Malatang Hot Pot Recipe (Spicy and Non-Spicy Versions)

Malatang is a popular street food in China that is very similar to hot pot. Mala means numbing and spicy. Tang means to boil or blanch. Basically it is a bunch of different ingredients cooked in a spicy and numbing soup base. In this video, I will show you everything, including how to make the broth, how to make the spicy and numbing flavor base, and I will also give you a non-spicy version for the people who can’t handle spicy food. Let’s get started.

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Malatang Hot Pot (Spicy and Non-Spicy Versions)





  • Thinly sliced beef
  • Beef tripe
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Fried tofu puffs
  • Lettuce
  • Baby bok choy
  • Beef meatballs
  • Fu Zhou style fish meatballs
  • Fried fish cake
  • Taiwan style sausage
  • Sweet potato noodles
  • The spicy and numbing flavor base
  • The bone broth that we made before
  • Salt to taste
  • Diced garlic
  • Diced scallion
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Hot oil for the non-spicy Ma La Tang


Make the bone broth (Gu Tang 骨汤)

  • It is the basic structure for Ma La Tang. You can definitely take a shortcut by using store-bought stock. The amount that I gave is enough to make 6 liters of stock. We only need 3 liters in this recipe. I just like to make extra so I can freeze it and use it whenever I want.
  • Soak 2 lb of chicken bone, 2.5 lb of pork femur bone, and 2.5 lb of beef femur bone in clean water for 3 hours.
  • 3 hours later, the water becomes red. Take the bones out. Discard the water as it will affect the quality of the stock.
  • Put the bones in a big pot with clean water. Bring it to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, discard the water again. This step is called 焯水 in Chinese, which means blanch. However, there are people that don’t agree because they don’t want to waste the flavor. So it is totally up to you.
  • I prefer to take the bones out and discard the water again because I believe the bloody foam and impurities will affect the broth. Clean the pot and fill it up with new clean water. Add the bones back to the pot. Turn the heat to high. Bring this to a boil. Check the top of the water and see if there are any impurities floating around. Mine is really clean, so I don’t need to do anything. Just turn the heat to low, Let it simmer for 2 hours.
  • While waiting, put the following spices in a spice bag: 1 star anise, 1 small piece of cinnamon stick, 1 black cardamom, 1 piece of bay leaf, 2 pieces of cloves, 1 tbsp of Gan Cao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis, also known as Chinese liquorice. It can be replaced by a stalk of sugar cane.), 3 slices of dried sand ginger, 1 piece of dried galangal, 1/2 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns. The spices that I showed here, some of them might be hard to find in your country. It is ok to skip a few. Don’t worry, you not gonna ruin the dish.
  • Once the stock has been simmered for 2 hours, you can add the spice bag and keep simmering for another 1 hour. The reason I didn’t add the spices in the beginning is that the aroma can be volatilized during a long time simmering.
  • Another 1 hour past, the broth is done. It should have a slight milky white color. You just take out the bone and meat. Sieve out the practicals and set it aside. There should be some fat floating on the top, You don’t need to skim it now. It will set if you put it in the fridge then you can easily remove the fat.

Make The Spicy And Numbing Flavor Base

  • The ingredient list for this part is huge. It is getting quite complicated so it is ok to buy the hot pot flavor package. One important note for you is do not to buy the ones that the oil is solidified at room temperature. Ma La Tang is like a hot pot but served in a big bowl without the stove. If you didn’t eat it right away. The oil will set and trust me, solidified palm oil does not taste good. So, be sure to buy the hot pot base that the oil is liquid form at room temperature.
  • Usually, an authentic hot pot base will use several kinds of chili powder to adjust the heat, the color, and the flavor. These are the types that I am using today: 1/3 cup of paprika for the bright red color, 1/3 cup of mild chili powder, 2 tbsp of face heaven chili powder (朝天椒). This is extremely spicy. If you can’t find face heaven chili powder, you can use Thai Bird’s Eye chili powder or cayenne.
  • Combine 3 kinds of chili powder and pour in some cooking wine in batches. The chili powder is so fine, it will get burned easily when you add it to the oil. The cooking wine will protect the chili powder so it has more time to transfer the flavor to the oil.
  • In a spice blender, add the following ingredients: 1 piece of cinnamon stick, 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds, 1 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns, 1 tbsp of Gan Cao, 4 pieces of clove, 1 piece of black cardamom, 1 piece of dried galangal, 4 slices of dried sand ginger, 1 piece of star anise, 2 pieces of bay leaf. Grind everything into a fine powder. Same as before, Pour some cooking wine to wet the spices. Mix well. Set it aside.
  • In a food processor, add 45 grams of ginger, 15 cloves of garlic (60 grams), and 4 pieces of pickled chilies. Blend them first. You have to use a spatula to scrape down the side a couple of times. Continue by adding 1/3 cup of Pi Xian Dou Ban Jiang, 1/3 cup of fermented black soybeans (Dou Chi 豆豉), 1/3 cup of fermented sweet rice (Jiu Zao 酒糟). Jiu Zao can be replaced by 3 tbsp of Japenese mirin and 2 tbsp of cooking wine. Continue to blend everything into a paste, the finer, the better. Set it aside.
  • Soak 1/4 cup of Sichuan peppercorns in water for 40 minutes. Soak 1 cup of dried red chilies in water for 40 minutes as well.
  • Add 1 cup of beef fat and 2 cups of vegetable oil to the wok. Add all the previews ingredients that we prepared before. Keep stirring over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove it from the heat. Add some salt and sugar to taste. Stir to mix well. Give it a try to adjust the flavor and your Ma La Tang base is done.
  • Add some bay leaves and whole star anise on the top as decoration. Store in the container. The amount that I gave should be enough to make 5-6 Ma La Tang. Each one should be able to serve 2-3 people. It can stay good for 4 months in the fridge and 8 months in the freezer.

Assemble the Malatang

  • This part is flexible. Just use whatever you want. These are the ingredients that I prepared: thinly sliced beef, book tripe, beef meatballs, Taiwan style sausage, fried fish cake, Fu Zhou style fish meatballs, baby bok choy, lettuce, a couple of types of mushrooms, fried tofu puffs, sweet potato noodles (soaked in water 1 hour in advance).
  • To make the spicy and numbing Ma La Tang (红汤麻辣烫): Take some of the ma La Tang flavor base. Add it the wok along with 1-2 liters of the stock that we made before. Add some salt to adjust the flavor. Cook the ingredients in the spicy soup until done. Serve in a big bowl. Enjoy!
  • To make the non-spicy Ma La Tang (白汤麻辣烫): Cook all the ingredients in the bone broth that we made before. Add some salt to adjust the flavor. Serve in a big bowl. Top some diced scallion, diced garlic, toasted sesame seeds. Pour some hot oil to activate the aroma. Enjoy!


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