Congee, or rice porridge, is my cultural version of chicken noodle soup. It’s a light, soothing meal that is perfect for chilly evenings and those days when you’re feeling under the weather. I’d guess that every Chinese family has their own version of congee. At the root congee is extremely simple: just rice simmered with a lot of liquid until it gets creamy. But you can jazz it up any way you like — by changing the stock base (we favor homemade chicken stock), adding in some whole grains, or popping in some seasonal produce as this version does.
I first had pumpkin congee when I moved back to Toronto a few years ago. As much as I love my hometown of Seattle, I have to give Toronto the edge in the Chinese food department. There’s just a lot more of it here, and the quality and variety is extremely high. I’ve seen this at a few dim sum restaurants in the area, and I order it whenever it’s available. This is our best attempt to recreate it at home.
A few notes:
- At least four hours before you make this, wash, rinse, and drain your rice; put it in a ziplock; and stick it in the freezer. This helps break down the rice faster and your congee will cook in less time. You can definitely make this with non-frozen rice; you will just need to increase the simmering time by at least 45 minutes or so. You can also use brown, red, or black rice — just note that the simmering time will be a bit longer.
- You can certainly roast and puree your own pumpkin; I had a partial can hanging out in the fridge so I used that. You can also add in chunks of pumpkin during the rice simmering stage if you prefer more texture.
- People vary wildly on how thick / thin they prefer their congee. I usually start out with about 8 cups of liquid and adjust towards the end of cooking time by adding more stock / water if needed. If it’s too liquidy, just keep cooking it until it reaches your desired consistency.
- If you don’t like seafood, feel free to sub in chicken or leave it out completely.
Pumpkin and Corn Seafood Congee
- 3/4 cup uncooked white rice, rinsed and frozen for at least four hours (see note above)
- 7-10 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade, or water
- 4 slices fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp dried scallops (optional)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
- 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 lb firm white fish, cut into 1 inch chunks, seasoned with salt and white pepper
- 1/4 lb bay scallops
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- Finely chopped green onion
- Fresh ginger, cut in thin matchsticks
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Chili oil
- In a large pot with a lid, add your stock/water, pumpkin puree, and ginger slices. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- When the liquid is boiling, add your rice straight from the freezer. Keep at a boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Then turn down to low, add the dried scallops if using, and cover.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally (make sure to stir from the bottom to keep the rice from sticking), for about 15 minutes or until the rice has broken down and a creamy consistency is achieved. Add liquid a 1/4 cup at a time if you prefer a thinner consistency.
- Add the fish, scallops, and corn, and cook just until seafood is opaque (2-3 minutes). Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Serve topped with desired accoutrements. Enjoy!
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