Okayu

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Okayu with an umeboshi on top

Recently, with the cold season in full swing and my baby being weaned, I find myself making a lot of okayu, which is the Japanese version of rice porridge or congee. Okayu is often given to the ill as it is easier to eat and digest than white rice. In fact, when I was in the hospital after giving birth in Japan, I was given okayu instead of white rice for the first few meals. Then, in a weaning class several months later, I was taught how to prepare okayu as it is the recommended first food for babies in Japan. (In case you’re wondering, this is what okayu as baby food looks like; the different colors come from the different foods that can be added into the okayu as the baby grows, like broccoli, white fish, kabocha, egg yolk, tofu, etc.) Some people also like to use okayu as a way to lose weight by simply replacing white rice with the lower-calorie okayu.

Here, I will describe the basic recipe for okayu.

Ingredients:
Japanese rice
Water
Salt
Optional toppings (e.g., umeboshi (pickled plum), spring onions, etc.)

There are several types of okayu, which differ according to the amount of rice and water used and the final ratio of gruel to liquid in the okayu. Here is a quick list:

  • zengayu
    1 rice : 5 water (this gives gruel without any extra liquid)
  • shichibugayu
    1 rice : 7 water (this gives okayu with a 7 gruel : 3 liquid ratio)
  • gobugayu
    1 rice : 10 water (this gives okayu with a 1 gruel : 1 liquid ratio)
  • sanbugayu
    1 rice : 20 water (this gives okayu with a 3 gruel : 7 liquid ratio)
Cooking okayu
Cooking okayu

Instructions:
– wash rice until the water runs clear.
– add the appropriate amount of water and heat on high while stirring occasionally to avoid clumping of the rice.
– once the water is boiling, allow to simmer covered on low heat for 30 mins.
– add salt as needed
– serve hot with or without any toppings

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