Pumpkin, ham and chicken congee

Pumpkin, ham and chicken congee

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

By mistake we ended up eating at the breakfast table reserved for a group of primary school art students and their parents in the incredibly pretty village of Little Likeng in Jiangxi Province. Kind to the core, they urged us to stay and eat with them and we observed, amazed, as the pint-sized kids put away serious amounts of thin, plain congee, platefuls of steamed mantou, fried breadstick (youtiao) and boiled eggs. Everything went into the congee bowl together, washed down with copious amounts of tea and hot soy milk. Here’s our slightly more elegant interpretation of this beloved staple, well suited for lunch or as a light dinner.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
750g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped, such as jap or kent
200g short- or medium-grain rice
75 g piece chinese cured ham, shredded
2 1/2 tablespoons ginger, finely shredded
2 litres Chicken stock
2 tablespoons clear rice wine
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
small raw, red-skinned peanuts, roasted, to serve, (see note)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium–low heat. Add the pumpkin, then cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the pumpkin is very soft. Remove the pan from the heat and use a potato masher or a hand-held stick blender to purée the pumpkin.
  2. Return the pan of puréed pumpkin to the heat, then add the rice, ham, ginger, stock and rice wine and stir to combine well. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the rice is very soft.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the chicken across the grain into very thin slices. Add to the congee, stir to combine, then cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper, then divide among warm bowls. Scatter the peanuts over the top and serve.


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the peanuts on a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes, or until golden, then remove the peanuts from the tray and cool.
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