How To Make Chilli Beef Hotpot at Home


 Chilli Beef Hotpot, known as "Mala Xiang Guo" in Mandarin, is more than just a dish; it's a fiery, flavorful journey into the heart of Sichuan cuisine. This article invites you to explore the captivating world of Chilli Beef Hotpot, from its vibrant history to the sensory symphony of its ingredients and flavors.

How To Make Chilli Beef Hotpot at Home

A Culinary Odyssey from Sichuan:

Originating from the bustling streets of Chongqing and Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China, Chilli Beef Hotpot is an icon of the region's bold, aromatic, and spicy cuisine. Its name, "Mala," perfectly encapsulates the essence of the dish: "ma" for numbing, induced by Sichuan peppercorns, and "la" for the fiery spice of dried chili peppers.

The Ingredients Dance:

1. Thinly sliced, marbled beef: Tender and flavorful, the beef is the star of the show, absorbing the vibrant flavors of the hotpot.

2. A vibrant bouquet of fresh vegetables: Bell peppers, mushrooms, baby corn, and Chinese cabbage bring color, texture, and freshness to the dish.

3. Sichuan peppercorns: These tiny powerhouses provide a unique numbing sensation, an integral part of Sichuan cuisine.

4. Dried red chili peppers: Fiery and bold, these peppers infuse the hotpot with their distinctive heat.

5. Garlic and ginger: Minced to perfection, they contribute aromatic depth to the dish.

6. Scallions: Fresh and pungent, they serve as a fragrant garnish.

7. Sesame oil: This rich, nutty oil adds complexity to the sauce.

8. Soy sauce: For that signature umami flavor.

9. Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste): Offering a savory, slightly salty punch.

10. Chicken or vegetable broth: The base that ties everything together.

11. Shaoxing wine (optional): An extra layer of flavor.

12. Sugar: Balancing the heat with a touch of sweetness.

13. Cooking oil: The canvas upon which these flavors are painted.

14. Cornstarch (optional): For those who prefer a thicker sauce.

A Choreography of Flavors:

Creating Chilli Beef Hotpot is a sensory experience. The cooking process is a symphony of sizzles, aromas, and harmonious blending of flavors:

1. Preparation: Begin by slicing the beef, chopping the vegetables, and mincing garlic and ginger.

2. Sichuan Sensation: Toast the Sichuan peppercorns to release their fragrance before incorporating them into the dish.

3. Fiery Prelude: Combine dried red chili peppers, garlic, and ginger in hot oil to set the stage for the fiery dance of flavors.

4. Umami Interlude: Introduce Doubanjiang to add depth and complexity to the composition.

5. The Star Takes Center Stage: The beef takes its turn in the spotlight, browning beautifully in the wok.

6. Vegetable Ensemble: Enter the mixed vegetables, their colors, and the textures that intertwine.

7. Saucy Crescendo: Craft a savory sauce with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar.

8. Broth Connection: Introduce chicken or vegetable broth to unite the ingredients.

9. Optional Harmony: Shaoxing wine adds a sophisticated note to the composition.

10. Thickening Finale: If desired, thicken the sauce with cornstarch, bringing the performance to a satisfying conclusion.

Tips and Variations:

How To Make Chilli Beef Hotpot at Home


1. Adjust the Spice Level: The level of spiciness can be adjusted to suit your taste. If you prefer a milder dish, use fewer dried red chili peppers or remove the seeds to reduce heat.

2. Sichuan Peppercorns: Toast the Sichuan peppercorns before adding them to the hotpot. This enhances their flavor and aroma. Remember to remove any excess seeds to control the numbing effect.

3. Beef Selection: Choose cuts of beef that are well-marbled, as they'll be more tender and flavorful. Flank steak or ribeye are excellent choices.

4. Marination: Marinating the beef slices in a mixture of soy sauce and Shaoxing wine for 15-30 minutes before cooking can add depth of flavor.

