½ cup short grain or sushi rice (brown or white)
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
150ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon plain oil, plus a little extra to rub the pumpkin
200g chicken thigh, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, cut into 2cm matchsticks
4cm daikon radish, cut into 2cm matchsticks
½ cup shelled edamame
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 large kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin), about 1.5kg

I love roasting whole stuffed kabocha squash and a Japanese sticky rice dish such as kayaku gohan is perfect for the stuffing.

I have added a little chicken thigh for flavour, but pork fillet or mince works well as does crumbled tofu as a plant-based alternative (substituting vege stock, also). You can change the vegetables to suit your tastes – celery, broccoli and cauliflower work well – and if you have some seaweed flakes in the pantry, add a sprinkle in.

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1.Soak the rice in water for 2 hours. Drain well.
2.Soak the shiitake in ½ cup water for 30 minutes.
3.Bring the stock to the boil, stir in the rice, cover, reduce the heat to very low and cook for 5 minutes for white rice and 15 minutes for brown rice. Set aside.
4.Remove the shiitake from the water (keep the soaking water), cut out the tough stems and discard. Slice the shiitake and set aside.
5.Put the tamari, mirin, sake, rice vinegar and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
6.Boil for 1 minute then add the water in which the shiitake were soaked and set aside.
7.Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wide saucepan over a medium-high heat.
8.Add the chicken and stir fry for 3 minutes, then add the shiitake, carrots and daikon and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
9.Add the rice and tamari/ mirin/shiitake water mixture, stir well, cover and reduce the heat to very low.
10.Cook for 5 minutes then remove from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the edamame and sesame oil.
11.Heat the oven to 190°C.
12.To prepare the squash, cut a 2-3cm slice off the stem end and scoop out all the seeds.
13.Spoon in the prepared rice and place upside down on a lined baking sheet.
14.Rub the outside of the squash with a little oil and some salt and roast for 40 minutes until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife. Serve hot, cut into wedges.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles