Chinese New Year (CNY) Reunion Dinners just hit differently with a heartwarming, stay-home meal – especially with a CNY Steamboat. Forget about Hai Di Lao and other steamboat (or hotpot) spots that might break the bank. Especially with the pandemic, intimate and small CNY family gatherings are going to be the norm this 2021.

We’ve compiled a list of essential CNY steamboat ingredients that will make your steamboat extra easy this Chinese New Year. You may add your own special ingredients to make this dish more festive and flavourful!

Best CNY Steamboat Ingredients 2021

Steamboat is a traditional hotpot dish that uses steam and soup to cook the ingredients. This method of cooking retains the nutrition of the ingredients as compared to deep-frying, barbecuing and heavy grilling.

It is also convenient as CNY steamboat ingredients can be easily prepared at home or bought at your  neighbourhood wet market, mini mart, favourite hypermarket or supermarket.

For many, a steamboat is simply a perfect, must-have meal for Chinese New Year reunion dinner. It’s foolproof, and family members get to enjoy the cooking process together during a joyous occasion. 

delicious gordon ramsay GIF by Masterchef

Most importantly? You can never go wrong with a steamboat, even if you’re a complete cooking noob. The pot will turn out absolutely delicious with the more ingredients you add!

TLDR; Ultimate Guide to CNY Steamboat Ingredients 2021

  • Beef slices
  • Chicken slices
  • Pork belly 
  • Pork collar 
  • Meatball
  • Sausages
  • Luncheon meat
  • Garoupa
  • Tilapia
  • Salmon
  • Dory fish
  • Cod fish
  • Halibut
  • Monkfish
  • Sea bass
  • Ikan Kuning (yellowtail) 
  • Scallops
  • Lobsters
  • Crayfish
  • Prawns
  • Squid
  • Oysters
  • Sea cucumber
  • Silken tofu
  • Firm beancurd (tau kwa)
  • Fried beancurd (tau pok)
  • Cheese tofu
  • Seafood tofu
  • Chicken eggs
  • Quail eggs
  • Lettuce
  • Bok choy
  • Spinach
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Sweet corn
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Radish
  • Winter-melon
  • Potato
  • Yam
  • Pumpkin
  • Lotus root
  • Shitake
  • Enoki
  • Shimeiji
  • Portobello
  • Button
  • Oyster
  • Yellow noodles
  • Glass noodles
  • U-mian
  • Kuay Teow
  • Sesame oil
  • Oyster sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Peanut sauce
  • Chili sauce
  • Tomato sauce

1. Meat

Tripe and meat
Image credit:

Let’s start with the essential – the protein!

Meat is a must-have in steamboats since they add more flavour to the broth. Popular ingredients include chicken, pork, lamb and beef slices. There are different cuts like pork belly, pork collars, depending on your preference and taste. Having these meats thinly sliced ensures that they are able to cook quickly for immediate enjoyment. Alternatively, there are also meatballs for bite-sized goodness.

Tripe is also another steamboat ingredients that is considered an acquired taste. Tripe is made from the stomach lining of cattle such as sheep, cow, goat, pig. It also includes the innards such as kidneys, liver, stomach, blood. While tripe may not look all too appetising, once cooked in the steamboat, it has a delectable taste of its own, especially when dipped in the right sauce.

Tip: depending on the cut of meat, they take an average of 30 seconds to be cooked thoroughly. Remember not to overcook or undercook them!

2. Seafood

Fresh fish from the market

The fresher it is, the better it is.

Seafood is one of the main ingredients in CNY steamboats that makes hotpots a pure gastronomical heaven. The trick is to get the fish fresh from the wet market or make friends with the fisherman at the jetty who will provide you the freshest catch of the day. Then, throw it into your icebox with some ice on your way home and place it in the freezer immediately once home.

On the other hand, frozen fish from the hypermarkets or supermarkets may not be as good tasting as fresh fish. But when time is of the essence, frozen fish will do as well. If you have kids in the family, they’ll definitely enjoy some ingredients like fish balls, squid balls! Also available are fish cakes, dumplings and the very special “Foo Chow” fish balls with juicy bits of tender meat in its centre that make it extra delicious.

Seafood is a symbol of prosperity and including it in a steamboat augurs well for an auspicious Chinese New Year. Other types of seafood that will make your steamboat sensational are prawns, also known as “har” in Cantonese will keep you laughing “har, har” all year. There’s also abalone to usher in abundance, the list is endless.

Tip: remember to clean the fish carefully to remove any grit or grime before placing them into the steamboat, except for canned abalone. For families concerned about maintaining a healthy cholesterol level, it is recommended to include more fish and less of other seafood.

3. Tofu

The best tasting tofu is the homemade ones that you can buy at local Chinese restaurants. The store-bought tofu does just as well, whether you prefer local or Japanese tofu, meat stuffed or fish stuffed “yong Sufi”, regular or firm tofu, tofu puffs also known as “taufu pok”. They are healthy additions to your steamboat.