5. Cook in Batches: If you're making a large batch, consider cooking the ingredients in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, which can lead to steaming rather than stir-frying.

6. Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh and crisp vegetables to retain their texture and color.

7. Customize Vegetables: Feel free to experiment with different vegetables based on your preferences. Bok choy, broccoli, and bean sprouts are all great options.

Variations :

1. Seafood Hotpot: Replace beef with a variety of seafood like shrimp, scallops, and fish fillets for a seafood-themed hotpot.

2. Vegetarian Hotpot: Skip the meat altogether and load up on a variety of mushrooms, tofu, and seitan for a hearty vegetarian version.

3. Spicy Broth: Instead of using plain chicken or vegetable broth, you can make a spicy and aromatic broth by adding more dried red chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns. Simmer the broth for longer to intensify the flavors.

4. Noodles: Add cooked noodles, such as udon or glass noodles, to the hotpot for a more substantial meal.

5. Sauce Bar: Set up a sauce bar with condiments like soy sauce, black vinegar, chili oil, and minced garlic. Diners can customize their own dipping sauces for added flavor.

6. Protein Choices: Experiment with different proteins like chicken, pork, lamb, or even thinly sliced duck for unique variations of hotpot.

7. Vegan Options: Make a vegan version by substituting the meat with plant-based protein alternatives like tempeh or seitan.

8. Cilantro and Peanuts: Garnish with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts for extra texture and freshness.

9. Egg Swirl: Crack a beaten egg into the hotpot just before serving for a silky egg swirl effect.

10. Sichuan Chili Oil: Drizzle homemade or store-bought Sichuan chili oil over the hotpot for an extra kick of spice.


  • For the Hotpot Base:
  • - 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • - 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • - 10-15 dried red chili peppers (adjust to your spice preference)
  • - 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • - 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • - 2 tablespoons Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
  • - 1 pound (450g) thinly sliced beef (e.g., flank steak or ribeye)
  • - 4 cups mixed vegetables (bell peppers, mushrooms, baby corn, Chinese cabbage, etc.)
  • - 2-3 scallions, chopped
  • - 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • - 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • - 1 teaspoon sugar
  • - 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • - 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (optional)
  • - 2 tablespoons cornstarch (for thickening, optional)

How To Make Chilli Beef Hotpot at Home


1. Prepare the Ingredients:

   - Slice the beef thinly and set it aside.

   - Chop the mixed vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

   - Mince the garlic and ginger.

   - Remove the seeds from the dried red chili peppers if you want a milder heat.

2. Toast the Sichuan Peppercorns:

   - Heat the cooking oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.

   - Add the Sichuan peppercorns and toast them until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Remove and discard the peppercorns or leave them in for added numbing flavor, depending on your preference.

3. Infuse Flavor with Aromatics:

   - Add the dried red chili peppers, minced garlic, and minced ginger to the oil. Stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant and the oil turns red.

4. Incorporate Fermented Bean Paste:

   - Stir in the Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste) and cook for another minute to release its flavors.

5. Cook the Beef:

   - Add the thinly sliced beef to the wok and cook until it changes color and is no longer pink. This should take around 2-3 minutes.

6. Optional: Add Shaoxing Wine:

   - Pour in the Shaoxing wine if you're using it. Stir to combine and cook for another minute to let the alcohol evaporate.

7. Add Vegetables:

   - Toss in the mixed vegetables and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften slightly.

8. Prepare the Sauce:

   - In a bowl, mix together the sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar to create the sauce.

9. Combine and Simmer:

   - Pour the sauce over the hotpot ingredients in the wok.

   - Add the chicken or vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.

   - Let the hotpot simmer for 5-7 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

10. Optional Thickening:

    - If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Add it to the hotpot and stir well. Simmer for a few more minutes until the sauce thickens.

11. Serve:

    - Transfer the Chilli Beef Hotpot to a serving dish, garnish with chopped scallions, and serve it piping hot.

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