Ma La Xiang Guo, or Ma La Xiang Guo, is the ultimate Chinese delight that brings all the hues and dues to the table with its inspiring flavors and tempting appeal. It is not so traditional–which is to say it’s not a hundred years old–yet its popularity in and outside of China tells a different story.
You would be amazed to know the list 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 volumes 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 a mixed vegetable and meat recipe that 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 a single platter of it. It is great for lovers of spice. Plus, it suits both vegans and non-vegans. How? Well, That’s the mystery we are about to reveal!
Due to the varieties of Ma La Xiang Guo available in China, the dish itself has become a complete genre. It is offered with seafood, red meat, and even poultry. Using the same spices and vegetables, you can adjust it to your vegetarian preferences. While all Guo restaurants provide you with a menu for the meal, the list usually offers the same dish with slight variations.
By 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 the good news! The same flavors can be enjoyed right from home with the complete Guo recipe listed ahead.
What is so special about Ma La Xiang Guo?
Well, starting 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 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 something all we can drool for. Perhaps Ma La Xiang Guo is an all-inclusive Chinese recipe that guarantees both good health and the epic, spicy flavors.
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 good. Before moving ahead to the actual recipe, let’s go over the different varieties of Ma La.
This can give you some ideas on how to be creative with the original recipe. Since not everyone is accustomed to traditional Chinese flavors, it is important to learn ways to change the recipe as per our personal food preferences. Generally, Ma la Xiang Guo is served in the following varieties:
Mala Shrimp: Shrimps are the emblem of luscious and nutritious seafood. They are best to add to all sorts of stir-fries. When it comes to mala Xian, adding the shrimp will tastefully enhance the flavors to a whole new level.
You can either directly add the shrimp during the stir-frying of the vegetables and the mala sauce, or, marinate it with your favorite sauces first, then add it to the wok. The latter technique gives a juicier texture to the shrimp meat.
Mala Pork: Well, Mala pork is very popular in China and other regions of the world. Try using pork from the tenderloin or any trimmed-meat cut. Slice the pork into thin strips or roughly dice it 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, you can infuse better flavors into each and every strand of 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’s 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 it’s 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 can also use cooked, shredded beef for the dish.
Mala Xiang Guo Recipe
Let’s not test 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. You can also try the fresh, boneless fish meat chunks, boneless chicken 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 chili peppers
For the vegetables:
- 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 potatoes, sliced
- 2 cups re-hydrated wood-ear mushrooms, rinsed and drained
- 3 long pieces of re-hydrated tofu bean threads (Fuzhou), drained
- 4-6 shiitake (re-hydrated, 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 chili 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. Take any suitable cooking pot and fill it with water until it’s 2/3 full. Boil the water in the pot and add vegetables to blanch for a few minutes, then remove them immediately from the water.
Potatoes and carrots usually take a longer time to blanch. Keep the vegetables in an ice bath for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain and set them aside. (Note: Blanching is parboiling or half-boiling 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 this over low heat for several minutes will allow the proper infusion of flavors 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 chili peppers. Sauté for 2 minutes.
Add fish balls, sugar, rice wine, and blanched vegetables to the wok. Gently stir the mixture while sautéing it. Cook for 2 minutes, then adjust the seasoning with salt. Your mala Xiang Guo is ready for serving. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and steamed white rice.
China’s finest traditional delicacy can now be served at your table using this simple recipe. Mala Xiang Guo does not only sound exotic but also tastes novel in comparison to anything you’ve had before. That’s why it is 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 a seafood lover, meat lover, or vegetarian, mala Xiang Guo can be cooked in every style. You can either add fish chunks, poultry, red meat, or even diced tofu in accordance with your food preferences.
It is such a rich mix of vegetables, spices, and meat, that a single serving can guarantee plenty of macro-nutrients and healthy calories. So, let’s make something not only tasty but also healthy with this basic Ma La Xiang Guo recipe.