Spicy Okinawa: 辛い

辛い!karai means “spicy!”

Japan is not really known for spicy stuff. I think most Japanese dislike spicy food for the most part. So if you love spicy foods, you need to look for some ways to kick it up a notch. I will introduce some pastes, sauces, etc that will add some spice to your life while in Okinawa. Everything is available at local grocery stores and markets.

コーレーグース koregusu: the quintessential Okinawa condiment, hot chili awamori. Read more here. All Okinawa shokudo will have this on one of the tables.

練り唐辛子 neri tougarashi: neri means “paste,” while tougarashi is chili pepper. This paste is really quite hot, sort of the paste equivalent of koregusu. The only ingredients are chili peppers, awamori, salt, and vinegar. A little goes a long way.

柚子胡椒 yuzu koshou: yuzu is a citrus, koshou is pepper. This is a green-yellow colored paste made of chili peppers, yuzu, and salt that is somewhat fermented. Not too spicy, but still packs a punch.

七味唐辛子: shichimi tougarashi, or just shichimi, is 7 spice powder. It is spicy-savory, and usully contains some combination of: red chili pepper, sansho (Japanese pepper), orange peel, black/white sesame, hemp seed, ginger, nori, shiso, and poppy seeds. It is really common to find this at most restaurants.

ラー油 ra-yu: this is spicy chili oil. 油 yu means “oil.” This is usually a chili-infused sesame oil. 食べるラー油 taberu ra-yu (literally “chili oil for eating”) is actually supposed to be reduced spiciness; it often will include bits of fried garlic or onion in it to add extra flavor. I saw ads recently for “ladies ra-yu” which is very little spiciness (more fried onions but no garlic so you won’t have stinky breath, maintaining you lovely lady image). Lol.