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Backpacker’s Congee

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Backpacker’s Congee

Because oatmeal will drive you insane after a while, here's a proper breakfast for a cold, alpine morning. But it'll make a good dinner, too. Make no mistake: this will fill you up with the tricksy addition of various seeds.
Course Breakfast, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Keyword backpacking, dairy-free, egg-free, hypoallergenic, lactose-free, no shellfish, no tree nuts, vegan, vegetarian
Servings 10 people
Calories 550kcal


  • Dehydrator
  • Food processor
  • 4 oz Nalgene travel bottle


  • 3 cups short-grained rice or sweet, glutinous rice
  • 3⅛ cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 carrots peeled and diced
  • 6 green onions sliced into rings
  • 12 mushrooms white or crimini
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 3 cups chicken pulled, from steamed boneless, skinless thighs
  • 1 Tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup sesame seeds toasted
  • 4 oz dark sesame oil


At home:

  • Add the broth, rice (unwashed), and salt to a pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 3 minutes. If not using a pressure cooker, cook according the stovetop instructions on the bag.
  • Spread the cooked rice evenly on dehydrator trays and dehydrate for 5 hours at 125 degrees. Dehydrate the diced carrots, celery, green onion, and mushrooms on their own tray.
  • Steam and pull the chicken. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly coat with garlic salt and pepper. Add to another tray in your dehydrator.
  • In a stainless steel fry pan on high heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring constantly. Then do the same for the sesame seeds. Let them cool and store in a zipper lock bag.
  • When the rice is dry, place it in a food processor and pulse it a few times. We're not going for a powder but we do want to rough it up a bit to that it'll rehydrate faster in the field. Store rice, dried chicken, and dried veggies in a zipper lock bag.

In the field:

  • Place the rice, veggie, chicken mixture in a large pot and add 8 cups of cold water. Turn on the burner and bring to a boil, stirring periodically and adding more water as needed.
  • One the rice begins to thicken, dump in the sesame seeds and pine nuts. Once combined, it's ready to serve.
  • To serve, ladle the congee into a bowl or cup. Then put a few drops of dark sesame oil on top.


You can make this a vegetarian meal by using chicken in a foil pack that can be added only to the bowls of those who want it. You can eliminate the tree nuts by dropping the pine nuts. Though technically in a different class of nuts, pine nuts are not worth the risk if you have someone on the outing with a known allergy to tree nuts.


Calories: 550kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 998mg | Potassium: 567mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3167IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 190mg | Iron: 5mg

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