Ma la xiang guo is a type of dry pot that originated from Sichuan in recent years, and it has become a trendy dish almost everywhere in China. Think a heap of your favorite veggies and meats in a Sichuan-style sauce that’s sweet, sour, spicy, savoury, and a couple pounds heavy. It puts basic broccoli and beef to shame. Dry pot is a young off-shoot from it’s grand cousin, hot pot, which enjoys international popularity and a millennia-old history. Hot Pot is a social experience; a pot on a burner is filled with soup, and raw ingredients are cooked communally by those sitting around it. Over time, the soup reaches new complexities from the ingredients cooked in it, and creates a flavor that can never quite be replicated again because every session is unique.
Every region of China claims to be hot pot’s hometown, and archeological evidence of old pots claimed as the earliest found hot pot is conjecture at best. Written records demonstrate it’s popularity across all classes and regions, already describing it as a foregone conclusion within the heart of China’s culinary and social traditions. Dry pot springs from this tradition, it’s the next evolutionary hack; if you don’t have time to make a soup base, or you wanna skip ahead to where the flavors are amazing; it’s dry pot.
Dry pot is essentially hot pot without the soup and the time investment. Similarly, you use whatever vegetables you want, and whatever meats you want, so both are great for clearing out the fridge. With dry pot, everything is cooked up together at once, so that you get all the borrowed flavors from the menagerie of ingredients from the get-go. It’s also a social experience, everyone sits around and shares the spoils, and it’s served with rice or noodles and dipping sauces if you like.
Our Sichuan Dry Pot Recipe
The recipe below is more of a recommendation based on what’s popular in Sichuan palettes for local dry pot. Feel free to amend or switch up everything as you like; note that the recipe calls for hardier ingredients, like potatoes or spare ribs, to be pre-cooked so that the dry pot elements all finish cooking together at the same time – you only get one shot. The one stipulation? You can only use as many ingredients as you can fit in your biggest wok or pan (or pot if you’re desperate, but careful – the tall edges may steam the food when you’re going for a sexy fry here.) Be sure to invite people and set a big table, it’s not truly dry pot unless you spend a couple hours eating, drinking (beer, rice wine), and shooting the breeze with your favorite humans. Tradition demands it.
prep: 45 mins + cook: 30 mins
Items marked with a * are included in our Sichuan Recipe Box.
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 large potato, sliced
1 small stalk of broccoli, in bite sized pieces, about 3.5oz or 100g
1 small stalk of cauliflower, in bite sized pieces, about 3.5oz or 100g
8 Shitake mushrooms
10 sliced lotus root pieces (optional)
14oz or 400g of your favorite meats, we recommend pork or beef, thick sliced. Others like shrimp, chicken wings, pork belly, etc. (remove if vegetarian, and double up on veggies or substitute with firm or crispy tofu)
Half pack of hot pot soup base sauce（火锅底料）*
3 thin slices ginger, about 1cm knob
4 cloves garlic, smashed
½ cup dried red chili peppers* (keep them whole to avoid the dish being too hot, adjust to your spice level)
2 scallions, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp cooking wine
½ Tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
A handful of chopped cilantro
1. Marinate your meat choice in 1 tbsp cooking wine and 1/2 tsp salt while you prep the vegetables.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and blanch all the vegetables (potatoes and carrots will take slightly more time), then transfer to an ice bath. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
3. Heat the largest wok or frying pan you have over low to medium heat. Add hot pot soup base sauce, ginger, garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, taking care not to burn the sauce.
4. Now add in the dried chili peppers and scallions. Stir and mix everything for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the marinated meat and stir-fry briefly until the meat is cooked. If you’re using several different types, note they may cook at different speeds.
6. Stir in the blanched root vegetables for 2 minutes.
7. Add the remaining vegetables and sugar. Stir-fry and mix everything well for 5 minutes. Salt to taste.
8. Transfer to a serving plate (or serve right from the wok), and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with plenty of steamed rice.