Not for the faint hearted! This spicy Sichuan broth, known as Ma la (meaning numbing and spicy) in Asia will “trick” your senses and taste buds. With a combination of Sichuan peppercorns, dry chilies and chili powder this soup is HOT. Perfect for the colder seasons, it will warm you up instantly!
What makes this hearty broth so delicious is the combination of the different aromatics that gives it this umami flavor profile. And of course, like any soups, the longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste! Traditionally, Chinese soups are simmered over low fire for hours and hours to allow the flavors to develop.
What’s so special about a Spicy Sichuan Broth?
A special characteristic of a Sichuan Ma la Broth is the numbing and tingling effects caused by the Sichuan peppercorn. The peppercorns contain a molecule called hydroxy-alpha-sanshool that reduces the sensitivity of your tongue and lips.
So how to eat or accompany this spicy broth?
- With noodles, leafy greens, corn and lotus root for a more vegetarian version
- Served with dumplings and noodles
- Used as a hot pot base to cook meat, tofu and vegetables
- As a side soup
- Simply on its own
Tips & Tricks
- We opted for a chicken stock but feel free to use pork or vegetable stock instead. However, note that the choice of broth greatly affects the taste and consistency of the broth.
- Making your own stock will definitely yield a more flavorsome broth
- Ensure to skim the impurities and fat/oil that deposit on top of the broth for a clearer soup. You can also refrigerate the broth overnight so that the fat/oil solidify thus making it easier to skim off.
- You can easily freeze this broth for 1-2 months in an airtight container. Simply thaw it in the refrigerator 24 hours before use.
- You are in full control of the level of spiciness. If you want to up the heat, simply double up on the dried chilies, Sichuan peppercorn, chili flakes and chili oil. But if you want to mellow down the soup, add less chilies or add in red dates to add some sweetness to the broth.
Spicy Sichuan BrothCourse: From The Kitchen, HangryDifficulty: Easy
1kg chicken bone
2cm knob ginger, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1½ tbsp sichuan peppercorn
6 dried chilis
4 medium sized dried shiitake mushroom
⅓ cup spring onions, chopped 3cm long
½ tsp crushed chili flakes
Orange peel of ½ an orange
3 whole star anis
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp chili oil, for extra heat (optional)
4 dried Chinese red dates, optional
Salt and white pepper, to taste
- In a medium high heat pot, drizzle some vegetable oil and add the sliced garlic and ginger. Stir fry until aromatic.
- Then add in your chicken bones and allow to brown to develop flavor (about 5mins)
- Add in the water, cover your pot and allow it to come to a boil
- In the mean time, on medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of oil to a pan and stir fry the Sichuan peppercorn, dried chilis, star anise and orange peel until aromatic.
- Add in the aromatics as well as the crushed chili flakes, spring onions, shiitake mushroom, chili oil and red dates (if using any) to the chicken stock; cover your pot and allow the soup to simmer on low heat for at least 30mins. Skim your broth frequently and top it up with water if the liquid evaporates.
- Strain the broth using a sieve to get rid of the spices and serve. Voilà!
- If you do not tolerate spicy food; add in red dates to your broth to add some sweetness and mellow it down.
Recipe inspired by Healthy World Cuisine