What is Malatang, or Spicy Hot Pot?| Bokksu Market

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What is Malatang, or Spicy Hot Pot?

by Krystina Quintana

The hot pot sensation is in! From samggyup, shabu shabu and to malatang. This hot and spicy broth is the perfect meal during these chilly days and nights. Compared to the traditional hot pot where diners share and cook them over a private table. You can find malatang in a line of street food where ingredients are cooked in a communal pot, and you just pick the ingredients for your customized malatang bowl. You can eat it on the spot or have it taken home.

Malatang hot pot and a side of rice.

Where does Malatang come from and Why it's Created?

Malatang is a quick hot pot version originating from Sichuan, China. Back in the ancient days, boating was a paramount business and several people made a living out of towing boats. During the winter season, workers have to weather the damp and foggy season which makes them very sick. That is why, when workers were hungry, they would only cook herbs, and put Sichuan pepper, and ginger into boiling water to make a soup, in order to refuel them. This is where Malatang was created and has spread its influence across Korea, Japan, and all over Asia. Eventually, they added other seasonings, like chilis, star anise, green Sichuan pepper, chili bean paste, and more.

The name malatang literally means a "spicy numbing hot soup". The primary ingredient of this broth is the mala soy sauce. Ma symbolizes the numbing flavor, while the la represents the dried chili pepper. After every sip of this mild hot pot broth, it creates a numbing hot sensation in your mouth.

Malatang has been a staple to Chinese children and adults alike. With its health and nutritional benefits and its fiery tasting sensation, now wonder if this hot and spicy Sichuan hot pot soup base is a meal to behold!

Below, you'll learn more about malatang and what makes this Chinese soup so addictive that it's now a staple in Korea. 

What is Malatang Hot Pot Broth?

This spicy Sichuan hot pot is typically served as a street food. It is cooked in a boiling broth or in a spicy broth base. It consists of sliced meats, veggies, minced garlic, dried chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, mung bean noodles, and all the spices for this soup broth.

The fusion of ingredients in this hot pot meal creates a tongue-numbing effect. From the chili oil, Sichuan pepper, dried chilies, peppercorns, garlic, and other spices in this Chinese cooking, this spicy Sichuan hot pot soup base is a surefire way to tantalize your tastebuds.


Is This The Same With the Traditional Hot Pot?

The Sichuan Malatang differs from other hot pot versions. This hot and spicy broth is almost similar to what you call a hot pot meal in Northern China.

There are some major differences between traditional hot pots and malatang. For example, a traditional hot pot soup base is served at a table to be shared by a group of people. On the other hand, Sichuan Chinese hot pot is a street food, served in a communal hot pot party. The regular hot pot soup base is only shared by people sitting at the same table. While malatang, you have the option to eat it right on the spot or take it home with you.

Typically, you just choose the ingredient that you'd like your malatang soup base select, weighed in, and then you pay for it. It usually has a reddish broth due to the spicy chilies.  

Nowadays, even restaurants are serving this popular hot pot street food with various dipping sauce, spicy soup base, and more ingredients!

Chopsticks holding noodles in malatang.

How to Make This Hot Pot Meal? 

Malatang (Chinese food) includes various ingredients, from chicken stock broth to veggies and thin slices of meat. To start learning how to make this unique soup base block, you need to identify first the ingredients that you like to add to your hot plate meal. Here are a few typical items in yin tang spicy hot pot:

Common Ingredients

In this Sichuan food, you can include chilies, sesame oil, white pepper, soy sauce, fermented black beans, chicken broth, or even beef tallow, spices like green onion, and more, depending on your preferences. You can even create vegetarian-friendly, with vegetable broth and shiitake mushroom powder, green vegetables such as napa cabbage, and other root vegetables that you like, or even a plain hot pot soup bases. It’s also essential to select your noodles for hot pot, along with veggies like Chinese broccoli, lotus root, mushrooms, green veggies, and a pinch of oyster sauce. The final ingredient to consider is the protein you’d like in your soup, such as fried tofu, fish balls, beef, etc.

