This easy Chinese Pumpkin Porridge recipe is the perfect Asian comfort food for fall! It's also a great way to use up leftover pumpkin puree! Adapted from a Michelin-star Chinese restaurant's recipe to make it suitable for weekday dinners.
⭐ Why This Recipe is a Star
- This easy Chinese Pumpkin Porridge is delicious: congee is a childhood comfort dish for most Asians and this recipe is full of cozy fall flavors. (
- It's very flexible: I've tested it with fish, with canned abalone, and without any seafood at all. All 3 times, it tasted scrumptious! You can also make it with boiled pumpkin, steamed pumpkin or leftover pumpkin puree! It's also a great way to use up extra rice!
- It's really simple: if you can cook rice in a rice cooker, and boil a pot of water, you can make this Chinese pumpkin dish! (Unlike typical congee, the rice is cooked separately from the soup, then added later. This helps to preserve the texture of the individual grains of rice, making it a more delicate dish. It's also cooked much more quickly than a traditional bowl of congee!)
You will need a few simple ingredients, the main ones of which are:
- pumpkin: The original Shang-Ri La Chinese pumpkin recipe calls for steaming and mashing-blending Japanese pumpkins (kabocha) but I've tested regular pumpkins which work well too. (Note that Japanese kabocha pumpkins will give the porridge a more beautiful orange hue compared to regular pumpkins.) In addition, I've simplified the recipe by boiling the pumpkins instead of steaming and blitzing- less hassle, saves on clean up and still tastes as good!
- long-grain white rice: you can substitute with short grain Japonica rice but that is more starchy, and will break down more in the pumpkin chicken broth. This will make the Pumpkin Porridge taste less refined, though still yummy!
- dried scallops: these need to be soaked in hot water for 30 minutes before cooking. If not, even if you boil them for 15 minutes on high heat, they'll still be tough in the middle. They're like natural seafood stock cubes so a little pricey. If you're on a budget, check out 1 of these dried scallop alternatives. If you're lucky enough to have too many, here are some Asian conpoy recipes to help you use them up!
- chicken stock: Homemade is best. Alternatively, use 1 chicken stock cube. I have not tested the recipe with seafood or vegtable stock, but will do so soon.
- light soy sauce: use high quality light soy and don't substitute with dark soy sauce, sweet soy sauce or thick soy sauce!
- Chinese cooking wine: use Shaoxing or 1 of its substitutes
For the full list of ingredients, please scroll down to the recipe card.
Note: My testers and I don't feel that coriander goes well with this pumpkin porridge so don't recommend it. If you want a garnish, try spring onions or 1 of these Chinese rice porridge toppings and side dishes.
Why Add Pumpkin?
This Chinese Pumpkin Recipe is adapted from a Shangri- La Hotel Shang Palace recipe to make it suitable for weekday dinners. (In case you're not familiar with Shangri-La, it's an Asian chain of luxury hotels. The 1 in Singapore received a Michelin-star at its Chinese restaurant!)
The pumpkin gives the rice a beautiful golden hue. It also makes it look especially appetising, as well as bulks up the poached rice, so it's healthier!
Usually people get hungry quite soon after eating rice porridge. However, the thickness of this pumpkin poached rice means that you stay full for quite some time.
This Chinese pumpkin recipe is also great for Chinese New Year as gold is considered a lucky colour. It symbolises getting lots of gold (money!) in the coming year. In fact, some people feel it's a must to have pumpkin on their CNY table, such as this easy Chinese pumpkin soup recipe.
Note: If you're here for a Chinese New Year recipe, you may like these 6 Asian whole chicken recipe (for prosperity), this fish-shaped koi jelly (for auspiciousness), this soy sauce chicken recipe (for wholesomeness) or these Chinese New Year walnut biscuits (for fertility.)
🥘 Step-by-Step Instructions
- Cook your white rice as per normal (i.e. in the rice cooker, stove or microwave. If you're using a rice cooker, it'll take about 40 minutes to cook. The pumpkin only requires 10 minutes or so of boiling to be cooked FYI!)
- At the same time, rinse then soak your dried scallops in hot water. Don't wash off all the white powder you see on the scallops- these are usually the "umami" bits!
- If using fish- optional as I've tested without it and the porridge is still very tasty- marinate them now in the sugar, soy sauce, salt and cornflour.
- 15-20 minutes before you want to serve your meal, bring a pot of chicken stock to the boil
- Add the pumpkin cubes and dried scallops.
6. When the pumpkins are cooked, they should be tender enough to pierce with a fork.
7. Lower the heat to a simmer. If using, add the fish now and poach till cooked. If not using fish, add the same quantity of soy sauce and sugar to the porridge (as per the marinade quantities.)
8. Stir in the shaoxing wine, then add your cooked white rice to the pot.
9. Salt to taste and serve.
Changes to the Original Hotel Recipe
The original Shangri-La Hotel kabocha rice recipe called for chicken stock powder.
