- Taiwanese name: Taiwanese
- Filipino name: Tagalog, lúgao
- Japanese name: Kanji, Hiragana, Romaji kayu or shiragayu
- Vietnamese name: cháo
- Korean name: Hangul, Hanja, juk, chuk
- Malaysian name: Malay bubur
- Cambodian name: Khmer babar
- Burmese name: Burmese san byoke
- Thai name: Siamese South
- Tamil: kanji
- Malayalam: kanji
- Bengali: jau
- Kannada: Ganjee
- Urdu: Ganjee
While Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese congee are sometimes made with broth, the Japanese congee is usually made with water and seasoned with salt, and is a traditional "sick-food" in Japan.
To make Chinese congee, white rice is boiled in many times its weight of water for a long time until the rice breaks down and becomes a fairly viscous white porridge. It is usually eaten as a savoury, with zha cai, lettuce and dace paste, bamboo shoots, wheat gluten, meat, or with other condiments, or plain. It is sometimes eaten with meat or century egg added near the start of making the congee. Sometimes when the congee is ready, savoury items like minced beef and fish are scalded with the boiling congee which cooks the meat. Other seasonings, such as white pepper and soy sauce, may be added. Alternatively, fish can be grilled and mixed in to provide a texture different from the watery congee. Occasionally, a sweet version is prepared by mixing rice congee with red beans and sugar for certain traditional festivals. Congee is often served with peanuts and usually topped with scallions.
Congee is considered a part of traditional Chinese medicine food therapy. Ingredients can be determined by their therapeutic value as well as flavor. In China it is a very quick way to make a filling meal. Congee is often accompanied by fried bread sticks known as youtiao. Congee with youtiao is commonly eaten as breakfast in many areas in China. Congee can be left watery or can be drained so that the congee has a texture that is like Western porridge. Although less common, congee can also be made from brown rice; such congee is recommended for certain conditions in traditional Chinese medicine.
The origin of congee is unknown, but from many historical accounts, it is usually served during times of famine, or during times of when numerous patrons visits the temples. Thus, it can be intepreted as a way to stretch the rice supply to feed more people.
In China, congee has also been used to feed young infants. However, the cooking time is much longer than okayu, and as it is for infants, the congee is not seasoned with salt or any other flavouring, but often is mixed with pre-steamed and deboned fish.
Okayu is the name for the type of congee eaten in Japan. Okayu is still considerably thicker than congee produced in other cultures. For example, a typical Cantonese style congee uses a water to rice ratio of 12:1, but okayu typically uses water to rice ratios of 5:1 (zen-gayu) or 7:1 (shichibun-gayu). Also, its cooking time is short compared to other types of congee; okayu is cooked for about 30 minutes, while Cantonese congees cook for an hour or more.
Okayu may simply consist of rice and water, although salt is often added for seasoning. Beaten eggs could be beaten into it to thicken it into gruel. Toppings may be added to enhance flavour; negi (a type of green onion), salmon, roe, ginger, and umeboshi (pickled ume fruit) are among the most common. Similarly, miso or chicken stock may be used to flavor the broth. Most Japanese electric rice cookers have a setting for okayu.
In Japan, okayu is popularly known as a food served to the ill, occupying a similar cultural status to that of chicken noodle soup in America. Because it is soft and easily digestible, okayu is the first solid food served to Japanese infants; it is used to transition them from liquids to the thicker rice dishes which constitute much of the Japanese diet. It is also commonly eaten by the elderly for the same reasons.
A type of okayu called nanakusa-gayu ("Seven Herb Porridge") is traditionally eaten on 7 January, as a way of using special herbs that protect against evils, and to invite good luck and longevity in the new year. Moreover, as a simple, light dish, nanakusagayu serves as a break from the many heavy dishes eaten over the Japanese New Year.
Lúgao is the name for a Filipino style of congee. Very similar to Cantonese style congee, lúgao is typically of a thicker consistency, retaining the shape of the rice while achieving the same type of texture. It is boiled with strips of fresh ginger. Other flavors may be added according to taste. Most often it will be topped with scallions and served with crispy fried garlic. As with okayu, fish or chicken stock may also be used to flavor the broth. It is often served to the ill, and favored among Pinoy living abroad as a winter dish because it is warm, soft, and easily digestible.
Some provinces prefer the Spanish-style, arroz caldo. Spiced with saffron and black pepper in place of the more traditional ginger and scallion, arroz caldo more closely resembles risotto than congee. It is clearly recognized by the bright yellow hue contributed by the addition of saffron, and larger pieces of meat. This variant tends to be more popular among those of Ilokano heritage.
Occasionally noted as lugaw or lugau the pronunciation remains the same, regardless of spelling