Zousui: Watery Rice
In fact, zousui isn’t even really “dish” so much as a clever way to use up leftover rice that’s gotten a little bit too dry to eat straight.
The basic idea couldn’t be more straight forward: 1-make a clear broth (like osuimono) 2-dump leftover rice in it. For really spectacular results, though, you want to use the left-over broth from making nabe: the richer the nabe was, the better the zousui is going to be.
Zousui is very easy to digest, so it’s the classic Japanese upset tummy food. And my husband swears it’s an excellent hangover cure. More than anything, though it’s real comfort food: a hearty winter dish to warm you from the inside out.
- Leftover rice
- 1.5 x the volume of water of leftover rice
- Spring onions
- An egg
- Soy sauce
- Cooking sake
Those are the basics, and zousui is delicious even if you add nothing more. But, this being leftover soup, the rules about what you can put in it are pretty loose. Some suggestions include:
- Hakusai (Napa cabbage)
- Shitake mushrooms
- Chinese leek (Garlic chives)
- Wakame sea-weed
- Fish and Seafood: Shrimp, Scallops (for luxury zousui!)
- Kimchi (Kimchi with egg and leek is spicy and it’ll warm you when it’s cold)
Basically, within reason, you can throw in anything you like. You’re probably better off avoiding bitter vegetables, though. Things like kale, chickory, broccoli and cauliflower really don’t belong here.
If you already have some osuimono or nabe broth laying around, great! Just bring it to a boil and add the leftover rice. If you don’t, then:
- Bring water to a boil
- Add dashi, salt, sake and a small amount of soy sauce. Remember to go easy on the soy sauce! You want the final dish to be pale-yellow, not brown. If you want it saltier, add more salt.
- Add vegetables and meat, cook thoroughly (time depends on what exactly you’re using)
- Add cooked rice, cook for as long as the rice needs to absorb much more water than usual, but don’t let it totally fall apart. How long this takes depends on how dry the left-over rice was in the first place, but usually it’s between 5 and 15 minutes.
- Once almost ready, lightly beat an egg, pour it in, and swirl the zousui around once
- Wait one minute, turn off the heat, let the egg cook as the pot cools
Some people like their zousui quite wet: with a lot of unabsorbed broth in it, so it’s more like soup. Other people like their zousui drier than that, closer to the consistency of risotto. There’s no right or wrong answer here: make it the way you like it.
Zousui is really easy to make. So easy, I even let my husband Quico make it, and it usually comes out ok. This morning he made us zousui for breakfast alongside…well, our coffee!