Wholesale Roasted Rapeseed Oil (Caiziyou)
Excess inventory sale! Sold as a case of 12 bottles
If you've ever been in or near a restaurant kitchen in Sichuan, then you know the distinct and delicious smell of caiziyou, the cooking oil of choice in southwest China. Made from roasted oil seeds, minimally processed, it has a natural dark-amber color and unique, vegetal smell. As Fuchsia Dunlop puts it in The Food of Sichuan, "It has a glorious, toasty aroma that adds an extra dimension to chili oil and all kinds of dishes."
"Caiziyou," roughly pronounced "sigh-zuh yo," simply means vegetable oil, and in Sichuan vegetable oil has traditionally meant rapeseed oil. Rapeseed is the unfortunate English name for Brassica napus, which is known as you cai in Mandarin and yu choy in Cantonese. Yu choy is one of the tastiest Chinese greens and also produces bright yellow flowers and an oil-rich seed.
Although rapeseed oil is one of the oldest edible oils in the world, some strains have a high percentage of toxic erucic acid, which is why Canada came up with a new, low-acid strain of the plant in the 1970s and called it canola, standing for Canada Oil, Low Acid. Later strains of canola were genetically modified to withstand Roundup, and GMO canola has come to dominate the world market. As is most cooking oil, canola is fully refined, bleached and deodorized to produce a neutral oil for North American tastes.
In contrast, this caiziyou from Chongqing is made from low-erucic-acid, non-GMO seeds and is expeller pressed instead of chemically processed. It is definitely not made to be neutral, as the seeds are roasted to accentuate the flavor and it retains its natural color, fragrance and taste.
Chefs in Sichuan generally use caiziyou when making chili oil, and say that it is necessary to heat caiziyou to its smoke point and then let it cool a bit before making chili oil, to tame the stronger notes of the oil. See our blog for step-by-step instructions on the unique method perfected for making chili oil in Sichuan.
Caiziyou is central to chili oil and the "red-oil" dressings made from it due not only to the fragrance and taste it imparts but also to its adhesive quality. At lower temperatures, caiziyou is more highly viscous and less runny than almost all other oils, meaning it clings to food and delivers flavor very effectively.
When stir-frying, we definitely follow the lead of Sichuan chefs and use caiziyou or half caiziyou and half rendered pork lard. (Pre-cooking is not necessary.) With that combination you've already got a wonderful base of flavor before you've even begun cooking.
Almost never seen in the U.S., this oil requires extra effort and cost to import. This brand of caiziyou is made by COFCO, one of China's largest, state-owned corporations and its largest producer of both canola-style and Sichuan-style rapeseed oils. Note that most of the packaging is in Chinese, and this page serves as the usage guide.
Store in a cool, dry place.
Producer: COFCO Grain and Oil Industry Co., LTD, Chongqing
Size: 12 bottles, 900 ml (30.4 ounces) each
Ingredients: non-GMO, expeller-pressed, roasted rapeseed oil
Best by: Feb. 16, 2023