Rice Porridge Recipe (Okayu) お粥

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Rice Porridge (Okayu) | Just One Cookbook.com

At this time of the year when the weather is cold and flu season is around, my children usually take turns to bring some bugs home from school and last week was my daughter’s turn.  She was feeling under the weather with high fever and coughs, so I decided to make some warm Japanese Rice Porridge (Okayu) for her.

Rice Porridge (Okayu) | Just One Cookbook.com

Rice Porridge, or we call it Okayu (お粥), is a simple dish made from just rice and water.  As the rice is very soft and easily digestible, rice porridge in Japan is commonly known as a food served to people who are recovering from sickness, the elderly, or babies.

Compared to other countries where rice porridge is eaten, Japanese rice porridge is much thicker.  A rice-to-water ratio is 1 : 5 for typical rice porridge (we call it zen-gayu), compared to 1 : 12 for a Cantonese-style congee.  Japanese rice porridge recipe can be made much quicker than the Chinese congee and we also don’t seem to eat porridge as frequently as the Chinese do as a regular meal.

Rice Porridge (Okayu) | Just One Cookbook.com

Sometimes the rice porridge is cooked in dashi stock, chicken stock, or miso to flavor the broth.  If you like, salmon, egg, or vegetables can be added to the rice porridge.  However, I made today’s rice porridge very basic and plain without any modification so you can enjoy it with optional toppings on the side.

Rice Porridge (Okayu) | Just One Cookbook.com

By the way, I have received this beautiful gift from Akazuki.  The set includes 2 rice bowls and 2 tea cups and it’s a perfect gift for a couple!  Their Tetsubin (cast iron tea pot) is now on sale for $22, and if you need a set of 2 Chawanmushi cups, there are a few that are on sale for $10!

Right now everything is 10% off on their website if you use the promotional code “JUSTONECOOKBOOK“.  Have fun shopping!


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Rice Porridge (Okayu)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1
  • 50 gram uncooked premium short grain rice (a little less than ¼ cup or 4 Tbsp.)
  • 250 ml water
You will also need
  • Small donabe (earthenwere pot) or any heavy bottomed pot (See Note 1)
Toppings of your choice
  • Shredded Japanese Salted Salmon
  • Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum)
  • Chopped scallions
  • Shredded nori seaweed + white sesame seeds
  • Mitsuba for garnish
  1. Rinse the rice in water, then drain. Repeat until the water runs clear.
  2. Soak the rice in the pot for at least 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, drain water completely.
  4. Then add 250 ml of water into the pot.
  5. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  6. When boiling, lower the heat to the stove’s lowest setting (make sure to use the right size of stove burner for your pot size). Open the lid and gently mix with the spoon once, making sure rice is not stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Cover the lid (See Note 2) and simmer the rice for 30 minutes. During this time, I never open the lid or mix the rice (See Note 3).
  8. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let it steam for 10 minutes. The rice should be soft and thickened. If you want to add something, like a beaten egg or salt, this is the time to add. Today I didn’t add anything and kept it simple. Serve into individual rice bowl and garnish and put toppings of your choice.
1: With the heavy bottomed pot, the heat is not as direct or strong as regular pot, so you can cook rice evenly.

2: With having 1:5 rice-to-water ratio, good size pot, and the lowest heat on the stove, water doesn’t boil over. However if you cook with more water or your pot is smaller, you may want to cover the lid at a slight angle so the water doesn’t boil over.

3: If you are worried, you can quickly peek and make sure there’s enough water so the rice doesn’t burn the bottom of the pot. If necessary, you can stir the pot or add “hot” water. Otherwise, don’t touch the rice because you would end up breaking the nice shape of rice kernels.


Rice-Water Ratio

Zen-gayu – 1 : 5 (50 grams : 250 ml)

Shichibu-gayu – 1 : 7 (50 grams : 350 ml)

Gobu-gayu – 1 :10 (50 grams : 500 ml)

Sanbu-gayu – 1 : 20 (25 grams : 500 ml)


Using Cooked Rice

Add rice and 2-3 times water in the pot. Cook stirring over medium low heat. Adjust the consistency by adding more water.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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  1. I love okayu with umeboshi! (I used to make it in my rice cooker when I lived in Japan… and not just when I was sick, either!)

    I didn’t know that okayu had different names depending on the rice-water ratio, though. Thank you for always including so many interesting facts (beyond just the recipes) on your blog!

    • Hi Jeff! Maybe my choice of words “people who are ill” might sound “deathly ill”. Sorry I didn’t know how to describe, but I changed to “people who are recovering from sickness”. Maybe sound better? :) Thank you!

