La-yu is chili oil that contains chopped chili pepper in sesame oil and it is often used to spice up ramen or gyoza in Japan.
It is made with hot oil, spring onion, chili pepper and other spices. These are fried and boiled which gives flavour to the oil. The spring onions and chili is then removed from the oil. The result is Japanese style la-yu which is slightly reddish in colour.
In China, the ingredients that are cooked in the oil to give it flavour are kept and sold in the oil as the finished product.
Just after the millennium, la-yu hit the Japanese headlines as a Chinese man who lives on one of the Okinawan islands made Chinese style la-yu using Okinawan ingredients. It had Piper retrofractum (a long pepper), brown sugar and other ingredients sold in the oil. It became popular and in 2009, Momoya - a Japanese food company - started making their own variant named 'taberu la-yu' - which translates to 'la-yu for eating'. It became a common condiment in the Japanese home. Due to its popularity, Japanese supermarkets could not keep up with the demand and it was sold out for a while.
It is referred to as 'la-yu for eating' due to containing chunks of fried garlic and onion which tastes great when adding to rice and other dishes. It can still be added to ramen, but with taberu la-yu, you can put it on pretty much anything. You can of course put it on any Japanese food such as yakisoba, tofu, but it also works great on chips, cream cheese and other western food too.
Top tips using la-yu:
Be creative and try la-yu on your dishes today!