My love of ramps has been well documented in the past. Ramp pesto, ramp kimchi, and sunchoke and ramp soup are just a few of the ways I’ve welcomed the coming of spring the past few seasons. So great is my obsession, that springtime in New York and the garlicky aroma of dew covered ramps have become synonymous.
Rather than blow through them all at once and be left with an unfulfilled craving until the next season, I decided to think of ways I could preserve them this year, so I could enjoy one of my favorite Alliums all year long. This taberu rayu, along with curried ramp pickles and ramp chutney were just a few of the uses I came up with for the eight pounds of ramps I picked.
Rayu (ラー油) is a chili oil used in Japanese-style Chinese food, and as a condiment for things such as ramen and gyoza. Taberu rayu literally means “rayu meant for eating”. Instead of a just chili oil, taberu rayu usually contains bits of garlic, onions, chili pepper and other seasonings to give it more body. It can be eaten on top of rice, mixed in with noodles, or even on top of tofu. It’s also a great way to start off fried rice.
While pondering what to do with my rather large haul of ramps this year, Pim from Chez Pim suggested that I turn some of them into taberu rayu. It was a great idea, and using the scallop taberu rayu I picked up on my last trip to Japan as inspiration, I got to work coming up with my version of this popular condiment.
While you can add just about anything you want to taberu rayu, the general rule is that the things added need to be dried out so that the oil will last without refrigeration. That said, I’ve found that it tastes better if you don’t fry the ramps until they are totally desiccated, so you can adjust the times to meet your needs.
(makes about 1 cup of chili oil)
- Add the vegetable oil ramp whites to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until until the onions begin to sizzle. Fry, stirring occasionally until the ramps are fragrant and starting to caramelize (about 10-15 minutes). Add the sesame oil, dried scallops, chili peppers, chili powder, soy sauce and sugar. Fry for another minute then remove from the heat.