Traditional Chinese Steamboat the Australian way

Even though I left home almost 30 years ago, I still practice the one of the Chinese New Year rituals – cooking a traditional Chinese steamboat.

But first, what is a steamboat?

It is where we have an array of raw and marinated ingredients to dip into the simmering stock. Imagine having your family members sitting around the table, and you have a hot pot of soup simmering in the middle of the table. The big pot is surrounded by an array of pre-marinated fresh raw ingredients, such as prawns, calamari, meat, vegetables etc.

We normally have steamboat on Chinese New Year’s Eve, where family members would come back home, whether from overseas or interstate. It is a time for catching up, exchanging experiences and to reconnect.

The beauty of this dish is it is so versatile and easy to make. However, I do not downplay the effort of all the preparations; sometimes it would take a couple of hours just to clean, cut and marinade all the raw ingredients.

Hey, why not get your children involved as well! Get them to clean and cut the vegetables, choose the marinating sauce, set the tables etc. They have fun and learn so many practical things.

This is the recipe that I enjoy at home with my family here in Australia. Because there are only the four of us, I use less ingredients that we would normally have at home in Malaysia.

Be creative and add any ingredient of your choice to this versatile dish. Enjoy the experience!

Traditional Chinese Steam boat the Australia Way


12 uncooked prawns – shelled and deveined
300g minced pork
200g chicken fillet (your choice of thigh or breast fillet) – sliced diagonally
1 tube calamari
100g ginger – julienned (for garnishing)
100g Chinese cabbage
100g choi sum
10 baby corn pieces
2 litres of water
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic – chopped finely
500g of hokkien noodles



2 litres of water brought to the boil; add chicken bones and brew for 20 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add 2 tbsp of garlic oil to stock for an amazing aroma.

Garlic oil

Heat 5 Tbsp cooking oil – add garlic and fry for 1minute (approx) until aromatic and brown – keep aside and allow to cool.



Wash and cut calamari length ways so that it lays flat. Using a sharp knife, score shallow diagonal cuts in criss-cross patterns on the outside surface, then cut into 4cm x 4cm pieces. Place them into a bowl.

Marinade: 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp garlic oil

Minced Pork


Buy the readymade minced pork from your butcher or you can mince your own pork. I would recommend 50/50 lean and fat pork for the mince mixture.

Marinade: 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp corn flour, 1 tsp garlic oil


Your choice of thigh or breast meat – sliced diagonally

Marinade: 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp shao shin wine and garnish with ginger


12 uncooked prawns – shelled and deveined but with tail intact

Marinade: 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil and garnish with ginger


Choy Sum – Wash and drain. Cut into 5cm lengths.
Chinese cabbage – Wash and drain. Cut into 5cm lengths.
Baby Corn – boil 30 ml of water; blanch corn for about 1 minute.
Note: You can use any marinade of your choice, and add any ingredients of your choice!

Number of people: 4
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: Duration of the dinner

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