Yesterday was my brother’s birthday and I chose this year to purchase everything I needed to have Chinese steamboat at home. One tabletop burner, a few canisters of butane, one Japanese donabe (I also wanted to use it for other dishes), and one trip to the supermarket at Oriental City later …

The Steamboat Setup

… and steamboat! Also known as Chinese hotpot. If you don’t have a tabletop burner, there are electric steamboat pots available or you can even use an electric rice cooker, as many Chinese students know!

The Table

Gather together all your ingredients – we had beef balls, fish balls, thinly sliced beef and pork, Spam, firm tofu, Chinese leaf/cabbage, choi sum, and enoki mushrooms. Of course, you can toss in many other things – fish fillets, prawns, squid, chicken, homemade meatballs, scallops, potato slices, and many other vegetables!

In my family, we like to use plain water to start with as all the ingredients cooking in there will leave you with a delicious broth at the end. Other people use broth or you can shake things up with a tom yum soup base or a Sichuan chili and spice base (find readymade packs at your local Chinese market). You can cook noodles in there or crack in an egg or even stir in cooked rice at the end to make a kind-of porridge, in the Japanese style. We chose to just drink up the thick, sweet broth at the end of our meal. Dipping sauces are quite popular with the cooked food too – we had chili oil and a Japanese yuzu and soy sauce. With a potful of rice in the rice cooker, there was plenty of food for the three of us.

Set the water to boil and add in the raw ingredients as and when you’re ready. Then fish them out when they’re cooked. It’s healthy, it’s a great social dinner, and it’s easy. Go steamboat now!