Mala Xiang Guo (Spicy Numbing Stir-Fry)

Recently, I have been addicted to “mala xiang guo” (麻辣香锅) aka spicy numbing stir-fry, a dish of Sichuan origins. This is a great recipe for having lots of ingredients in one bowl and just like hot pot, it’s excellent for clearing the leftovers in the fridge. My family loves the home-cooked version which has the just the right amount of numbness (“麻”) from the Sichuan peppercorns and heat (“辣”) from the dried chillis.

Related Recipes:

Hai Di Lao Instant Mala Sauce
This recipe is the short-cut way of using instant mala sauce (pictured above). Until I learnt to make the sauce from scratch, I’m happy to use the instant sauce for now – fast, convenient and tasty!

Mala Xiang Guo Recipe
You can eat it with steamed rice or steamed bun (mantou). For me, I always eat it on its own since there is usually some form of carbs (such as noodles, potato) in the bowl (depending on what you use that day).

Mala Xiang Guo Recipe
If it’s your first time cooking this, there is only one advice – go very easy with the amount of ingredients used. Just use a little bit of everything. Otherwise, they may not all fit into the wok, making stir-frying difficult, or diluting the sauce. If there are a lot of ingredients which is usually the case, par-boil them before adding them to the wok. If you only have a few ingredients, you can dump everything into the wok (adding the harder food stuff first) to stir-fry directly.

Mala Xiang Guo Recipe

Mala Xiang Guo (Spicy Numbing Stir Fry) Recipe

Check out this (on-going) compilation list of ingredients suitable for mala xiang guo including its prep work.

Dried chilli with its milder and smokier flavour than fresh chilli, are recommended for this dish. For moderately hot (中辣; this recipe), use 14-18 dried chilli. For mildly hot (小辣), use 4-8 chilli and for very hot (大辣), use as many chillis as desired.

If you only have a few ingredients, you can skip the par-boiling at step 1. Just dump everything into the wok (adding the harder food stuff first) to stir-fry directly.


  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 14 dried chilli cut to small pieces; to taste
  • 1 x 110 grams packet of instant mala sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce to taste
  • 1 tsp fish sauce to taste

(A) Vegetables and Meat

  • 6 pork balls
  • 4 baby corn sliced to smaller sections
  • 2 king mushrooms sliced thinly
  • 4 shiitake mushroom caps sliced thinly
  • 50 grams Korean sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon) soaked in a bowl of water until softened; drained just before using
  • 50 grams lotus root peeled & thinly sliced; soak in a bowl of water; drained just before using
  • 4 small pieces dried black fungus soaked in hot water until softened; drained
  • 2 sticks (about 15 grams) dried beancurd skin (tau kee) soaked in water until softened then cut to bite-sized pieces; drained
  • 50 grams broccoli florets
  • 50 grams trimmed enoki mushrooms
  • 80 grams round cabbage sliced to 2 cm widths
  • 2 bundles of baby bok choy or nai bai cut to simaller pieces
  • 100 grams thinly sliced pork preferably with some fats on cut to shorter sections


  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • a few leaves coriander roughly chopped

You also need

  • a large wok


  1. Par-boil the ingredients. Add water to wok and bring to boil. Add the first 9 ingredients in (A) to cook for 2 minutes, followed by the next 4 ingredients in (A) for another minute. Drain and set aside.
  2. Fry the aromatics. Heat oil in wok. Stir fry garlic and chilli until aromatic. Add the mala sauce and stir fry briefly until fragrant, about a minute or two.
  3. Add the sumptuous ingredients. Add the parboiled ingredients at Step 1. Stir fry until almost cooked, then add pork slices, soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir fry briefly until everything is cooked and well-mixed. Season to taste.
  4. Garnish and serve. Transfer the contents to a large serving bowl, sprinkle chopped coriander and peanuts over. Serve with steamed rice, steamed bun (mantou) or eat it on its own.