my book, is just about anything that comes after the breakfast cereal.
It’s a simple paste, with just five ingredients – ground chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. We found a recipe on line and had it jarred and labeled within several hours, but you can find it for a few bucks in most good grocery stores.
Here, we use it to form a simple compound butter that is used to flavor this simple fish dish. Hey, let’s make it even easier and skip making a compound butter, which has to sit overnight, and just add the sauce to the melting butter in the… but I get ahead of myself. Just read the recipe. It’s easy as pie. Easier even. A lot easier.
2 Tbsp butter at room temperature
2 Tbsp Sriracha
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 – 6 good-sized shrimp per person, peeled (the shrimp, not the persons) with tail left on.
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
Using a fork, combine butter and Sriracha in a small bowl until well mixed. Heat a saute pan over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes, add a little of the butter (to test) – if it smokes, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for about 20-30 seconds before adding the butter. When well melted, return to heat and add the chopped garlic, cooking just until fragrant, then add the shrimp – don’t crowd the pan, be sure each little bug is in full contact with the pan.
Just before the shrimp turn fully pink, add the lemon zest, mint and basil. Toss to coat. When shrimp are done and herbs have wilted, serve immediately. We like this with good side dishes of Jasmine Rice or Quinoa cooked in chicken or veggie broth and a salad dressed with rice wine vinegar, honey and sesame oil.
My Recommended Wine Pairing
The heat in this dish requires something with some sweetness and lower acidity. Relax, relax, I’m not talking about disgusting cheap stuff that’s going to shred your cred with your date, friends, spouse or family. It’s all about balance here, and with your tongue dancing with spice, you’ll be begging for a wine with these characteristics. Look for a German Riesling (preferably Spätlese or Auslese) or a muscat/Moscato. An off-dry Rosé would also be nice, but avoid the dry ones, I think they will clash quite badly with this dish. To pull the dish more towards a drier wine, amp the garlic and turn down the Sriracha.
Dave “the Wine Merchant”
Adapted from Bon Apetit, though altered to make the dish far more wine compatible. See their original recipe here.