Hmong people cannot live without pepper sauce. Hmong Pepper Sauce is essentially a part of every meal including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While other Asians cultures consume and enjoy pepper sauce, for the Hmong, life isn’t life without pepper sauce.
Hmong Pepper Sauce is a simple dip mainly used for meat, but can be used for anything else. The main ingredients are chopped cilantro, chopped baby-onion stalks, fish sauce, and fresh or dried Thai peppers, all mixed into a pepper-bowl.
Traditionally the Hmong people in poverty began to eat rice-in-water along with the main course, “hot pepper.” It was all the food that could be afforded. As livestock and agriculture grew, Hmong people just couldn’t give up the appetite of pepper sauce. It reminded the Hmong, how they suffered and how the Hmong overcame such hunger struggle. Pepper sauce became a symbol of the Hmong people.
Today, the Hmong people are the only ones who eat hot pepper sauce with every meal. Wake up in the morning and eat rice, eggs, sausages, and hot pepper sauce. During afternoon, a bowl of curry noodles is put on the table and yes, hot pepper sauce is poured into the curry noodles. Lastly for dinner: boiled chicken and rice, and again, hot pepper sauce for flavor (June Chua).
In the long run, the Hmong without Hmong Pepper Sauce is like Batman without Robin or Ernie without Burt. If you really want to know if someone is Hmong, just observe what they eat with every meal, and if it’s Hmong Pepper Sauce, most likely they are Hmong.