Taberu Layu: Japanese Chili Oil with Crunchy Fried Garlic
Have you ever heard that there are two major types of chili oil in Japan? One is the chili oil consisting solely of liquid that has been widely used across the country over a long period of time, while the other is the one with bits of food in it which has become popular in recent years.
The former type of Japanese chili oil is called “La-Yu (ラー油)”, which is a somewhat spicy liquid seasoning extracted from red chili pepper by heating in a pan of vegetable oil. We primarily use it as a seasoning or a condiment for Chinese dishes including Gyoza potstickers and Mapo Tofu.
Taberu Layu (食べるラー油)
On the other hand, we Japanese generally call another new type of chili oil “Taberu Layu (食べるラー油: literally Chili Oil meant for Eating)”, which is a little bit spicy, rather very savory seasoning oil with crunchy fried ingredients in it, such as fried garlic bits, fried chopped green onions, fried Myoga ginger, and fried bits of pork.
Actually, it is “Momoya (桃屋)”, a leading Japanese food company well-known for Nori seaweed products, that popularized Taberu Layu (Rayu). The Momoya’s signature Taberu Layu “辛そうで辛くない少し辛いラー油 (Karasode Karakunai Sukoshi Karai Layu)” put on the market in 2009, after which the product had been in short supply for quite a long time because of its great popularity.
Today, Taberu Layu has gained wide popularity in Japan and been produced by other large food companies too and comes in many different varieties. Thanks to the fried ingredients, Taberu Layu is less spicy and much more savory than the regular Japanese chili oil Layu and is considered a kind of appetizer.
As for the use. many Japanese people love to eat a hot bowl of white rice with Taberu Layu on top of it. Other than rice, the appetizing, savory food-containing chili oil actually works well with a variety of foods. So last, I will give some examples of how to use the chili oil Taberu Layu.
- The Japanese chili oil with crunchy fried garlic pairs well with cold tofu. Simply put it on top of the bean curd and eat them together
- Some Japanese like topping noodle soup, such as ramen and udon, with Taberu Layu. The savory chili oil can also be used as a seasoning in pasta dishes
- When cooking eggs, some Japanese home cooks like to add Taberu Layu and give the dish a savory touch
- Some Japanese like to eat even Natto with Taberu Layu
- Taberu Layu can also be used as a seasoning for sauteed food