Check It Out

No.168 (7/23/10)

Karasoude, Karakunai Sukoshi Karai Rayu “Looks very hot, but not so bad, and a little bit spicy, chili oil”

By Nao H. Kauffman
Chief Editor

When the weather is getting hot and humid, Japanese people like trying spicy foods such as spicy curry or spicy noodles. Eating spicy foods may enhance metabolism by sweating, or it can boost your appetite by increasing stamina because of the spices. Since the heat easily gets to us in Japan, such an eating habit has become very common. You often find limited spicy items on menus during the summer wherever you may go.

In 1920, a company called Momoya started their business by specializing in a variety of condiments, which are very close to the Japanese food culture. For example, processed items based on soy sauce, seaweed, or a dipping sauce that go well with rice or Japanese noodles; likewise, peanut butter and jelly are traditionally standard American food. Last year, Momoya started selling editable chili oil as in the photo shown; while regular chili oil called Raayu is just a red liquid sauce, which you can add to your foods. This one includes mainly crunchy garlic and other tasteful ingredients, which bring a unique texture and has become an enormous helper with cooking instead of just a flavor enhancement. Certainly, this handy and delicious item has gradually become more popular. Word of mouth quickly promoted the sales; as a result, demand is greater than supply. Incredibly, some people have never seen these items because they are always sold out at the market. Others are buying from auctions and paying higher prices than store prices. If you are lucky to find them in stock on the shelf, you will probably see a sign saying “limited to one per customer due to high demand.”

Before this crazy situation happened in the market, my friend brought one to me, telling me how lucky she was to purchase a few. In fact, I am not a big fan of spicy food, but I did try it recently. Now, I totally understand why people are crazy about this new item. Although another friend found a similar item from another company called S&B, she insisted it was not good as Momoya. Surprisingly, this Japanese crazy craving has also hit S&B.

Unfortunately, I have been not been able to find either of them yet. So, if you find one, it is worth trying. Put a spoonful over a bowl of freshly cooked white rice, mix with pasta or spread on your grilled steak. Coming up with your own ideas for using these items can certainly be enjoyable!

: canola oil, fried garlic, sesame oil, chili pepper, fried onion, chili miso paste, sugar, salt, paprika, graded sesame, onion powder, powdery soy sauce with flour, amino acid, and Antioxidant(Vitamin E)
S&B: canola oil, fried garlic, sesame oil, chili pepper, amino acid, salt, powdery soy sauce with flour, Chinese spicy paste, sugar, almond, onion powder, paprika, Antioxidant (Vitamin E)

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