MáLà Project in NYC serves its Chinese dry pot, a version of the classic hot pot in which the items are stir-fried in plenty of spice-infused oil, with a combination of sliced beef short ribs, chicken wings, tilapia and prawns. You'll start spooning it all over rice and wonder why you can't stop.
This dish is all about the spice oil. MáLà Project uses a bunch of ingredients that cannot be found in America (the chef has them specially mailed to the restaurant from China). However, we are able to highlight the staple aromatics, the most important being Sichuan peppercorns. Named after the region of China where they come from, these peppercorns produce a pleasant numbing sensation in your mouth (which in Chinese is called málà). This dish truly wouldn't be the same without them.
To learn more, read "Wok Wok Wok Wok Wok."
Chinese Dry Pot
Recipe adapted from Amelie Kang, MáLà Project, New York, NY
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, plus cooling time
For the Spice Oil:
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
1½ tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons black cardamom, crushed
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon green cardamom
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
3 strips orange zest
1 scallion, roughly chopped
One 2-inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
For the Chile Paste:
¾ cup (2 ounces) red Thai chile peppers
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon salt
4 garlic cloves
One ½-inch piece ginger
Pinch freshly ground white pepper
For the Dry Pot:
1 pound (12 each) chicken wings
4 ounces glass noodles
1 cup spice oil
8 ounces (1 fillet) tilapia, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 ounces (6 small) prawns
1 tablespoon chile paste
7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 red Thai chile peppers
One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound thinly sliced boneless short ribs
6 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
4 bok choy, roughly chopped
½ small napa cabbage, roughly shredded
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Steamed rice, for serving
1. Make the spice oil: In a medium saucepan, combine the spice oil ingredients over medium-high heat. Once the oil comes to a simmer, reduce the heat and allow to cook until the liquid has evaporated, 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the oil to completely cool, then strain the oil, discarding the solids.
2. Meanwhile, make chile paste: In a food processor, combine the chile paste ingredients and purée until smooth. Transfer to a nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Prepare the dry pot: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the chicken wings until cooked, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the wings with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. To the same pot of boiling water, add the glass noodles and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer the noodles to a bowl.
4. In a large wok, heat the spice oil over medium-high heat and line a plate with paper towels. Fry the tilapia and prawns for 3 minutes, then remove and transfer to the prepared plate.
5. To the wok, add the chile paste, garlic, scallions, chiles and ginger, and sweat, stirring constantly until aromatic, 1 minute. Add the beef and cook until golden and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the blanched chicken wings and fry until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, bok choy and cabbage, and cook until tender, 3 minutes. Add the reserved glass noodles, fried tilapia and prawns, tossing to incorporate and warm through, 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with steamed rice.