  2. I love simple foods. We call it “arisi kanji” in my mother tongue. A bowl of rice cooked in water and little salt for taste. We top it with pickled lemons. This is the food we take on days when are down with cold/flu.

  3. What a lovely dish to help your daughter feel better while suffering from the icky flu. And versatile enough to be dressed up by those who are feeling more up to enjoying a hearty meal.

    The china set is gorgeous and I checked out the chawanmushi cups as well. Sounds like a great deal. I was amazed that they’d ship to Canada for a flat $5.95.

  4. Janice

    What a coincidence. I made rice porridge this morning with dried scallops and gingko nuts; a version my mom taught me. You’re right, about the Chinese eating porridge frequently…I grew up eating it every Sunday as a part of my family’s Cantonese-style brunch! I would love to try this with the umeboshi or flavored with dashi or miso. Thanks for sharing, Nami!

    • Hi Janice! Ohh dried scallops! My mother-in-law left some dried scallops and I can put them in next time…they are somewhere in the fridge right now. =P I learned about Chinese congee culture after I met my husband. I remember I told him and his friends how they could eat congee so often! For me, it’s still the food when you are sick… :) Thank you for your comment!

  5. Oh, so sorry to hear your little one was not well. It’s so sad when kids get sick. This looks like a nutritious and gentle meal for anyone no feeling well.

  6. I eat rice porridge very regularly because I just love it! So comforting and satisfying. I seldom have exact water to rice ratio when cooking porridge cos if I want it thinner and it does not have thin consistency during cooking, then I will add more water. So I usually start with less water and add more accordingly. Recently I have been using millet for cooking porridge and love it too. Sometimes I just add ground chicken, veggies and egg into the porridge and it becomes a meal.

    Hope your daughter is much better right now. Take care. My hb also just recovered from the flu (though he has taken the flu shot much earlier) and during that time, I cooked a lot of porridge and soups.

  7. I had okayu during a hospital stay in Japan. They fed it to me morning, noon and night for a week. I couldn’t stand it by the time I got out and swore I was never going to go near it again. But wouldn’t you know it…the next time I got sick, the only thing I wanted was okayu! I felt as though eating that would make everything ok again…and it did! :)

    • Hi Andi! Your story was very sweet! How funny you craved for it after you felt so sick and tired of it! I can’t think of it now but I’m sure I have that kind of food. :) Thank you so much for your comment!

    • Hi Nekona! You did! :) I’m glad you found something you like from the site. The owner of the shop is very nice, and hope you enjoy shopping at the store! :)

    • Hi Jhiselle! This kind of pot is called “donabe” or clay pot. You can find it in Asian or Japanese supermarkets or shops. You can usually find 2 kinds, big one and small one like this. Or you can find on Amazon.

  8. Aya

    Ahh, okayu is to the Japanese like chicken soup is to the North American. It’s the best comfort food for me when I’m sick or need something bland for my stomach.It was also good when I had all of my wisdom teeth pulled at the same time.

    When I recently visited China, I was served congee, which is similar. I was very interested to try the various side dishes (for toppings), which gave it very different flavors than the typical Japanese okayu I am accustomed to.

    • Hi Aya-san! Thank you for your kind comment! Have you seen the congee cart that goes around during dim sum? They have different kinds of toppings to choose too. I never thought of eating it when I’m healthy until I met my husband (Taiwanese American)… lol.

  9. S. Howard

    You posted it! Thank you so much! I have my eye on a nice donabe, at my local “Asian Market” store, and I want to try making this in it. Friday is shopping day, so now, with the recipe, I am completely ready! Hooray :)

  10. Interesting – I didn’t realize that porridge had such a high ratio of water to rice. This does sounds like a wonderful bowl of wellness for someone under the weather. I’m a huge fan of cooking rice in stock so this sounds perfect to me cook in chicken stock. I know when I’m sick, I love a bowl of chicken stock with some noodles. So why not rice next time? :) Love the set of bowls and tea cups! I’ll have to check them out on the website. Hope your daughter is feeling better!

  11. Kimmi

    I hope your daughter feels better soon. I’m sure she did after tasting your lovely rice porridge! My mom would always make me rice porridge when I got sick as a child, and we always topped it off the dish with pickled cabbage (jiang gua).

    Thanks for sharing the recipe; it’s definitely making me crave some warm porridge during this winter season!

    • Hi Kimmi! Thank you for your well wishes for my daughter. She’s getting better – she just has occasional coughs. :) the pickled cabbage sounds delicious. Pickles always go well with rice! Thank you for your kind comment!

