Okayu (Japanese rice porridge) is a comforting dish of rice and water. It is easy to digest, so people in Japan commonly eat it when they have a cold, are recovering from an illness or don't have much of an appetite. It is also a popular baby food and served to the elderly. You may also find it on hotel breakfast buffet tables.
Compared to other countries' rice porridge, okayu is much thicker due to the water-to-rice ratio of 1-to-5. (Cantonese-style congee is 1-to-12.) This is a basic recipe to make plain okayu, but various ingredients such as chicken, salmon, eggs and vegetables like radishes can be added if desired. Also, sometimes okayu is cooked with stock instead of water to add flavor. But it is comforting and delicious made simply with a few toppings to choose from, such as green onion, sesame seeds and umeboshi (pickled apricots or plums).
- Wash Japanese rice and drain. Put 3 cups water and rice in a heavy-bottomed pot or earthenware pot. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Cover the pot, put it over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and cook the rice for about 30 minutes. Stop the heat, leave on the cover and let it steam for about 10 minutes.
- Put toppings into separate bowls. Season okayu with salt. Spoon into individual rice bowls and serve with toppings on the side.