Ma La Xiang Guo (麻辣香锅)

Ma La Xiang Guo (麻辣香锅)

Ma la xiang guo (麻辣香锅), which translates roughly to “spicy-numbing stir fry pot” is a newer Chinese dish that’s become wildly popular for its many delicious flavors. This dish is very heavily spiced, but thankfully most of the spices aren’t that hard to track down at your local Asian market. I can recommend Spicy King brand Spicy Sichuan Hot Pot Seasoning for the hot pot soup base (it’s sold in a bright red package in most Asian grocery stores). For hot bean paste, I recommend Lee Kum Kee, which is relatively easy to find here in the States and is consistent in flavor and quality. I used a mix of arbol and Facing Heaven chilies in this dish, but you can use whatever hot Asian chilies you prefer.

This recipe is mostly vegetables, but you can add whatever protein you like. If you opt to use meats like chicken, beef, or lamb, I recommend you marinate them with a little oil, cornstarch, and soy sauce first and sear them separately so they are cooked before you add them in with the rest of the ingredients. Fish balls or slices of firm tofu would work well in this dish for pescetarians and vegetarians (just add to wok along with the veggies- no marinating or extra cooking required).

Makes 4-6 servings.


For the vegetables:

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

For the spice-infused oil:

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 black cardamom (草果)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1 large dried orange peel
  • 2 pieces dried ginger (沙姜) or 5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried red chili peppers (keep them whole to avoid the dish being too hot)

For the rest of the dish:

  • 2 tablespoon spicy red bean sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hot pot soup base sauce(火锅底料)
  • 6 slices ginger
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup dried red chili peppers (keep them whole to avoid the dish being too hot)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 head Napa cabbage, sliced
  • 7 oz. protein of your choice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine


  1. Rehydrate dried mushrooms and bean threads; slice and set aside. Prepare and blanch all the other vegetables, transferring to an ice bath to stop cooking. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok over low heat, add all the spices, and let them infuse for 20 minutes, until all the spices start to brown. Turn off the heat, and use a slotted spoon to scoop out all of the spices.
  3. Heat the wok over low to medium heat. Add in the hot bean sauce, hot pot soup base sauce, ginger, garlic, and shallots. Cook for a couple of minutes until the oil turns red, taking care not to burn the sauce. Add in the dried chili peppers, scallions, and cabbage. Stir and mix everything for 2 minutes. Now stir in your protein (if using) and all the blanched vegetables, and add the Shaoxing rice wine and sugar. Stir-fry and mix everything well for two minutes. Transfer to a serving plate (or serve right from the wok), and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with plenty of steamed rice.