Rice congee is a type of rice porridge or gruel which is eaten throughout Asia, the name thought to derive from the Malayalam word kanji. It is usually eaten as a savoury, with zhà cài, lettuce and dace paste, bamboo shoots, wheat gluten, and other vegetables or meat.
Ingredients which do not need much cooking, as minced meats, fish or hundred year old eggs, are often added towards the end of the cooking process. Alternatively, they may be cooked separately and mixed in to provide a texture different from the rice gruel. Occasionally, a sweet version is prepared by mixing rice congee with red beans and sugar for certain traditional festivals. Congee is often garnished with peanuts and usually topped with spring onions and may be a rather watery gruel or drained to more closely resemble western porridge.
While Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean congee is often made with broth, the Japanese version, called okayu, is usually made with water and seasoned with salt. A type of okayu called nanakusagayu (七草粥, "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 in the new year. In China congee is often mixed with foods for medicinal purposes and the Japanese version is regarded as a plain, calming food to give to people who are ill.