Sriracha, that red Asian-inspired hot chili sauce whose green-capped squeeze bottle with a rooster printed on it, is more than just a means of spicing up a dish — Asian or otherwise. Like bacon, this iconic hot sauce has garnered praise from all over the culinary spectrum, and it has been elevated to having cult status by the power of Internet-fueled fandom. But can the popularity of Sriracha go too far? I mean, would you put Sriracha hot chili sauce on your sweet and creamy milkshake?
That’s just what the people at GO Burger did. The folks at this burger joint with locations in New York and L.A. not only pride themselves on their tasty burgers, but also on their weekly rotating milkshake specials. Recently they invented the Fiery Berry Crumble, a milkshake with strawberry ice cream, milk, crumbled graham crackers and Sriracha. It’s topped off with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and a garnish of cayenne pepper.
“One of our directors is from Hong Kong, and Sriracha is a huge staple of Chinese condiments,” said Hung Tran, a manager at GO Burger’s Upper East Side location in New York City. “Hence the creation of this East meets West dessert.”
What he really meant was that it was a Far East meets Upper East dessert, because introducing a spicy, peculiar milkshake in a Manhattan neighborhood not known to be particularly edgy came with varied results. “Some feel it has a distinct taste that is very unique to what their palette is used to,” he told me. “Some others however, are not fond of that uniqueness.” I was of the former group.
Final Verdict: 4 (out of 5) stars. I’m probably biased with that rating because I already enjoy spicy Asian food. However, I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive before trying out the Fiery Berry Crumble; Sriracha may be good with hot dumplings, but in a cold milkshake?
What we have here is a strangely harmonious blending of different flavors in the taste spectrum: the fruity sweetness of strawberries, the mild saltiness of the graham cracker, the savory spiciness of Sriracha’s chilies, all of which are brought together by the creaminess of ice cream. Sweet and salty have become quite a popular pairing in creamy desserts these days, but add in a little heat and you have something truly unique.
The taste upon first sip is a little weird, but once you get used to the fusion of flavors in your mouth, you just want more of it — especially if you’re pairing the shake with a slider topped with jalapeños. The texture of the graham cracker pieces and the chunks of strawberries also blend in nicely — the shake is served with a big straw so they just come up into your mouth — and they’re soft enough that you don’t have to spend a lot of effort chewing. In the end, you have a delicious milkshake unlike one you may have had before.
Sadly, the Fiery Berry Crumble milkshake is gone from GO Burger’s milkshake rotation. But I’m sure if you asked them nicely for one, they’d make one for you (like they did for me) — assuming they have the proper ingredients in stock. Or you could try to make it at home. Just make sure you get real Sriracha hot chili sauce; any other hot sauce won’t make your shake as cult-worthy.
Erik Trinidad is the author of Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended, based off his popular food humor blog, fancyfastfood.com.