Spicy Chinese Dry Pot: Ma La Xiang Guo!

Written by The Kitchen Hand on . Posted in food

Ma La Xiang Guo is the ultimate Chinese delight which brings all the hues and dues to the table with its inspiring flavours and the super tempting appeal. It is not that traditional, at least not a hundred years old, yet its popularity in China and outside tells you a different story.

You will be amazed by knowing the list of the chains of restaurants serving this dish as their special. Some restaurants were only opened in China to serve nothing but Ma La Xiang Guo. And I think it speaks a volume about the binding taste of this recipe.

What Makes the ‘Chinese Dry Pot’ Special?

Those of you who are alien to Chinese cuisine would be delighted to know that Ma La Xiang Guo is mixed vegetables and meat recipe which is infused with tons of spices. To many, it is also known by the name ‘Chinese Dry pot.’

If you ever had to stay in Beijing, you would know how important this dish is and how people go crazy for its single platter. It is great for spice lovers. Plus, it suits both to vegan and non-vegans- how? Well, That’s the mystery we are about to reveal ahead!

Owing to the varieties of Ma La Xiang Guo available in China, this dish has itself become a complete genre. It is offered with seafood, red meat and even poultry. Using the same spices and vegetables you can adjust your vegetarian preferences. When all Guo restaurants provide you a menu for the meal, the list usually offers the same dish but slight variations.

But adding or substituting a few ingredients and changing the toppings you can enjoy a new twist every time.  And if going to a restaurant for a bowl full of Ma La Xiang Guo is too much effort for you then here is Good news! It can enjoy the same flavours right at home with the complete Guo recipe stated ahead.

What is so special about Ma La Xiang Guo? You may ask!

Well, you will start with the recipe, you will fall for the rich blend of spices which is used to prepare the special oil. Further, when this oil is cooked with the basic Chinese sauces, the deal becomes irresistible.

But wait! There is more. The heart-melting mix of vegetables used in combination with the meat is all we can drool for. Perhaps Ma La Xiang Guo is all-inclusive Chinese recipe which guarantee both the health and the epic spicy flavours.

Colors of Ma La Xiang Guo

Sichuan cuisine offers a variety of spicy pot stir-fries, the novelty of the Guo is the richness of its ingredients. Vegetables together with the special mala sauce, makes this recipe finger licking delicious. Before moving ahead to the actual recipe, the different varieties of Ma La deserves a special mention here.

This can give you some ideas on how to be creative with the original recipe. Since not everyone is accustomed to traditional Chinese flavours, it is important to learn ways to change the recipe as per our personal food preferences. Generally, Ma la Xiang Guo is served in following varieties:

Mala Shrimp: Shrimps are the emblem of luscious and nutritious seafood. They are best to add to all sorts of stir-fries. And when its mala Xian, adding the shrimp will tastefully enhance the flavours up to many folds.

You can either directly add the shrimp during the stir-frying of the vegetables and the mala sauce or marinate it with your favourite sauces first then add to the wok, this technique gives a juicier texture to the shrimp meat.

Mala Pork: Well, Mala pork is equally popular in China, Asia and several other regions of the world. Try adding pork from the tenderloin or any trimmed meat cut. Slice the pork into thin strips or roughly dice into cubes, as desired. Then add it to the stir-fry.

Again! By seasoning, the meat before cooking or letting it marinate for a while will infuse better flavours into each and every strand of the meat. You can enjoy this spicy Chinese dry pot mixture with freshly cooked rice.

Spicy mala beef: Spice up your dinner table with the spicy mala beef treat. That is right! You can cook this inspiring recipe using beef meat. To get the best culinary experience, try cooking the beef in the mala sauce until its completely tenderized.

Cut it into thin slices for quick cooking. Once you feel like the beef is done, add the vegetables to complete the dish. To add more variety, you also use cooked beef shred for the dish.

Mala Xiang Guo Recipe

Let’s not try your patience any further! Here is the complete Mala Xiang Guo recipe. We have used special fish balls which are commonly used in China and they are made out of fish paste. Whereas you can also try the fresh boneless fish meat chunks, chicken boneless strips, pork or beef.

Serves: 6 servings


For the spice-infused oil:

  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 3-star anise
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1 large dried orange peel
  • 2 pieces dried ginger or 5 slices of fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup dried red chilli peppers

For the vegetables:

  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 potatoes, sliced
  • 2 cups rehydrated wood-ear mushrooms, rinsed and drained
  • 3 long pieces of rehydrated tofu bean threads (Fuzhou), drained
  • 4-6 shiitake (rehydrated if using dried shiitake) mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • a handful of sliced lotus root

For the rest of the dish:

  • 2 tablespoon spicy red bean sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hot pot soup base sauce
  • 6 slices ginger
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup dried red chilli peppers
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • ¼ head cabbage, sliced
  • 1 7 oz. pack fish-balls
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • a handful of chopped cilantro


Start by preparing the vegetables first. Take any suitable cooking pot and fill it with water up to 2/3 full. Boil the water in the pot and add vegetables to blanch for few minutes then remove them immediately from the water.

Potatoes and carrots usually take usually longer duration to blanch. Keep the vegetables in an ice bath for 2 to 3 minutes then drain and keep them aside. (Note: Blanching is parboiling or half boiling of the vegetables, which is used to soften the vegetables without over tenderizing them)

The next step will be to make the spice oil. For that, take a medium sized wok and add oil. Heat this oil on low heat and start adding the spices one by one. Let them cook for 20 minutes on low heat.

Cooking on this heat for several minutes will allow proper infusion of flavours into the oil. The minute all the spices start to turn brown, turn off the heat and remove the spices from the oil using a slotted spoon.

The final steps require assembling. Heat the wok with the spiced infused oil on medium heat. Add ginger garlic, shallots, hot bean sauce and hot pot soup base sauce. Stir cook this mixture until the oil turns slightly red. Stir in cabbage, scallions and chilli peppers. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add fish balls, sugar, rice wine and blanched vegetables to the wok. Gently stir the mixture while sautéing. Cook for 2 minutes then adjust seasoning with salt. Your mala Xiang Guo is ready for serving. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and enjoy steaming white boiled rice.


China’s finest traditional delicacy can now be served at your table using a simple and quick recipe. mala Xiang Guo does not only sound exotic but its taste is also novel. That is why it served at every other good Chinese restaurant. Plus, the epic varieties of the dish make it a must-have for every occasion.

Whether you are seafood lover, enjoy meat or no meat, mala Xiang Guo can be cooked in every style. You can either add fish chunks, poultry, red meat or even diced up tofu to your food preferences.

It is such a rich mix of vegetables, spices and meat, that a single serving can guarantee all the macronutrients and a good number of calories. So, let’s make something not only tasty but also healthy with this basic Ma La Xiang Guo recipe.

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The Kitchen Hand

The Kitchen Hand

Your Personal In-House 'HOW TO' Gastro Master. From Slicing up A Pig for Christmas or Selecting Your Organic Ingredients for that Super Vegan Juice, The kitchen Hand Knows More Than You Might Think .
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