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.