Cantonese Steamboat (Hot Pot)

  • Active Time 15m
  • Total Time 50m

Serves 8

The Chinese Steamboat owes its beginning to the Mongols of northern China, more than 400 years ago. These nomadic peoples did not bequeath a great culinary heritage to Chinese cuisine, but the Mongolian hot-pot is a most important legacy. By the eighteenth century it had become a winter favorite in the Qing dynasty court and still remains and flourishes in all China's regions today.
It began as a simple way of cooking meats and vegetables. The thinly sliced meat is dropped with some leafy vegetables into a bubbling chicken soup contained in a specially designed pot (called a steamboat by the Cantonese, and a hot-pot or a fire kettle in other regions of China). It is placed in the middle of the table for finishing and serving. After a minute or two, the food is cooked and is lifted out and eaten with a variety of dipping sauces. When all the meat and vegetables are finished, cellophane noodles are added to the broth, resulting in a wonderful fragrant and flavorsome soup.


  • For the Meats:
  • 6 ounces lean chicken fillets, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces lean pork fillets, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces lean beef fillets, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh uncooked shrimp or mussels, clams, oysters or scallops, cleaned as necessary
  • 6 ounces any lean white fish, thinly sliced
  • For Vegetables:
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, Tianjin cabbage (wong buk), hearts of cabbage (choi sum), spinach or lettuce, washed, tough parts of stalk removed and cut into 4-inch lengths
  • 1/2 pound fresh white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1/4 pound cellophane noodles (fun si), soaked for 20 minutes in warm water, then cut into 6-inch lengths
  • For the Soup:
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 4 slices fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • Salt and pepper, to taste



  • GINGER SOY: Combine 1/2 cup light soy sauce with 2 teaspoons minced ginger and a few drops of sesame oil.

  • CHINESE MUSTARD: Combine 1/2 cup light soy sauce with 2 oz English or French mustard. Add 2 teaspoons peanut oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then add 2 to 3 drops vinegar.

  • HOISIN SAUCE: Combine 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce (available at Chinese stores), 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1/4 teaspoon vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce.

  • PEANUT SAUCE: Mix 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter with 1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 teaspoon tomato sauce.


    Place the steamboat with the soup in the middle of the table - preferably a round one, as all diners must be able to reach the pot in order to cook their own food.

    Arrange plates of the various, uncooked foods around the pot, and place the different sauces at strategic points on the table.

    The diners select their food and cook it by placing it into the boiling soup, for just a few seconds, and then scooping it out with a miniature wire basket or chopsticks. The food is then dipped in a sauce.

    The soup should be maintained at a rolling boil throughout the meal. It is also best to cook the meat before the vegetables, as it needs more time to cook and flavor the soup.

    Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.

  • RecID 2567

    nutrition information per serving

    250 calories; 6g total fat; 80mg cholesterol; 629mg sodium; 17g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 30g protein

    These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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