Among all the rich amount of Japanese healthy dishes, Japanese Okayu お粥 (rice porridge) is the best one to cook when we feel tired or sick. With his light taste and energy power, is the perfect solution for a quick recovery!
When a family member is sick, it’s a tradition here in Japan to offer him Okayu (お粥), in hopes that it will help him feel better soon.
Yo was the one who first introduced me to this custom, but I admit I’ve also seen it in many romantic anime, usually with a cute girl cooking it for the guy she’s in love with.
Yes, preparing Okayu for someone is a real sign of love. A way to wish a quick recovery to the sick person, through a warm and delicately flavored dish.
And let me tell you, as a sick person who received it in the past, it does not only makes you feel loved but, perhaps due to a sort of placebo effect, it also makes you easily feel better.
The term Okayu お粥 refers to a porridge made with water and rice.
Why is the perfect dish when you don’t feel 100%? Simply because is made of few ingredients, with low-fat content and high energy value, which fill the stomach and are easy to digest. For this reason is not just served to sick persons, but also to the elderly and babies who are slowly starting to eat solid food.
Compared to Chinese, Korean, or Taiwanese rice porridge ( porridge is a very popular dish in Asia) Japanese Okayu is slightly thicker with a 1:5 ratio of rice to water, but please don’t take this information too strictly. Being a “home-cook” style dish, every family here in Japan has its own way of cooking it.
My favorite version is the original one, made of simply rice, water, a bit of dashi, and of course the unmissable umeboshi with its delicious sour-umami flavor, but there are also other different preparations which combine taste and textures.
You can find Okayu made with fish, meat (especially chicken), eggs or vegetables, all ingredients that make keep the lightness of the dish, and make it more also more nutritious.
The version I am showing you today is made with spinach, turnips, leeks, and of course umeboshi!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
[for two serving]
(Please consider that besides water and rice the quantity of the ingredients is just an estimation. You can use the amount that you want according to your taste)
Let’s start with rice! Wash it many times until the water is clean, drain and place in a saucepan with water, salt, and dashi (remember the proportion of rice: water should be around 1:5). While we wait that the water comes to boil, wash your vegetables and cut them into small pieces (I love to feel the texture of turnips so I cut them in cubes, but you can also slice them thing if you prefer more smooth results).
When the water starts boiling, set the fire to the lowest temperature, mix everything with the help of a spoon, add your veggie (without the umeboshi) and keep cooking with the lid for about 30 min.
Important: to don’t burn your porridge, heat must be to the lowest setting and you shouldn’t open the lid or you will lose steams that are slowly cooking your rice.
After 30 mins, turn the heat down and let it rest (with the lid on) for the others 5 mins. The more you let it rest, the more the porridge will get thicker as the starch is released from the rice.
Serve it still warm, with the steam coming out of rice and a colorful and delicious umeboshi on top!
So, if you are not 100% of your energy, eat Okayu, take a rest and you will feel better!
If you like Okayu, you will also love: NANAKUSA GAYU 七 草 粥 – THE 7 HERBS PORRIDGE