I don’t have the habit of praising factory-made sauces or condiments, but when I discovered taberu rayu, I have instantly fallen in love. This Japanese condiment is sold in tiny jars filled half with chili oil, half with a crunchy mixture of fried garlic, sesame seeds and chili and it goes well with almost every dish I tested (not only Japanese). Since me and my husband are both addicted to this rather expensive sauce, I thought I should try reproducing it at home. I had no idea what to start with, so I turned for help to Robert-Gilles, my blogging friend from Shizuoka (Shizuoka Gourmet). Robert-Gilles has already saved me from many culinary troubles (daikon leaves rice topping is one of the best examples) and here he was once more extremely kind, generous and helpful. In short, as if by magic, the taberu rayu recipe appeared the following day on his blog!
As Robert-Gilles has written here, taberu rayu (食べるラー油) appeared in 2009 in Okinawa as a modified version of chili oil, originating from China. The name means literally “chili oil for eating” probably because, as I have mentioned above, a part of the condiment is solid. My Japanese grocers sell two types of taberu rayu: one contains dried garlic and the other both dried garlic and dried shrimp. Since I find the former version more versatile, I have left out the shrimp in this first experiment. The recipe proved quite easy (although I did burn the first batch of fried garlic…), rather quick and the result was surprisingly close to the “original” condiment. Home-made taberu rayu is hot and slightly sweet. It has a pleasant crunch due to the sesame seeds and garlic, combined with the stickiness of gochujang (Korean chili paste) and a wonderful bright red colour. Maybe because it lacks artificial after-taste, I find it even more addictive than the factory-made version. Thank you so much, Robert-Gilles, for this extraordinary recipe and for your kind help!
TIP: If you don’t find gochujang (Korean chili paste), you will find a recipe also on Shizuoka Gourmet blog. You can substitute it here with a bigger amount of chili flakes and a bit more sugar, but the texture will be different.
Preparation: 30-40 minutes
Ingredients (fills a 200 ml jar):
100 ml canola oil (or another oil with a neutral taste)
50 ml sesame oil
1 dried chili
3 thick slices of fresh ginger
10 cm piece of leek
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
2 heaped tablespoons Korean chili powder (or half of it if you don’t like very hot seasonings)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar (I used agave syrup)
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
(about 2 tablespoons dried shrimps, chopped)
5 big garlic cloves, finely chopped (or roughly mixed in a food processor)
1/2 onion, finely chopped (or roughly mixed in a food processor)
First prepare fried onion and fried garlic.
Heat some oil in a small pan and when it’s hot enough to fry the garlic (a bit of garlic thrown into the oil will stay at the surface, the oil will start bubbling around and instantly frying it), throw delicately the chopped garlic and take out as soon as it is slightly golden. It will take about one minute or less. Drain the excess oil on paper towel and put aside.
Filter the oil and fry the onion in the same way. It will take more time (a couple of minutes). Drain the excess oil on paper towel and put aside.
In a metal bowl combine the sesame seeds, (the shrimp), the chili powder and 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
Pour the remaining sesame oil and canola oil into a pan. Add the ginger, the leek and one dried chili.
Fry at low heat for a couple of minutes.
Take out the vegetables and heat the oils until they start smoking.
At this point pour slowly, stirring, the hot oils into the sesame and chili paste.
Add the remaining ingredients, stir well, put into a jar and keep for one month at room temperature.