How to make mala soup for hotpot

August 26, 2020

Mala soup, known for its numbing and spicy flavors, is a popular choice for hotpot enthusiasts. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make mala soup for hotpot:


For the soup base:

  • Vegetable oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Sichuan peppercorns (2 tablespoons)
  • Dried chili peppers (4-6 pieces, adjust to your desired spice level)
  • Ginger (1-inch piece, sliced)
  • Garlic cloves (4-6, minced)
  • Scallions (2-3, chopped)
  • Chinese five-spice powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste) (2 tablespoons)
  • Pixian douban (broad bean chili paste) (2 tablespoons)
  • Chinese rice wine (1 tablespoon)
  • Chicken or vegetable broth (4 cups)
  • Water (2 cups)
  • Soy sauce (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt (to taste)

For the hotpot:

  • Assortment of vegetables (such as Napa cabbage, mushrooms, bok choy, bean sprouts)
  • Tofu (firm or soft, cubed)
  • Sliced meat or seafood of your choice (optional)
  • Noodles or rice cakes (optional)


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or a hotpot base pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, dried chili peppers, ginger, and garlic to the pot. Stir-fry them for a couple of minutes until fragrant, taking care not to burn them.
  3. Add the chopped scallions, Chinese five-spice powder, doubanjiang, and pixian douban to the pot. Stir-fry for another minute to release the flavors.
  4. Pour in the Chinese rice wine and stir well to combine with the other ingredients.
  5. Add the chicken or vegetable broth and water to the pot, followed by the soy sauce. Stir everything together and let the mixture come to a simmer.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. You can adjust the spice level by adding more or fewer dried chili peppers according to your preference.
  7. Taste the soup and season with salt as needed. Keep in mind that the saltiness can be adjusted based on the ingredients you'll be adding to the hotpot.
  8. Strain the soup using a fine-mesh sieve or remove the peppercorns and chili peppers using a slotted spoon, depending on your preference for spiciness.
  9. Prepare a variety of vegetables, tofu, meat, seafood, and noodles or rice cakes for your hotpot.
  10. Heat the mala soup base in a hotpot or a large pot on a portable burner at the dining table.
  11. Dip the prepared ingredients into the hot mala soup and cook them to your desired level of doneness.
  12. Enjoy the flavorful and spicy mala hotpot by dipping the cooked ingredients in your favorite dipping sauces.

Note: Mala soup can be quite spicy, so be cautious if you're not accustomed to high levels of heat. Adjust the amount of chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns to suit your taste.

Now you're ready to indulge in a delicious and fiery mala hotpot experience. Enjoy the interactive dining experience with family and friends, and savor the vibrant flavors of this popular Chinese hotpot soup.

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