For a true feast try Kylie Kwong's detailed recipe for a classic steamboat, a sensational combination of flavours and textures
By Kylie Kwong
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 10-12
  • Cook Time: plus simmering throughout the meal
  • Prep Time: plus 2 hrs marinating
  • Effort: hard



  • 700 g squid
  • 300 g pork fillet, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 300 g chicken breast fillets, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 300 g beef fillet
  • 400 g white fish fillets, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 12 raw king prawns, peeled and deveined but with tails intact
  • 1 fresh bamboo shoots
  • 18 live mussels, about 350g
  • 1 bunch of choy sum
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 Chinese cabbage
  • 150 g bean sprouts
  • 1/3 bunch of mint
  • 1/3 bunch of Thai basil
  • 1/3 bunch of coriander
  • 1/3 bunch of Vietnamese mint
  • 300 g fresh Hokkien noodles
  • 2 salted duck eggs
  • 12 scallops, cleaned but attached to their shells
  • 15 g fresh black cloud ear fungus
  • 75 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
  • 6 braised chinese dried mushrooms

For the squid marinade:

  • 2 large red chillies, halved lengthways, deseeded and roughly sliced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 6 tsp palm sugar
  • 4 tsp fish sauce
  • 8 tsp short fine strips of ginger
  • 4 tsp fresh lime juice

For the garlic and ginger paste:

  • 10 clove garlic, crushed
  • 50 g ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the pork marinade:

  • 80 ml hoi sin sauce
  • 4 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp chinese black vinegar
  • dashes of sesame oil

For the chicken marinade:

  • 4 tsp oyster sauce
  • 4 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • dashes of sesame oil

For the beef marinade:

  • 40 ml Chinese barbecue sauce
  • 4 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sichuan pepper and salt
  • dashes of sesame oil

For the fish marinade:

  • 8 tsp coriander stalks, including roots finely sliced
  • 4 tsp peanut oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar

For the prawn marinade:

  • 4 tsp lemongrass, finely diced
  • 15 g spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 tsp short fine strips of ginger
  • 4 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • dashes of sesame oil

For the stock:

  • 3 litres water
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and cut in half crossways
  • 10 clove garlic, crushed
  • 20 slices of ginger
  • 60 g galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • 8 tsp sea salt

For the dipping sauces:

  • 120 ml oyster sauce, mixed with 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 40ml each of hoi sin sauce, Chinese black vinegar and Chinese barbecue sauce
  • combine equal quantities of finely sliced salted radishes, and pickled mustard greens
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce


  • light soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • Chinese mixed pickles
  • large red chillies, finely sliced
  • lemon wedges
  • sichuan pepper and salt

Tips and Suggestions

"A traditional Chinese steamboat, where diners choose from an array of raw and marinated ingredients to dip into simmering stock, is a brilliant example of the art of interaction, of sharing and socialising," says Kylie. "Imagine your friends sitting around a ferociously steaming wok: their eyes will be treated to a vista of the freshest, most colourful food; their noses will be tantalised by the aromas of the most fragrant herbs; and their tastebuds will be rapt with the variety of tastes and textures. Because the meat is only lightly cooked, it is definitely preferable to use organic meats for a steamboat - the flavour will be so much better. Suitable fish include blue eye, snapper, halibut and sea bass. Salted radish and pickled mustard greens, which you'll need for the dipping sauces, are available at Chinese supermarkets, as are salted duck eggs."


1. Clean the squid by gently pulling head and tentacles away from the body. Pull out the clear backbone (quill) from inside the body and discard entrails. Cut tentacles from the head just below the eyes; discard head. Remove side wings and fine membrane from the body. Rinse body, tentacles and wings thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper.

2. Cut the squid down the centre so that it will open out flat. Using a small, sharp knife, score shallow diagonal cuts in a criss-cross pattern on the inside surface. Cut scored squid into 5x2.5cm pieces and place in a bowl.

3. To make the squid marinade, pound the chillies and salt into a rough paste with a pestle and mortar. Add the palm sugar, pound lightly, then stir in fish sauce, ginger and lime juice. Add the marinade to the squid in the bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

4. Place the pork, chicken, beef, fish and prawns in separate bowls, then set aside.

5. Prepare the garlic and ginger paste. Pound the garlic, ginger and salt together with a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Divide this paste between the pork, chicken and beef.

6. Add the five lots of marinade ingredients for the pork, chicken, beef, fish and prawns to their respective bowls. Thoroughly mix the contents of each bowl, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

7. To prepare the bamboo, cut the horn-shaped shoot in half lengthways, strip off the outer fibrous layers and then trim about 2cm off the base.

8. Cut into 5mm wide strips, add to a pan of cold salted water and then boil rapidly for at least 10 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Repeat this process of boiling from a cold-water start, draining and refreshing twice more to remove any bitterness. Set aside. (Any leftover bamboo can be placed in cold water and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days - it makes a delicious addition to stir-fries and braises.)

9. Scrub, debeard, rinse and drain the mussels; set aside.

10. Trim the ends from the choy sum, then cut crossways into 3 pieces and wash thoroughly; drain.

11. Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends, then peel the lower part of the stem and cut into thirds on the diagonal.

12. Discard the outer leaves of cabbage, then slice cabbage in half lengthways, remove core and cut crossways into about 4 pieces and wash thoroughly, pulling pieces apart to separate leaves.

13. Wash the beansprouts, mint, Thai basil, coriander and Vietnamese mint thoroughly; drain well. Pick sprigs from the herbs.

14. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add in the Hokkien noodles and blanch until 'al dente', about 4 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then thoroughly drain again.

15. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add in the salted duck eggs and boil for 9 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then peel and cut into quarters.

16. Arrange the bamboo, mussels, scallops, choy sum, asparagus, cabbage, beansprouts, herbs, noodles, duck eggs, black cloud ear fungus, shiitake and Braised Dried Chinese Mushrooms in simple serving bowls.

17. Place these on the table, along with the bowls of marinated meats and seafood.

18. About an hour before your guests are due to arrive, make the stock. Place the water in a large electric wok, about 35cm in diameter.

19. Add in the spring onions, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemon grass and sea salt and bring to the boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and set aside.

20. Finally, arrange all the dipping sauces and condiments in small bowls on the table, allowing two bowls of each.

21. When everyone is ready to sit down and eat, place the electric wok in the centre of the table. Reheat the stock and invite your guests to choose their own meat, fish and vegetables to cook in the simmering stock, before dipping them in their favourite sauces and condiments. Towards the end of the meal add the Hokkien noodles to the rich, full-flavoured stock.

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