Japanese hot sauce

Japan isn’t commonly known for its hot sauces. Instead, the Japanese prefer to use chili oils. These oils aren’t always as thick as hot sauces, and it means they’re better used as dipping condiments or mixed into Japanese dishes to add a kick.

Rayu is a popular chili oil that originates from Japan. It’s created from chili peppers and vegetable oil and is used as a dipping sauce for gyoza.

History of Japanese Hot Sauce

Even though rayu is a Japanese chili oil, it has roots going back to Chinese history. The Japanese took inspiration from Chinese chili oils such as Sichuan to create their own version known as rayu. Chili oil has been used in China for centuries and its popularity grew from chefs experimenting with the sauce and using it in their dishes. 

Over time, rayu has become a popular part of Japanese cuisine with new variations cropping up. Most recently, there’s been taberu rayu, which first took off in 2009. It’s like standard rayu but has slightly more crunch. It features more ingredients such as garlic, fried onion, sesame seeds and almonds. This variation gives a thicker consistency and adds extra flavorings.

Even though it’s a new sauce, it soon became popular and in such a short period has become commonly used across Japan [1].

Popular Brands of Chili Oil

White Mausu

White Mausu stock a wide range of chili oils that can be kept in your store cupboard and used at any time. You can choose from either peanut or black bean rayu. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous with your food, then they also have an extra hot peanut rayu.

The peanut rayu is the original White Mausu chili oil. It’s been created from crispy garlic, roasted peanuts, sesame oil and Korean chili flakes [2]. It’s an everyday condiment that can go with anything from stir-fries to pasta.

S&B La-Yu Chili Oil

This chili oil has been created from sesame oil and the spicy taste comes from chili seasoning. S&B have had the chili flakes filtered out so that you’re left with a smooth chili oil to drizzle over any food dish.

You can use this chili oil by adding it to a variety of dishes such as soups, noodles, vegetables and meats. If you mix it with some soy sauce and rice vinegar, then you’ll be able to create a tasty dip for gyoza.

This chili oil has been made with a low number of ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about it being unhealthy. The main ingredients in this rayu are sesame oil, corn oil, chili pepper extract and paprika [3].

Yuzu Kosho

Yuzu Kosho is known for being more of a chili paste. You can, however, add oil to it and create a delicious Japanese hot sauce. Yuzu Kosho is a Japanese condiment made from green chili peppers. It’s fermented with salt and yuzu juice, which is an Asian citrus fruit. The yuzu is what gives this paste its tangy taste and makes it go well with meats and fish.

This chili paste is often used as a marinade for meats or as a salad dressing. You can mix it with water to create a fresh taste for your salad [4].

Health Benefits and Nutritional Value

There are many health benefits that come from eating Japanese rayu. A main advantage that comes from eating it is that it can prevent cancer. This is down to the fact that chili oil helps to boost your immunity and fight any cells that might harm the body. It also has lots of vitamin A and C. These vitamins help to give your body and immune system a boost.

Capsaicin is another ingredient found in chili peppers that can also help to fight cancerous cells. Even though chili oil is eaten in small amounts, the more we eat, the more it will help to keep us healthy.

Thanks to chili peppers having anti-inflammatory properties, they can also help to lower symptoms of redness that comes with skin diseases such as psoriasis. For this to work, you should mix the chili peppers with some aloe vera and apply the mixture to the skin.

Chili oil will also increase your metabolism and help with weight loss. It helps by making sure any fat is digested properly. Also, thanks to its high amount of heat, when you eat anything with chili oil, it tricks your body into thinking it’s full, even when it’s not. This is because your body doesn’t want to keep eating anything too spicy and tries to make it stop.

The nutritional value of chili oil is also high. It’s known for being low in calories and fats and high in vitamins and minerals [5].

Cooking with Japanese Rayu

Rayu is a versatile chili oil that can be added to just about any meal. Popular dishes to add it to include stir-fries, stews and soups. It’s also commonly used as a dipping sauce for gyoza which is traditional Japanese dumplings. It can also add spice to any Western dishes such as pasta or drizzled-over pizzas. If you want to add flavor to meat, then it can also be used as a marinade.

It’s also easy to create your own rayu chili oil. To make the original version of rayu, all you’ll need is:

  • 1 tablespoon of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped scallions
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-star anise
  • ¾ cup of sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of ichimi togarashi
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese red pepper flakes
  • A pinch of salt

You should start by adding the ginger, garlic, scallions, cinnamon and star anise to a pan. Add half of the oil then put on low heat and allow to simmer for three to five minutes. You should then turn off the heat and add the rest of the oil, the ichimi togarashi and the pepper flakes to the pan. Add your salt and then leave until the oil mixture has cooled. Once the oil has cooled, you can add it to a jar and it’s ready to use [6].

With its Chinese roots, Japanese rayu has come a long way over the years. It’s now a popular chili oil that’s used across the world. Its popularity mainly comes from how versatile the oil is to use. It can be used as a dipping sauce in Japanese dishes such as gyoza, but it can also be added to Western dishes to give a flavorsome kick. If you’re on the hunt for a chili oil that can go with just about any food, then why not give rayu a go?


[6] Phelps, C. “Homemade Rayu – Japanese Chili Oil.” Pickled Plum, no date.

[1] Mochi, Miss. “Taberu Rayu.” Miss Mochi, 2014.

[2] White Mausu. “6 Peanut Rayu.” White Mausu.

[3] Japan Centre. “S&B La-Yu Chilli Oil.” Japan Centre.

[4] Goldberg, E. “Meet Yuzu Kosho, the Secret Weapon Condiment Chefs Are Putting on Everything.Bon Appétit, 2016.

[5] Gandhi, M. “Health Benefits of Chilli Oil + Side Effect.” Mavcure, 2018.

[6] Phelps, C. “Homemade Rayu – Japanese Chili Oil.” Pickled Plum.

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