Malatang Recipe

Using the above ingredients, you can make your own soup base from scratch or opt for a pre-made one that you can find in a whole foods market or at any Asian grocery store. Then, add any hard veggies or items like pork bones that you cannot cook quickly. Once those are almost fully cooked, you can add thinly sliced meat, tofu, and the noodles of choice. Make sure to add some green onions as a garnish to your bubbling pot before digging in!

Alternatively, you can also purchase an instant pot version of Sichuan recipes. These instant hot pot base versions come with a self-heating hot pot. They save time on prep and cleanup. 

Chinese hot pot Malatang

How Long Does Malatang Last?

If you have already used the spicy hot pot broth to cook meat, veggies, and noodles, malatang will last in the fridge for about three days. Suppose you only assembled the broth and did not add additional ingredients; then you can keep malatang in the fridge or freezer for months. 

Once the Sichuan hot pot has cooled, keep it in the fridge for up to three days before it is no longer good. It's important to note that it's best to reheat malatang on the stove before consuming it. 

If you haven’t added other ingredients to the soup, you can store this spicy food in the fridge for up to four months. Or, you can keep it in a container in the freezer for up to eight months. 

Different Types of Malatang 

There are a few different varieties of malatang that you can enjoy. Next time you head to hot pot restaurants or street vendors offering malatang, you can order one of the options below:

On a Skewer

A few street food vendors will charge you a flat rate of malatang per skewer. You can have as many skewers as you like, depending on your preference. Usually, a big and flat saucepan is set up with several ingredients in skewers, cooked in a spicy mild hot pot broth.

Each protein or veggie is assembled in a skewer and then dropped into the Sichuan hot pot broth. This option makes it easier to take the skewers on the go. As a customer, you need to keep the wooden sticks because this will be the basis of how many skewers have you consumed. The price to pay is dependent on the number of empty sticks.

By Weight Style of Malatang

In mid-2010, malatang started to gain massive attention and various shops were serving this meal. The ingredients are stacked on the shelves, where you put your desired ingredients in a soup bowl. When you get to the counter, weigh your chosen ingredients, then select the broth you desire. This variety is the most easily customizable option. 

If you are with your friends, you can just go for one bowl of malatang and have all your desired ingredients in one large communal pot. It's like a little feast over a hot and spicy Sichuan hot pot. Sharing a malatang bowl has been a tradition, that besties and couples can opt for!


Bowl-style Sichuan hot pot is served in an individual bowl with your desired toppings. 

Hot Pot Broth Style

Hot pot malatang is a sit-down meal for two or more people with a boiling hot malatang broth in the middle of the table. 


This style of spicy hot pot is cooked in a typical casserole dish. You can eat this variety of malatang solo or with a group. 

Chinese spicy hot pot

Where to Find Malatang 

You can find a delicious bowl of SichuMalatangot at Malatang restaurants. There are a few options in the U.S., but they are fairly spread out. The easiest option is cooking a homemade version of malatang. If you're in China or Korea, you'll find this tasty soup much more easily!

Recently, malatang preparations have revolutionized. In grocery stores and online shops like Bokksu Market, you'll find pre-packaged hot pot soup bases and individual ingredients. Whether you like it to be extra spicy or not, you can pump additional flavors to your desirable richness and spiciness.

You can even add a little bit of milk along with the broth, a pinch of sesame paste to increase the depth and nuttiness of the malatang soup.

This hot meal sensation can give you comfort, soothe wounds, and bring great satisfaction!


Author Bio

Krystina Quintana is a 29-year-old copywriter living outside of Chicago, IL. Her passion for Asian culture began at a young age as she learned to create Asian-inspired recipes like homemade sushi with her family. This interest in Asian culture continues today with time spent in the kitchen and copywriting pursuits. Krystina has worked with customers ranging from small businesses to food Youtubers with 70,000+ subscribers. With a passion for food and travel, she seeks to help businesses bring traffic to their page by writing blog posts that are engaging, informative, and fun to read.
What is Malatang, or Spicy Hot Pot?| Bokksu Market


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