Tofu is also high in protein and easily digestible, making it perfect for babies and toddlers to enjoy a steamboat with the whole family.

4. Eggs

Chicken and quail eggs

Eggs make the steamboat broth creamier and thicker in texture, giving you a hearty slurp every time you sip from your soup spoon. Simply crack the eggs and pour them in when the broth is frothing and wait for bubbly eggy goodness.

Another all time favourite is quail eggs that are boiled separately and placed into the broth. Eggs are a symbol of renewed growth, fertility and vitality.

5. Assortment of Vegetables

If you are a veggie lover, a steamboat is a wonderful way to savour every vegetable you enjoy. Vegetables are the healthiest ingredients in a steamboat, so the more, the merrier. They help to balance out the flavours of the soup broth that’s mixed with heavier additions like seafood or meats.

From leafy greens to root vegetables, you will be spoiled for choice, as almost every vegetable is great for steamboats. Popular choices include Chinese lettuce, cabbage, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, eggplant, bell peppers, corn, tomato winter melon and many more.

Root vegetables including carrot, radish, turnip, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, lotus root are all amazing additions to steamboat.

Tip: the trick is not to cut them into too small pieces lest they dissolve entirely in the broth and you’ve nothing left to munch and crunch.

6. Mushrooms 

Mushrooms and vegetables
Image credit:

Don’t underestimate the power of mushrooms. They are the MVP of the steamboat as they add so much sweetness to the broth.

Fresh or dried Chinese mushrooms, Japanese mushrooms, Shitake, Maitake, Enoki, Shimeiji, Portobello or button mushrooms, are essential ingredients in every steamboat. A few minutes in the broth and they are ready to eat. Mushrooms are another healthy choice for health conscious eaters and are delicious when added to steamboats.

7. Noodles and soup basesNoodles and vermicelli

Noodles symbolise longevity and are usually added at the end of the feast as they tend to be quite filling. Yellow noodles, vermicelli, kuay teow and tang hoon are the local favourites.

The soup base is the all-important ingredient that will bring out the best flavours in all the other ingredients. Popular on the menu is the Chinese clear soup perfected by adding chicken or fish stock, preferable home brewed. However, many families use the chicken or fish stock cubes or concentrated soup stock granules available from the supermarket and that works just as well. Today, choices of steamboat soup base range from miso, tom yum, kimchi, Sze Chuan or ‘Ma La’ for that extra spicy kick.

Better yet, the modern hot pots have separate segments for different types of soup bases so everyone can enjoy the different soup broths as one goes. The recommendation is to have separate steamboat hot pots for different soup bases so the flavours do not intermingle and taste is not compromised. Using clay pots for steamboats are preferred rather than the metal hot pots as clay pots are able to retain the heat and taste better.

8. Oil and condiments

Variety of sauces

For added flavour, a few drops of sesame oil will do wonders to the broth. An essential item in Chinese cooking, sesame oil is a familiar sight in kitchens and is revered not just for its taste, but also as its nutritional benefits. High in protein, it is low in sodium, reduces cholesterol, good for digestion and promotes healthy skin.

The ingredients in steamboat are usually complemented by a full array of condiments and dipping sauces. Be it something sweet, sour, salty or simply all-3 tastes in one,Malaysians love their condiments and dipping sauces. A sprinkle of garlic powder or onion powder, freshly chopped garlic, a few sprigs of parsley, chopped spring onions, freshly chopped chilies or chili padi would be enough to complement the steamboat.

For the truly adventurous Malaysians, choose from sauces such as hoisin sauce, plum sauce, peanut sauce, caramel sauce, chili sauce, tomato sauce, garlic pepper sauce, BBQ sauce, Sze Chuan sauce. It is also common to have sambal belacan or homemade chili paste as a dipping sauce.

CNY Steamboat Feast Malaysia 2021

A few etiquette rules will make your steamboat feast trouble-free. The idea is to provide ample cutlery such as ladles, slotted ladles, soup spoons, chopsticks, forks, spoons and knives so no sharing is necessary. Ample tableware such as sauce bowls, soup bowls and plates for every guest will ensure a happier steamboat occasion.

Preparing Chinese New Year steamboat ingredients is now easier. While many families may have more than 20 ingredients in their steamboat, this easy s.t.e.a.m.b.o.a.t. list of ingredients will enable even an amateur chef to transform into an almost Michelin star master chef of steamboat.

If you’re looking for the perfect electronics or tableware for your stay-home hotpot party, look no further than these CNY deals with ShopBack. You can also find delectable dessert treats to complement your steamboat experience.

We hope you’ll enjoy a sensational steamboat feast this Chinese New Year. Tell us your special recipe or ingredients that make your steamboat more delicious!