Marina Eats: Feeling sick? Try some chicken okayu/congee/lugao!


Runny nose.  Icky, itchy throat.  Tired eyes.  Fuzzy headedness.

I felt the sickness coming on yesterday, and tried to ignore it by going about my regular routine and working a full shift.  As I used long sentences in my conversations with people, I went breathless and felt as if I were going to collapse from the lack of air.  I gulped down glasses of water and ate normal, hard foods, but my refusal to acknowledge the inevitable only seemed to hasten its arrival.  I wanted nothing more than to curl up in my bed with a glass of water and a steaming bowl of my mom’s homemade chicken porridge.

Although I say “porridge”, in reality, the dish I remember is the filipino lugao.  My mom would cook it with grated ginger since I would throw a fit as a kid if I would bite into sliced pieces of it.  Whenever I would fall ill, this was the dish that nursed me back to health.  When I moved away for college, I completely underestimated my reliance on this dish and its magical ability to soothe both my body and soul.  The first time I got sick, I went into homesick despair, and wanted nothing to do with American chicken noodle soup.  I wanted my bed at home, my mom’s hand on my back, and a heartwarming bowl of lugao.

It wasn’t until I picked up anime that I re-visited my desire to have this dish, and by that point, I was confident enough to try to make it myself.  I noticed that every time a character became sick in an anime, they more than likely were brought back to health by a dish that looked remarkably a lot like my mom’s lugao.  Call it what you may: arroz caldo, lugao, congee, or okayu, the basic idea of a rice porridge is the same.  Sometimes I go the plain Japanese route (especially when I don’t want to drive to the store for groceries) and use only water, rice, and salt.  At other times, I lean a bit more toward lugao and arroz caldo, using chicken stock, thicker slices of chicken, soy sauce, and a poached egg.


(Source: BellaOnline, Lila Voo):

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 green onion
  • ½ cup long grain white rice
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. cooking sherry
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • 4 to 5 sprigs fresh cilantro


  • Remove all of the fat from the chicken breasts. Then cut each breast into about 1-inch wide and ¼-inch thick slices. Sprinkle the chicken slices with the garlic salt using your hand to mix it in thoroughly. Then, set these pieces aside.
  • Using a knife or the edge of a spoon, remove the peel from the piece of ginger. Then, dice it into tiny pieces and set them aside.
  • Rinse the green onion under cold running water and dry it with a paper towel. Cut off the bottom base about an inch from the top of the greens and discard. Cut the remaining stalk into small slices and set these pieces aside.
  • In a clay pot or dutch oven, add the rice, broth, chicken slices, ginger, sherry, soy sauce, and white pepper. Stir lightly to combine, then turn the heat on medium high and bring this mixture to a boil.
  • Once the mixture boils, turn the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring every so often. Make sure to stir it thoroughly so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • After 1 ½ hours, remove the lid and stir one final time. The congee should have the texture of a thick porridge. If you prefer a more watery congee, simply add a bit more chicken broth. If you like your congee thicker, then just let it simmer a bit longer.
  • Once the congee reaches your desired texture, remove it from the heat. To serve, place the congee into bowls and garnish each one with the cilantro and green onions.

Notes and Substitutions:

  • Depending on the strength desired for chicken flavor, chicken broth can be substituted with percentages of water.
  • Congee tastes fine even w/o ginger and green onion, but for some other options, add fried garlic, to taste.
  • Black pepper can be substituted for white pepper.  Black pepper has a stronger flavor, but doesn’t look as pretty in the white-ish porridge.
  • Short grain white rice works fine if long grain white rice isn’t available.
  • Since I don’t like white meat, I use skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead.

Want to go the more traditional Japanese way? Try FOODjimoto’s Okayu recipe!

5 thoughts on “Marina Eats: Feeling sick? Try some chicken okayu/congee/lugao!

  1. Wauuuugh, whenever I’m sick and I don’t feel like eating anything, either my parents or my grandparents make me congee with stirred up egg and it just makes me feel so much better after eating it. ;_;

    But I’m sorry to hear that you were sick, I do hope you’re feeling lots better today. 😦


    • Thanks >.< I am feeling better, though I think I'll still have some icky nose stuff for a couple more days. You should learn how to make the congee your parents/grandparents make for when they no longer make it for you 🙂


  2. That looks appetizing, but hard to say if that would agree with a sore throat.Would of tried this sooner, since I was sick this week, but my cold is starting to clear up remarkably fast. Well..still have a stuffy nose.


    • I think it works great for a sore throat since the mixture is so soft and easy to eat. The broken up rice just glides on down and doesn’t need to be chewed at all. The chicken chunks can just be removed from the serving if the dish is for a sick person. I hope by the time you read this, you’ll be a-ok again!


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