I prefer to use natural ingredients in my cooking, so I substituted the chicken bouillon powder with sugar and light soya sauce. (Most vintage Singaporean cookbooks use MSG but my Uncle, who was Perankan and a fantastic home cook, always used sugar whenever recipes called for MSG.)
I also pared down the steps and ingredients to the basics to make it more accessible for weekday dinner cooking.
For example, the original calls for crabmeat, but crabs aren't really an everyday ingredient. I tested this Japanese pumpkin porridge without it and the chicken stock, seasoning and dried scallops make it sufficiently tasty!
You can add the crabs on special occasions as well as other types of seafood, such as fresh scallops, prawns and abalone.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
Tip #1: If adding other types of seafood, add them to the broth with the fish (i.e. in the 2nd last stage of cooking. Put them in the pot in order of the amount of time they take to cook, starting with the longest to the shortest. This helps keep the seafood tender and not rubbery.)
Tip #2: If using fresh pumpkin, it can be steamed, boiled or microwaved for this porridge. I recommend boiling for those who want to save time, and steaming for those want a slightly more melt-in-the-mouth pumpkin texture. (The difference is quite small, to be honest.)
Tip #3: If you want a smooth porridge with no chunks of pumpkin, blend the pumpkin in the chicken broth before adding the grains of rice!
💭 Recipe FAQs
Yes, if you're pressed for time, or simply want to finish up your extra pumpkin puree.
You'll probably have some pumpkin leftover if you're cooking this porridge for only 3-4 people. You can use the rest in assam fish curry or 1 of these Asian pumpkin recipes. You can also use it as natural orange food coloring in these pretty spiral mantous.
🥢 Other Asian Pumpkin Recipes
Enjoyed this hotel-inspired Chinese Pumpkin Porridge recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below & if you REALLY liked this Asian comfort food dish, a comment would make my week! Thank you and have a great day!
Chinese Pumpkin Porridge
- Rice cooker if not cooking rice on stovetop
- 0.26 oz Thai jasmine rice (120g) This makes about 4-5 (Chinese) bowls of porridge, so I've indicated it as serving 2 people but of course it depends on how much you eat and how many side dishes you serve.
- 2 dried scallops (conpoy) Rinse gently then soak in ½ Cup of hot water for 30 minutes. Add the soaking water to the pot too. If you don't have any, try some of these dried scallop substitutes.
- 4 cups chicken stock Add more chicken stock/ water at the end if you prefer a more watery porridge. Substitute: 1 chicken bouillon cube mixed in 4 Cups of hot water.
- 0.77 lb Japanese kabocha (350g) You can substitute this with regular pumpkin or store-bought pumpkin puree to make cooking quicker. Pumpkin puree will not need to be boiled for as long as the cubed kabocha!
- 0.5 lb garoupa fillet (226g) Optional. You can also substitute with other types of white fish, prawns. or crabmeat. If you use canned abalone, feel free to add up to 5 Tablespoons of the abalone brine to the soup.
- 1 spring onion Optional Garnish. Coriander not recommender.
- ½ teaspoon Salt Or to taste.
- ½ teaspoon sugar Note: even if not adding fish, add this directly to the chicken pumpkin porridge.
- ½ teaspoon light soya sauce Use tamari if on a GF diet. Note: even if not adding fish, add this directly to the chicken pumpkin porridge.
- ½ tablespoon Cornflour Do not add this to the porridge if not adding fish!
- 1 tablespoon Chinese shaoxing wine Substitute: sherry
- Salt to taste
- At the same time, rinse then soak your dried scallops in ½ Cup of hot water to soften (covered.) Don't wash off all the white powder you see on the scallops- these are usually the "umami" bits!
- If using fish- optional as I've tested without it and the porridge is still very tasty- marinate them now in the sugar, light soy sauce, salt and cornflour. After marinating for 30 minutes (in the fridge), slice the fish thinly and set aside if not using yet.
- 15-20 minutes before you want to serve your meal, bring a pot of chicken stock to the boil. Add the pumpkin cubes and dried scallops, along with the soaking water. (If your pumpkin has already been steamed or microwaved, lower to a simmer before adding the pumpkin and stirring till well-mixed.) Boil for about 10 minutes or till the pumpkin is soft enough to pierce with a fork.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and, if using, add the fish now to poach till cooked. If not using fish, add the same quantity of soy sauce and sugar to the porridge (as per the marinade.)
- Add the shaoxing wine and cooked rice. Stir, taste and season with salt if necessary. (If you are using unsalted homemade chicken stock, salting is crucial here.)
- Garnish with spring onions before serving.
Note: the nutritional information is an estimate automatically calculated using the WPRM recipe maker and I am not responsible for its veracity.
If you try this easy Chinese pumpkin rice recipe, let me know what you think in the comments or tag me @greedygirlgourmet on Instagram!