|Chinese Ma La Tang|
Continued from yesterday’s post…
When this dish got popular in China, its recipe spread to different regions. It seems, however, that different areas have adopted it differently, probably according to their own local taste. Just like outside China, all the Chinese cuisine has been adapted differently to the taste of each foreign country. :))
People in Northeast China say that the recipe for this hot and spicy pot is also slightly different to the original one. So, here is how I make it.
Well, saying that, the easiest way of making it is actually to buy the ‘sauce’ base from the Chinese supermarkets. They normally come in a big ‘sachet’, you just need to ‘squeeze’ it out, then boil it with water, and add in whatever the ingredients you like. You need to ask for ‘Ma La Tang’ soup base. If you do use them, I suggest you use half of the portion each time, or gradually add in, because it can be very very spicy!
Anyway, now, coming back to making it at home. I am showing the simplest version — not many seasonings, and not really ‘Tang’ either, rather just a ‘pot’. The advantages of making it your own, one is that it is more hygienic, as recently the hygiene of Ma La Tang sold in the small stores in China has been questioned, secondly, you can control how spicy you want it, rather than letting it burn your stomach. :)
The spicy taste I made is mainly from dried chili pepper (I also used crushed chili) and Sichuan peppercorn for the unique ‘cooler’ ‘numb’ Sichuan’ spicy taste. I made the soup first, but did not boil for hours though, then quickly added in the other ingredients, like green leaves, fensi, ‘paper tofu’, mushroom…
Here it goes:
For the soup base: Chili pepper, (I also used) crushed chili (optional), Sichuan peppercorn, bay leaves, anise star, cinnamon stick, ginger, cooking wine, salt, oil, cumin seeds, sesame paste, and sesame seeds, light soy sauce, sesame oil.
Other ingredients: Lettuce, Chinese leaves, button mushroom (but oyster mushroom is probably better), dried tofu sheet, fensi, coriander, black fungus (mu’re), fried tofu.
|Dried bean curd sheets|
1) Soak the Mu’re/ black fungus in warm water.
2) If you did not get fried tofu, you can make it at home from fresh tofu. Chop the tofu into small cubes, and deep fry them in oil.
3) Wash all the green leaves, don’t have to chop them, separate the leaves into individuals.
Slice a good size of ginger.
1) In a heated wok, add in around 4 tablespoons of oil (because we are not making it with any animal fat, so if it is needed, add in a bit more oil).
2) When the oil is hot enough, fry a teaspoon of crushed chili peppers or 3-4 dry red chili pepper and a small handful Sichuan peppercorn. (It depends on how spicy you like it to have.)
3) Allow the oil to get fully influenced by the chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn, add in water. (If you like, you can remove the chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn from the oil.)
4) Let the water boil, then add in a few anise stars, around 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 bay leaves, sliced ginger, 1 tablespoon of cooking rice wine, 2 full teaspoons of salt. Keep on boiling for another 10 minutes in low fire.
5) Then add in the dried tofu sheet, button mushroom (or oyster mushroom), soaked black fungus/Mu’re, fried tofu, and boil for around 5 minutes. Then add in 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, a small handful cumin seeds.
|Chinese spicy pot|
6) Then add in the lettuce leaves and Chinese leaves, coriander leaves and Fensi.
While keep on boiling, add in 2 big tablespoons of sesame paste. Boil for further 3-5 minutes. —–
—- Done!! Before serving, add in a few drops of sesame oil. Oh, when serving, prepare the spoons, as the soup is very delicious too and healthy! :)))