Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)


Continuing on the theme of temple food - simple, easy to digest food that is gentle on the stomach and the soul - here is zohsui, or ojiya. Where I grew up, we called it ojiya, which is considered a more vulgar term. Whatever you call it, it's essentially a soup made of rice, various aromatic vegetables, egg, and sometimes some seafood or chicken. It's closely related to Chinese congee.

With simple dishes like this it's very easy to screw things up so that it just looked like a messy attempt to foist leftovers on your unsuspecting family. Done right though it's delicious, warming and looks good too. And, unless you are on a low-carb diet, it fits well into a "temple" regimen. You can omit or add anything you like - omit the eggs, or the seafood, and add more vegetables, whatever. It's up to your imagination.

You can use leftover rice for this, but it does taste better made with freshly cooked rice.

Zohsui, Japanese rice soup

  • 1 cup of Japonica type rice (see Looking at different types of rice
  • 7 cups of dashi soup stock, or chicken stock (you can use cubes or granules for either)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves, washed (you can substitute other greens, such as bok choy leaves, Swiss chard leaves, etc.)
  • 1 cup of crabmeat, or cut-up chicken breast, or imitation crabsticks (optional)
  • 1 handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, or chervil, or (if you can get it) mitsuba (a kind of Japanese herb), or fresh coriander (Note: coriander would make this taste very not-Japanese, but that's ok. Mitsuba would be the most Japanese-tasting but is hard to get unless you grow your own.)
  • Salt, white pepper, soy sauce

Wash the rice following the instructions for plain rice. Put the rice in the stock, heat up and then cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender.

In the meantime, blanch the greens in a pot of boiling water. (Blanching means to cook for a few seconds in the boiling water.)

Add the seafood or chicken to the rice soup, and stir until just cooked through. Add the blanched greens.

Whisk the eggs into the soup, stirring all the time. The eggs should form into sort of soft strings throughout the soup.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and soy sauce. You may wish to add some Japanese chili powder (Ichimi tohgarashi, or Shichimi tohgarashi - look for these at Japanese food stores).

Garnish with the herb leaves. Serve piping hot.

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Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

This looks and sounds like such a comfort food dish. I will have to try next week.

Donna | 8 February, 2004 - 01:52

Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

Aloha !
I look forward to returning to Midori Zushi with friends.
Great photo of Japanese Rice Soup.

Duane | 15 February, 2004 - 19:16

TrackBack from The Ballad of Yoko:
Whew. Man, that was worse than being in the Bowels of Trogdor. or something. I think the worst has passed. The fever's gone and I'm not going to the bathroom every minute to hurl. Still feel a little bit queasy,

The Ballad of Yoko | 26 May, 2004 - 23:36
anon. | 16 January, 2009 - 17:27

Re: Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

Someone seems to have copied your recipe verbatim. I'm hoping it was just you putting it up elsewhere, but I'll be sad if they took your work without permission.


Kieran | 1 October, 2009 - 04:17

Re: Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

Yep, someone copied it without my permission. Not the first time by any means it's happened, nor will it be the last I know. Really annoying. :( And they have the nerve to have a Copyright notice on their site. Sheesh.

maki | 1 October, 2009 - 07:17

Re: Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

I've made this recipe a couple times, and it's definitely a favorite. I've been substituting ground turkey for the crabmeat because that's how a friend made it, though sadly the rice always becomes too mushy that way, maybe because of the time it takes for the turkey to get cooked through. A good food to have when you're sick.

Karen-anon | 21 September, 2010 - 05:21

Re: Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

Just add the meat earlier. Goodness, where's your sense of logic? ^^ Obviously if you add the meat when the rice's already cooked (which wouldn't be if you'd follow the recipe), the rice will turn out over-boiled.

Jonas | 16 October, 2011 - 17:17

Re: Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

I made it with broken wheat and red rice. Came out lovely. I liked it better than the Chinese congee recipes I have tried. Thank you.

Nanc | 9 March, 2011 - 10:19

Re: Temple Food II: Zohsui (Japanese rice soup)

Made this today, it really was warm, filling, and delicious! Thanks for the recipe, Maki. :)

Jinann | 27 July, 2012 - 10:34

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