  12. I grew up eating (or is it sipping) rice porridge. Since I’m Chinese, we like rice porridge with pork floss (not sure how else it is called) or with egg (although I think this is Filipino style). My dad is a master rice porridge maker – hahaha! Yes, this is perfect for flu season!

  13. Nami, certainly hope that you daughter is feeling much better but seeing this wonderful Rice Pudding that you so lovingly prepared for her (with all the interesting toppings), I am sure that she will feel better very soon! The presentation looks wonderful, I love the serving bowl with the lid and the wooden spoon – it looks very “warm” and comforting! I have made many rice puddings before but never savory ones, ours are alwys more on the sweet side, my kids love cinnamon sugar as a topping (but that is a whole different story).
    All the very best for a speedy recovery for your daughter!

  14. Susan

    I have 2 small and 1 large donabe pot as a wedding gift 27 yrs ago. I just display them, what a waste! Lol, anyway the Filipino dish similar to this is arrozcaldo made with rice, chicken, garlic, and ginger. We can top it with fried garlic, green onions, and sometimes a squeeze of calamansi. We eat it anytime but some people like to eat it when they have a cold or flu.

    • Hi Susan! In winter time we use donabe a lot for our hot pot. Donabe keeps the food warm and it’s very comforting feeling to see donabe on the table. :) Thank you for sharing how Filipino eat arrozcaldo! Sounds really delicious!

  15. Nami, this looks so attractive and tempting, I cannot believe it’s just porridge… Porridge made from any grain brings back bad childhood memories (I have never liked it), so I think I might be convinced only tasting one made by such an excellent cook as you :-)
    The bowls look extremely beautiful. I will check if they ship to Europe.

  16. i don’t really like plain porridge with condiments usually.. but yours looks so enticing, I wouldn’t mind some at all ^^ sick or not! hope your daughter feels better already with the tlc porridge ^^

  17. Tell me about flues and viruses! This is one reason I dislike winter. This porridge would be perfect for my son who always catches every new virus that circulates at school lol!

  18. Orchidea

    Hi. Nice nice… I have eaten Chinese congee many times when living in Singapore and like it a lot, then I checked on the Internet how to make it and I read it requires a long time! The Japanese version is much faster, thanks for sharing this recipe, I will test it.
    In North of Italy we produce rice and I feel like I like rice more then pasta, I come for rice land. Anyway in Italy we also eat plain rice when sick… we usually boil the rice and then drain it and add some butter or oil and Parmigiano!!!

  19. This is great. I make okayu with chicken stock when I’m sick and it’s wonderful. I honestly had no idea there were different terms for the different rice to water ratios. I’ve always made mine super thick with a soft boiled egg on top, I think now I’ll have to try a thinner version and see which I like better.

  20. aikiwoman1

    I prepared your recipe for Shichibu-gayu for my family who are down with bad colds. It was very comforting and delicious. I used my rice cooker to prepare it.
    Thank you!

  21. Hi Nami, All these pictures of rice porridge are looking gorgeous and I am craving to have a bite too:) Wonderful and appetizing dishes at galore and loved your pot, its too cute. Have a wonderful week. Look forward to your next post. Take care !
    Regards, Sonia

  22. I love my rice porridge thick, so I would probably prefer the Japanese version to the Chinese. :) Beautiful photos for such a simple dish, and I hope your little girl feels better!

  23. Allen at Cook! Bake! Share!

    I certainly did enjoy reading this post! I learned to make this (sometimes for breakfast!) while we lived in Hawaii. I would use either chicken broth or miso and water, as you mentioned. I haven’t made this in years and, thanks to you, I will be making it for lunch today. As usual, gorgeous photos throughout! Happy new Year! Allen.

  24. I know what you mean with have the children taking turns to bring bugs at home, specially when they are at school. Now we are on vacation so everybody are ok at home, but as soon as it start becoming cold and children start going to school, my home looks more like a hospital :)
    Good to know that this porridge can help, and not only the chicken soup 😉

  25. I always think of porridge of being sweet, love that it’s savory. When my stomach is upset, I love just plain rice. I bet it made your daughter feel better, that and mama taking care of her. Have a great weekend.

  26. I occasionally cook porridge even when I’m not sick, but it is perfect when you have a stomach bug with a little bit of flavored soy sauce. This porridge looks tasty. I want some even tho I’ve gotten over my flu! The photos are beautiful!

