Soup Base for Mala Hot Pot (Mala Huo Guo)

Modern hot pot palace Huang Cheng Lao Ma is one of Chengdu's most famous hot pot restaurants and brands, which says a lot considering the number of mala hot pot places in the city. (It holds a special place in my heart as the first place I ever had hot pot, in 2007.) The chain has its own line of soup bases, which make having hot pot at home a quick and easy reality for family meals or entertaining (assuming you have an electric hot pot or a portable burner for the table). This base is a spicy but not overwhelming combo of ma (Sichuan pepper) and la (chili pepper and Pixian chili bean sauce), plus assorted spices, in a rapeseed (canola) oil base.

Note that there are no English instructions on the packaging, but you just add 5-6 cups water or chicken broth to the base to make the soup. For a large hot pot with two compartments, such as this or this, this package will only make enough for a half-pot, and you can fill the other half of the pot with a mild chicken-broth soup, as they often do in Sichuan. 

The package also suggests that you can use this tasty sauce as a stir-fry sauce for anything you like, and why not?

 

Producer: Huangcheng Laoma Foods Ltd., Pixian County, Sichuan
Size: 200 grams (7 ounces); makes 1 hot pot
Ingredients: Rapeseed (unrefined canola) oil, chili, Pixian chili bean paste, Sichuan pepper, cassia, star anise, cumin, spice, cooking wine, salt, yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, potassium sorbate.