Hot and spicy, Rayu (also known as layu) is one of Japan’s best kept condiment secrets. Found in every Japanese home, this Japanese hot oil is super easy to make. Perfect for ramen, gyoza, yakisoba, salad or just about any savory dish, learn this rayu recipe today and spice up your favourite dishes, Japanese style!
When I think of spice, I think Japanese rayu. I just love it! If you are looking for spicing up regular meals or after a spice umami hit, this rayu’s for you.
Of course, homemade is always better than shop bought. This rayu chili oil is no exception, and this Japanese hot and spicy sauce is super easy to make at home! I always have some in the fridge.
A common Japanese rayu oil you find at shops is from S&B, a Japanese spices and condiment producer. Their rayu series are everywhere in Japan and overseas.
Their spicy chili oil is sold in a tiny bottle. I found myself buying it often and thought it can’t be too hard to make rayu at home. So I tried and tested a few approaches and this rayu recipe is my new favourite spice addition to so many dishes!
Taberu rayu or regular rayu
In last ten years, taberu rayu has become super popular. Taberu means eat in Japanese, and so taberu rayu literary means ‘rayu for eating’.
Taberu rayu is crunchy and made with fried garlic, onions, almond slices and green onions, combined with the oil while less chili powder is added.
Regularly rayu is simply made of Japanese chili infused in oil. Our Japanese rayu recipe is an authentic and easy version.
This chili oil recipe is oxidized after heat is added for cooking. As a result it doesn’t last for many months and so I make it regularly. So homemade rayu should be easy to make. So read on to bring some spice to your cooking!
Bring joy in your life and share it with loved ones. Read on!
What is rayu?
Rayu (also known as ra yu or la yu) is Japanese chili oil. It’s one of the most popular spicy condiments in Japan. Traditionally rayu is a chili infused sesame oil. It’s enjoyed for various types of dishes in Japanese cuisine.
How to use rayu
This super condiment is highly versatile. You can simply add a few drops on just about any savory dish. It’s spicy, so if you’re not used to spice in your cooking you really don’t need much! The most popular ways to use it are for ramen and as a gyoza dipping sauce.
Ramen & gyoza
Also I use rayu chili oil for salad. This smashed cucumber salad is so refreshing and includes rayu. It’s mixture of chili and acid with ponzu sauce. You can try it with Asian slaw or Asian salad dressing.
When I am too busy or not wanting to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I season tofu with it. Simply drop some on it with soy sauce, grated ginger and spring onion. A simple tofu turns into a highly appetizing dish with a few drops of it.
For more ideas spice up your plates with rayu:
- fried egg sandwich
- onigiri (rice bowls)
- vegetable yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodle)
- fried vegetables
Best oil to use
I tried different vegetable oils and have found canola oil (rapeseed oil) works well. Canola helps to infuse the chili flavour and spiciness into sesame oil. Also it doesn’t solidify while storing in the fridge.
Canola’s smoke point is 400 F degree (205 C degree) and is higher than sesame oil. Smoke point is a temperature at which it starts making smoke. I’ll show you when to stop adding heat before the oil hits the smoke point.
Ingredients for rayu
Sesame oil: Traditionally we use sesame oil. Use toasted sesame oil. Unlike untoasted yellow coloured sesame oil, the colour is much darker. The fragrance is much richer. It’s better to taste.
Ichimi togarashi (Japanese chili powder): I use Japanese chili, ichimi. It’s super spicy. You can easily find this red pepper flakes product at a Japanese or Asian store. Korean or Thai chili powder can work as a Japanese chili substitute.
Bay leave gives a strong flavour to the oil and it helps to see the right temperature for cooking chili powder.
Paprika: I use paprika for the flavour and colouring. S&B uses it too.
How to make rayu
It’s all about transferring chili flavour and taste into sesame oil. Adding the heat helps this process, but we need to control the temperature. Otherwise it’ll burn the chili and lose the flavour completely.
So first, you add heat to canola oil and combine with chili powder. But then how can you know the right temperature for canola if you don’t have an oil thermometer?
The solution is to use a bay leaf. It’s perfect to add some flavour into the oil. Also it tells when is the oil has reached the right temperature. When you see a bay leave colour changes, the oil has reached the right temperature.
Let’s get started! Put a bay leaf to canola, and add low heat. The oil will start cooking the bay leave. The colour is slightly changing. It takes about two minutes. Turn off the heat, add chili powder and cook in the pan with the heat off.
Avoid burning the red chili powder. We need beautifully red colour oil.
Allow the canola oil and chili powder mix to cool down. Then add sesame oil and paprika. Sesame oil loses its rich flagrance and flavour when heated too much. Avoid this.
That’t it! Serve immediately or save it for another use. Enjoy!
How to save rayu
Make sure the oil has cooled down. Transfer it into an airtight glass jar, and keep it in the fridge for a month.
More recipes for cooking basics:
Japanese Chili Oil Recipe
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons teaspoons ichimi togarashi (Japanese chili powder) (or Korean or Thai chili powder)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- Place canola oil and a bay leaf in a small pan and add low heat.
- Cook until small bubbles are coming up, and the bay leaf is just about changing colour. Then turn off the heat.
- Use a spoon, and sprinkle some chili powder over the heated oil. Check that it’s not burning the powder. If it’s burning (turning a brownish colour), wait for a little bit before adding the rest of the chili powder. Use a spoon and combine the mix. Make sure the spoon is clean and is not wet.
- Allow the mix to cool down. It takes about ten minutes. Once its cooled down, combine with sesame oil and paprika powder.That's it! Serve with your favourite savory dish. Enjoy!