a salmon tempura shrimp sushi roll

Best hot sauces for sushi (or poke)

If you’re a spicy tuna roll lover, you’ve come to the right place! Sushi + spicy is a popular combo that can be found on almost any sushi menu.

Japanese cuisine tends not to be particularly spicy, with a focus on whole, fresh ingredients. Wasabi is a well-known spicy ingredient often paired with sushi, but adding hot sauce is a popular way for Americans to increase the heat on Japanese food and sushi.

Here are a few hot sauces you can add to kick it up a notch, and other ways to make sushi spicier.

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Hot sauces to add to sushi

1. Sriracha

The most obvious hot sauce to add to sushi is Sriracha (or a generic version if the Huy Fong brand can’t be found). It’s commonly used to top rolls, mixed with salmon or tuna, and as an ingredient in spicy mayo.

2. Gochujang

Twist up a delicious Korean-Japanese fusion by adding a gochujang-based hot sauce to your sushi. Made from fermented chili peppers, it has a slightly sweet and savory flavor and is often used as a condiment or a marinade.

Gochujang is not a specific brand of hot sauce, but an ingredient often found in Korean-inspired sauces. Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha is a popular pick combining both of our favorite sushi hot sauces into a single sauce. bibigo is another popular brand of gochujang hot sauce that perfectly complements sushi!

3. Sambal oelek

Sambal oelek is another extremely popular option when it comes to adding spice to your sushi takeout order. Hailing from Indonesia, sambal oelek uses ground cayenne or bird’s eye chilies, salt, and acetic acid, and is also popular in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines.

Luckily it’s easy to find — you’ll usually find it in the “Asian” or international aisle of your grocery store or at local Asian specialty markets. You can also find sambal oelek online. The most popular brand of sambal oelek is Huy Fong, the same maker of the classic Sriracha. However, sambal oelek is strictly spicy and tangy — it doesn’t contain sugar or garlic, which gives Sriracha its classic flavor.

4. Garlic chili sauce

Garlic chili sauce is one of my favorite ways to add heat to sushi. This Vietnamese-inspired hot chili sauce has a similar flavor palette to Sriracha, but its lack of sugar makes it distinctly sharper in flavor. Again, Huy Fong is a leading brand of garlic chili sauce.

How to use hot sauce with sushi

There are a number of ways you can use your favorite hot sauce to make sushi spicier. In fact, your favorite sushi roll may already use some.

Mix it with your favorite raw fish

Most rolls or poke bowls with “spicy” in the name already use hot sauce in the filling. Spicy tuna and spicy salmon filling, for example, are usually a combination of raw sushi-grade fish, Sriracha, sesame oil, and green onions.

Top your roll or bowl

Try drizzling hot sauce over your sushi roll or poke bowl. Many sushi rolls you can order from restaurants already have a Sriracha drizzle!

Mix it with mayo

Spicy mayo is a popular sauce for both sushi and poke. It typically consists of two ingredients: mayonnaise and hot sauce, and can use any of the hot sauces mentioned above.

Use it as a dip

If you like, you can dip your sushi roll or sashimi in your favorite hot sauce. Most sushi restaurants will offer free soy sauce for dipping. You can also ask them for hot sauce if you prefer to eat your sushi spicy. Most will add it for no additional charge.

There are an infinite number of ways you can add spice to your next sushi takeout order, and the best way to do it depends on your personal preferences! Add your favorite Asian-inspired hot sauce, or simply enjoy your sushi with flaming-hot wasabi.

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