  27. It’s tradition to make rice porridge whenever someone is sick. When I get sick, one of my parents always make porridge for me. I didn’t know Japanese rice porridge was thicker! I hope your daughter feels better now. :)

  28. This looks delicious. In Bangladesh, we call it “JAU BHAT” meaning soft rice and use as you said for people recovering from sickness. Never knew jau bhat can be presented so beautifully. You rock, Nami!

  29. I have had the Japanese version and liked it very much. The porridge doesn’t cook as long as the Chinese version, so the grains of rice stay intact more. Mmmm, having just gotten over a cold, I can really appreciate the restorative benefits of a hot bowl of porridge.

  30. Yum! We Indians have rice porridge too (but I’m not a fan of Indian pickles)…but this looks tastier, ’cause of the toppings.

    p.s. I spent half of last weekend looking through the vegetarian recipes on your site. 😀

  31. The winter blues with kids. I had been passing the weeks like that too Nami. Just this weekend both kids had the same temp and were both sick at the same time after already being sick last week! We do take turns at home too. I give them soupy pasta for the sick ones too. Hope both kids are fine now.

  32. Okayu looks like it is such a comforting dish! Although I have tasted congee many a times, I haven’t tried okayu yet. With a little umeboshi stirred into the rice, this is something I need to try (as I have also got flu after I came back from the Kodaikanal trip).

  33. sandrine

    Nami, thanks for the measurement, I watched my mom cooked Chinese white porridge the ‘eyeball’ way growing up. I never knew how much rice I need for 1 person and how much water, just add more water as needed or sometimes too much water.
    Last night Chicago’s real feel temp was -10 F, I used your measurement 1:12 for Chinese porridge, it was spot on. Thanks!
    I had it with salted duck egg, salted mustard green, fermented tofu and pickled bamboo shoot, it was heartwarming and felt very satisfied on a freezing night. :)

    • Hi Sandrine! Wow Chicago is so cold! I’m so happy to hear you made the porridge already and enjoyed it! Your topping looks so good! Such a perfect delicious meal for cold days!

  34. I hope your daughter is feeling better…and that the rest of you stay healthy. We’ve had a few rounds of illness here as well…and we generally don’t get sick now that the kids are grown up. Rice is always an excellent option when one is sick…and I’d love it seasoned up the way you suggested as well. And what beautiful bowls and cups you received! Love them~

  35. Serena

    I feel like I want to get flu :)
    Hope your children are feeling better now Nami. I guess a couple of day at home eating porridge without math class is the best way to cure it.

  36. Hope your daughter’s better now. I always cook plain porridge for myself when I’m sick and just add on a few side dishes to complete the meal. Preserved radish omelette and pickled lettuce are my two favourites.

  37. Wow Nami!! If only my mum could make me food when I’m sick too!! <3 Love your rice porridge! It's so interesting that there's different water ratio for the Japanese vs Cantonese porridge! Beautiful pictures as usual! I hope your daughter is feeling much better now! :)

  38. i grew up eating rice porridge almost every week and it’s one of the ultimate comfort food for me. Although there are lot of fancy Chinese ways to make porridge, I have not tried to make it in dashi or miso. I’ll definitely try it next time. Thanks for sharing it.

  39. Exactly what I need to keep warm during the bleakest of winter. A homey, comforting rice porridge. I need to shop for hot pots SOON! All the toppings look delicious. I like my rice porridge with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Oh, and century eggs:)

  40. Nami I love your Japanese cooking pot, so pretty. Nami, I was so sick last week, again, still recovering form a nasty cold. Your rice porridge would be perfect for me. Thank you for the recipe, I will keep it in my mind.

  41. I hope your little girl is feeling better and those bowls are really cute. I’ll keep this dish in mind for those under the weather times that always seem to happen.

  42. Even though it does look good, just hearing the word ‘okayu’ makes me want to stay in bed…
    I even had to make it once for my sick wife as that’s all she wanted to eat. But she ended up getting up to make it herself as mine was… too artistic… Next time, I’ll try your recipe and impress her.

