Smith: Chili sauces bring more than heat | Food and Cooking

Which condiment do you grab? Sriracha, classic chili sauce or maybe a sweet red chili sauce? These are all examples of different kinds of chili sauce, some of which are excellent for dipping our favorite finger foods. Chili sauce is a blend of puréed or chopped chili peppers, vinegar, sugar and salt. Each type has their own unique taste that complements certain foods.

Chili sauce differs from a hot sauce in that chili sauces are thicker and may have pieces of ingredients intact. The classic chili sauce you find in a bottle at the grocery store is a thick red sauce made of tomatoes, garlic, sweet peppers, vinegar and high fructose corn syrup. It’s similar to ketchup, but a bit spicier or richer. It’s not commonly used for dipping. However, with a few additional ingredients, it makes a great barbecue sauce or topping for meatloaf. Sriracha is a thick sauce that packs the heat in many Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It’s made its way to the U.S. as a popular condiment for almost anything. Sweet red chili sauce, or Thai chili sauce, is made with bits of red chili peppers, rice vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and a thickener. It makes an excellent dip for spring rolls, egg rolls and chicken wings.

Chili sauces can greatly flavor our food. Of course, depending on the amount you use, the added sugar and sodium can start to add up. Modifying recipes can greatly reduce the amount of sugar and salt you consume. For example, in a recipe that calls for sweet red chili sauce and honey, try leaving out the honey since the chili sauce is already very sweet. In a recipe that calls for quite a bit of sriracha and salt, try leaving out the salt since sriracha is already salty.

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