Spicy and Numbly Hot Pot–Malaxiangguo (麻辣香锅)

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INTRODUCTION

When I posted this dish in the Facebook Group, the response was rather poor.. From there, I knew that many members of Facebook Groups may not even eaten this one wok dish before…

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However, it is rather popular nowadays in Singapore and the price can be rather steep.. It is most common in People’s Park hawker centre and some food court do sell such a dish…

Well, if you have never try the dish and you are wondering why the dish looked so messy, let me show you some pictures and cooking method and you will know how easy it is and can do it at a fraction of cost. The messiness is a style and uniqueness of the dish. Is it not steamboat are equally messy as well? Ha-ha

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At the store, people are queuing up to have their orders and I had a hard time to take pictures.

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In the refrigerator, there are lots of choices from mushrooms , many type of vegetables, meats, bean curd products, fish balls, meat balls,seafood and etc. This is exactly like when one orders from yong tau fu or steamboat stalls.. If the store allows you to choose the ingredients, it will be charged by weight.. Otherwise, you let the owner know, they will give you the relevant portion.

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They will then hand to the chef and the chef will cook the ingredients. You will be served with some hot rice and a one wok dish usually shared by the diners… The picture below is what we have ordered.. We have over ordered and it is a huge bowl that cost us S$18 for 2 persons. However, I would think that for 2 persons, an average of S$5 per person shall be adequate with a balanced mix of vegetables and meats.

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Essentially, there is no recipe for the ingredients as you can choose to mix and match any food that you liked and it can be vegetables or meats or savoury snack side items…It is only the sauces for the stir frying that create the difference with other dishes.. Even for the sauces, there are many optional ingredients except 2 most important ingredients : Chilli and Sichuan peppercorn..

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Malaxiangguo can be literally translated as “Spicy and numbly fragrant wok”.. A rather funny translation and apparently, English do not have an equivalent translation for these two sensations when mentioned as one. Even Wikipedia uses the “Mala” in its definition of Mala sauce. As per Wikipedia:

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Mala sauce is a popular oily, spicy, and numbing Chinese sauce which consists of Sichuanese peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil. Regarded as a regional dish for Chongqing cuisine and Sichuan cuisine, it has become one of the most popular sauces in Chinese cuisine and spawned many regional variants.  The term málà is a combination of two Chinese characters: “numbing” () and “spicy (hot)” (), referring to the feeling in the mouth after eating the sauce. The numbness is caused by Sichuan pepper.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mala_sauce)

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Yes, the numbness was caused by Sichuan peppercorns…. It is an aromatic spice that will numb your mouth for a while after you bite on the pepper corn.. So for the dish, i have explicitly telling the chef that I wanted my order to be “extra spicy but not numbly”, meaning I wanted him to put less Sichuan peppercorns..Until today, I still can’t get used to that numbing sensations in my mouth…He complied and cook my order in a less numbly manner but spicy hot..

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As per Wikipedia:

Sichuan pepper, also known as Chinese coriander, a commonly used spice in Chinese, Nepali, and Indian cuisine, is derived from at least two species of the global genus Zanthoxylum, including Z. simulans and Z. bungeanum.. Sichuan pepper is known in Chinese as huā jiāo.. Sichuan pepper’s unique aroma and flavour is not hot or pungent like black, white, or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth (caused by its 3% of hydroxy alpha sanshool) that sets the stage for hot spices. According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, they are not simply pungent; “they produce a strange, tingling, buzzing, numbing sensation that is something like the effect of carbonated drinks or of a mild electrical current (touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue). Sanshools appear to act on several different kinds of nerve endings at once, induce sensitivity to touch and cold in nerves that are ordinarily nonsensitive, and so perhaps cause a kind of general neurological confusion.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan_pepper)

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 3-4 adults (portion for the spices)

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Note: No quantities and type of ingredients will be listed here as I raid my fridge to come out with this..I have some bean curd puff, fish balls, xiao bai cai, pork belly stripes, minced pork , black fungus and etc..Feel free to use what suit your taste bud assuming you are ordering from the store.

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  • 20 dried chilli, cleaned and cut into small pieces *
  • 1 tablespoon of Sichuan pepper corn*
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds *
  • 5 cloves of garlics, sliced into small pieces *
  • 2 shallots, sliced into small pieces *
  • 5 stalks of fresh coriander, cut into long chunks
  • 2 cm ginger, slice into thick pieces *
  • 3 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted white sesame seeds.

Optional spices

  • 1 small cinnamon stick  *
  • Some bird eye chilli
  • 2 cardamom (preferably Chinese black cardamom) *
  • 2-3 cloves *
  • 1 star anise *
  • 1 tablespoon of minced fermented soya bean (preferably those with chilli from Sichuan)
  • 2 tablespoons of chilli sesame oil (can get in supermarket)

Seasonings:

  • 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wine
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste or other flavour enhancer

* – To be stir fry together

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a wok or frying pan, add cooking oil and sauté all the spices and herbs until fragrant. Add the fermented soya beans paste (if any), stir fry for 1 minutes and follow by all the fresh ingredients. The order of adding the ingredients are: raw meat, cooked meat, seafood, bean curd items, and lastly vegetable greens. Those vegetables that can withstand longer  hour of cooking like cabbage, French beans can be added earlier. Usually, it took about 5-8 minutes to stir fry these ingredients under high heat..

  • Add the seasonings, stir fry until well mixed. Dish up, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and drizzle with sesame oil and garnish sparingly with the fresh coriander and additional bird eye chilli.  Best served hot with a bowl of steamy white rice.

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Note: For all the ingredients, you can also blanch in hot water until semi cooked before you add to the wok. This will cut down the time of stir frying.


CONCLUSION

A rather long post and I hoped that I can convince you that the tastefulness  of this dish.. … Remember that the critical seasoning ingredients of this dish is chilli, Sichuan pepper corns, garlics, coriander leaves, ginger and fennel seeds..All the other ingredients can be optional if you do not have at home.  To make it as tasty as what you tasted in the stores, be high handed with your cooking oil and seasonings.. If you never try before, I would encourage you to give it a try and I believed it will suit most Malaysian and Singaporean readers’ taste buds.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 26 November 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts. Also follow me at INSTAGRAM for more personal sharing/

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One thought on “Spicy and Numbly Hot Pot–Malaxiangguo (麻辣香锅)

  1. Pingback: RECIPE INDEX ( Updated on 13 March 2015) | GUAI SHU SHU

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