Japanese Rice Porridge: Okayu vs Zosui
As you know, steamed white plain rice and Miso soup are the staple food of the Japanese, with which at meals we usually enjoy some varieties of side dishes, alongside salted foods like Umeboshi plums and Mentaiko roe.
However, some Japanese like to pour hot Miso soup into a bowl of rice and eat them together. Like this, when we have Japanese-style hot-pot dishes called Nabemono, for finishing it off, we sometimes simmer cooked plain rice in its leftover soup and make a rice porridge which is called “Zosui (雑炊)”.
Zosui and Okayu Rice Porridge In Japan
In addition to the Zosui rice porridge, Japanese home cooks sometimes make a porridge called “Okayu (お粥)” at home, but do you know how the former is different from the latter? If your answer is no, please read on.
Zosui is the generic name for Japanese porridge made by cooking rice and other food materials, like meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables and mushrooms, together in a seasoned water.
This Japanese rice porridge is seasoned mainly with soy sauce or Miso soybean paste, which is why the rice dish mixed with Miso soup or simmered in the leftover soup of Nabemono is included in Zosui. Zosui is also referred to as “Ojiya (おじや)” or “Konagaki (こながき)” in Japan, by the way.
Kayu, or O-kayu is a Japanese porridge that can be made of various cereals, such as non-glutinous rice, wheat, millet or buckwheat. Not only that, but beans and potatoes can also be its main ingredient.
Okayu is a simple porridge made by boiling those cereals in plenty of water until soft and thick. Since this plain porridge is low in calories, it is sometimes used as a diet food in Japan.
As with Zosui, Okayu is easy to digest and is often served for sick persons. By the way, Okayu is known as one of the Japan’s Buddhist vegetarian dishes called Shojin Ryori.