Okayu (Japanese Rice Porridge)

Okayu (Japanese Rice Porridge)

The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
84 Calories
0g Fat
19g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 84
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 641mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 7mg 35%
Calcium 31mg 2%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 143mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Okayu is Japanese rice porridge and a comforting dish made quite simply of rice and water. It is easy to digest, so people in Japan commonly eat it when they have a cold, recover from an illness, or don't have much 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 the rice porridge of some other countries, okayu is much thicker due to the water-to-rice ratio. For instance, where Cantonese-style congee is made with 1 part rice to 10 or 12 parts water, okayu uses 1 part rice with just 5 parts water. Keeping this ratio in mind, it's easy to decrease or increase the amount of okayu you make at one time. You can adjust the amount of water based on how thick you like the porridge, or replace the water with dashi or chicken stock for extra flavor. In Japan, the rice porridge is traditionally cooked in a donabe, a glazed earthenware pot with a lid that retains heat well and cooks food evenly.

Japanese-style rice is a polished short-grain white rice (hakumai), which you may know better as sushi rice. The most popular rice in Japan for cooking is a japonica rice variety called Koshihikari. If that's unavailable, use another short-grain white rice.

This is a basic recipe to make plain okayu, and its neutral taste is the ideal base for various ingredients. Classic toppings include green onion, sesame seeds, and umeboshi (pickled plums). You can also add things like cooked chicken, salted salmon, or eggs, and vegetables (radishes are a favorite), Japanese parsley (mitsuba), and strips of nori.


  • 1/2 cup Japanese-style rice (short-grain rice)

  • 3 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Chopped scallion, for optional garnish

  • 1 ounce sesame seeds, for optional garnish

  • Umeboshi, for optional garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Okayu (Japanese Rice Porridge) ingredients

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  2. Wash the rice and drain well. Put 3 cups of water and the rice in a heavy-bottomed pot or earthenware pot. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

    rice in a pot with water

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Cover the pot, put over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook the rice for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the pot covered, and let steam for about 10 minutes.

    rice cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. Place the desired toppings in separate bowls. Season the okayu with salt. Spoon into individual rice bowls and serve with toppings on the side. 

    Okayu (Japanese Rice Porridge) poured into a bowl

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

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