Real Foodists: Sriracha Powder with a Weston Dehydrator

by Scott Leysath

Scott Leysath is the host of The Sporting Chef, airing Sundays at 12:30pm on The Sportsman Channel.

Each week, Chef Leysath shows viewers how to transform anything with fur, fins and feathers into delicious table fare in what’s been called “the fastest half-hour on outdoor television.” As a Veteran wild game cooking expert, Scott leads a pack of professional & home chefs, cookbook authors and outdoor experts on a quest to discover the best recipes, tips and techniques that will make the most of your fish and game from the field to the table.
Sriracha Powder How-To

Sriracha is the hot sauce. Wait, I meant, of the hot sauces out there, Sriracha is the hottest. Today, you can find Sriracha-flavored ketchup, potato chips, popcorn, jam and even Sriracha lip balm. Really. Too bad for Sriracha’s founder that he didn’t secure a trademark for the name. We’re all free to use it anywhere we choose. Hey, how about Sriracha toothpaste? Better yet, Sriracha salt?

My challenge – how to infuse the vinegary, garlicy, hot and slightly sweet taste of Sriracha into my own seasoning blends. There are times with a dry seasoning just works better than a wet sauce. Suppose you want to put a dusting, rather than a dollop, of Sriracha flavor over a grilled hunk of venison or elk. Perhaps you would like to add a hint of Sriracha flavor to your favorite meat rub. You would want to first figure out a way to turn wet into dry. My Weston Food Dehydrator was the obvious solution.

I searched around online and discovered that I wasn’t the first person to think of turning Sriracha into a dry rub. No surprise. Others have spread the sauce onto parchment paper and dried it in a low-temp oven. I’m guessing that they don’t own a Weston dehydrator. Not having any parchment paper on hand (I usually do), I used heavy-duty foil instead. I have a bias against any foil that’s not heavy-duty. Standard-grade foil is good for wadding into a ball and that’s about it. You might save a couple of bucks at the store, but it’s going to rip and tear and you’ll have to use twice as much as the heavy-duty stuff. Enough about foil.

As long as I had the dehydrator warmed up, I thought it would make sense to see if I could turn a few other sauces into powder. Valentina Hot Sauce, Búfalo Salsa Clasica and Unagi Sushi Sauce were the other three that I grabbed out of the pantry. Spread thinly onto foil and placed into the Weston Dehydrator for 6 hours at 155 degrees, I anxiously awaited the results as I went about my daily business.

One of the cool things about a dehydrator is that it requires little attention while it does its thing. Properly set, it’s practically impossible to “overcook” or dry a fruit, vegetable or meat too long. Air circulation, moderate heat and time do the job. You just can’t rush dehydration. And when it comes to making jerky, I really like what a Weston dehydrator does to meat. My mind tends to wander when I make jerky in a smoker and, while I’m otherwise occupied, I’ve occasionally turned strips of meat into something more like pretzels than jerky. Not going to happen in a dehydrator.

As it turns out, 6 hours wasn’t enough to get my sauce really dry. The Sriracha and two other hot sauces needed about 8 hours to remove all the moisture. The Unagi sauce was just a bad idea from the start. If you’re unfamiliar with Unagi or Eel sauce, it’s that sweet/salty/syrupy sauce that’s often drizzled over sushi rolls. The sweet part just made it stick to the foil and, after 10 hours, it was still rubbery.

I peeled the remaining three hot sauces off the foil. Parchment paper would have worked better. Even better still, Weston’s Silcone Baking Mats or Oven Liners would have made the process much easier. The dried sauces were processed in a mini-processor for the taste test, but I wanted it to be a little coarse for added texture. The Unagi sauce went into the garbage can.

The Sriracha tasted like Sriracha and has worked well when sprinkled over meat, fish and poultry. My friends are surprised when they get a little taste. “Wow, what is that red stuff?” My favorite was the Búfalo Salsa Clasica. You can usually find Búfalo (pronounced boo-fah-low) in grocery stores for not much more than one dollar. They have other flavors and I use them all.

I’ve since mixed Sriracha with lime juice and blended with coarse sea salt before placing in the Weston Food Dehydrator. Once dried, it makes for a great table seasoning, although it’s a little on the salty side. I actually had better results blending the dried Sriracha powder with sea salt for a less-salty blend. Hopefully, you’re now thinking, “You know, I wonder about dried ketchup, or mustard, or Tabasco or…?”  

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