  43. I grew up with Cantonese style rice porridge, but it really depends on my mood in order for me to choose a consistency. If I’m ill, then more watered down. If I’m healthier, thicker. =)

  44. This sounds perfect for when we’re feeling blah. I wonder if Miss A would eat this. She usually doesn’t eat rice, but I think it’s more of a texture thing. Perhaps this will be the trick she needs to help her start enjoying rice. I hope your daughter is feeling better! I just hate when the kids are sick. I just want to wipe it all away and make them better. This recipe looks like a good start to that though. :)

  45. Dear Nami,

    I love rice porridge especially in winter and I prefer the Teo Chew style over the Cantonese one where the rice just slightly broken but already quite soft. It is like a blank canvas because it is so versatile with just about any favourite recipe that has a bit of sauce. I am tempted to eat Teo Chew porridge with its amazing variety of dishes coz we’re in Malaysia at the moment but the weather here is so hot and humid. We might buy takeaway and eat in at home in comfort though :)

  46. This looks so nice, and it’s served so dearly! I love your Japanese bowls, and also the way you combine them! There’s a tea shop not far from here where you can buy original Japanese dishes, some of mine are from there. I’ve been wanting to go there again for a while now. Will definitely before I move away from here!

  47. My boyfriend is often attracted to those pre-made Asian style packaged rice or noodle dishes when he is sick. No classic chicken and noodle here. This rice porridge is a great alternative (and home made!) for when he is feeling under the weather again.

  48. This rice porridge looks so comforting and satisfying. My grandmother was from Italy and she had her own version of rice porridge that I would beg for when I was sick. Now if I have that dish it reminds me of how caring and nurturing she was. I would love to try your version….when I’m healthy!

  49. Erin

    Do you have any tips for cooking with clay pots? >.< I want to make this, but I have never used a clay pot in cooking before. I wouldn't even know where to start! Advice and or tips would be appreciated thank you!

  50. Olive Rentzu

    Hi there! I am a 14 with a passion to cook! I love anime and decided to check some recipes on Dango (which is everywhere. Naruto, sailor moon, etc) and found this site after scrolling through some recipes, I bookmarked a lot to “do later” and came across this one that looks pretty simple. I was just wondering if there’s anything I could use besides a heavy bottoms bowl? I am only a 14 year old girl in the USA, so I don’t know if I could get my hands on one. I could perhaps go to my local world market and check, but if you could answer my question, that would be great! Thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes with me!

    With thanks,

    • Hi Olive! Thank you so much for your comment. If you don’t have a heavy bottom pot, don’t worry. You can use regular pot to make this porridge. Hope you enjoy this recipe! :)

  51. Julie B.

    I do associate okayu with my childhood when my Japanese mom would make it whenever I didn’t feel well. She always made it with lots of egg, in dashi and I think miso, so that’s the way I love it…
    I feel like the main ingredient for okayu should me “a mother’s love” for it to be at its most comforting!

    • Hi Julie! Yeah I too eat okayu mostly when I was sick. Me too, I love when egg and miso are in it!!! I’m not sick now but I feel nostalgic and hungry thinking about it. :) Thank you for your kind comment!

  52. I lived on this during my stay in Yamanashi. I was working through a bad stomach bug, so I made sure to eat this whenever I could (with umeboshi or shiso). It really helped.

    I always wondered how to make it myself, since the pre-made packets can be a little expensive. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Renmi! My favorite is umeboshi & shiso too!! 😀 Love the frangrance from shiso which helps me eat when I didn’t even have appetite. I hope you give this a try next time you are under the weather. :)

    • Hi Mizu! Yes, you can. Just use a regular pot and follow the instruction. Make sure to use the pot that fits to the rice amount. (Don’t use a huge pot for small amount of rice, vice versa). :)

  53. Karen Freeman

    Hi Nami: I am new to your site and am enjoying it very much. Thank you for the concise instructions on cooking rice and sushi rice. Here in Canada, my family enjoys rice pudding so I tried your porridge recipe substituting milk for water and adding the rest of the ingredients like cinnamon,nutmeg,sugar and raisins to my rice cooker. The porridge is very good and this process made it much more convenient for me to produce. Thank you.

    • Hi Karen! Welcome to my blog! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed reading it already. :) I love that you tried your porridge with rice cooker! Rice cooker is one great invention. :) Thank you for your comment!

  54. Fabio

    Hi! :) – I’m going to use brown rice: 50 g of brown rice, the double of water compared to white rice recipe (500 ml) and the double of cook time (1 hour). It should be OK, shouldn’t it?

    • Hi Noor! I’m sorry to hear you were ill. Hope you are feeling better already. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks so much for your kind feedback, Noor! :)

  55. Coreena

    Hi I was wondering if I can make this in a rice cooker without a porridge setting. Mine only has white rice, brown rice, sauté then simmer, steam and slow cook options. I love so many of your recipes thanks!

    • Hi Coreena! I don’t know your rice cooker so it’s hard for me to say how I would use it to make porridge. I only know how to make it in the pot and my rice cooker setting… Sorry