Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry

Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry by The Mala Market

A Quick-Mix, Good-With-Everything Sichuan Sauce

After we launched a famous brand of handmade, 3-year-aged, Pixian chili bean paste into the U.S. market in August, many, many of you reported back that you love its spicy and soulful flavor. But after making the best mapo doufu you’ve ever made, and perhaps a stellar twice-cooked pork, some of you are stumped for further ways to use it. So I’m embarking on a series called Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang that will hopefully make it easier to utilize this super versatile burst of umami.

First up, naturally, is a Super Sichuan Sauce for Stir-fry, which I’ve kept to as few ingredients as possible so it makes quick work of a stir-fry with maximum flavor. In Sichuan, doubanjiang is used mainly for braises, but I’ve found that a small dollop of it really revs up a stir-fry and even makes an incredible grilling marinade. Later in the series, I’ll offer a Super Sichuan Sauce for grilling, one for braising and one for dry pot. All of them are based on our Yi Feng He Hao aged Pixian doubanjiang, the top-of-the-line version of a sauce that has been declared intangible cultural heritage in China.

I’d like to convince you that Pixian doubanjiang is the next gochujang, Korea’s version of fermented chili paste, which has now been adopted by all kinds of cooks for use in all kinds of dishes. Doubanjiang is similarly versatile. Both are chili-based ferments, but while gochujang leans sweet, doubanjiang leans salty, and has the added funk of fermented fava beans. The trick in using it is concocting the right balance of flavors to complement and enhance it.

The stir-fry sauce I came up with is mala, of course, but you can easily adjust the intensity to your preference. It’s la, or spicy hot, from the douban and Sichuan chili flakes, and a bit ma, or tingly numbing, from freshly ground Sichuan pepper. It also has a bit of sweet from Chinese (or American) dark brown sugar and a bit of nuttiness from toasted sesame oil. It works equally well with chicken, lean pork (pork loin) or lean beef (such as top sirloin or flank steak). Designed as a Sichuan-style (vs. American-Chinese) sauce, it does not provide a lot of extra sauce, but you can add broth or water to make some if you like.

Here’s the blueprint, which can be applied to any number of combinations of protein and vegetable weighing a total of 1 1/4 pounds. Pre-mixing the sauce enables a small mise en place and a quick wok process. The photo at top is of steak, onion and red bell pepper and this one in the instructions is simply chicken and green hot pepper.

Spices for Super Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry

First, mix up the sauce, including aged Pixian doubanjiang, Sichuan mala spices and a few other common pantry ingredients. Freshly ground Sichuan pepper is preferred, and the easiest, quickest way to get it is by grinding in a mortar and pestle and sifting out the powder from the husks. I do not bother to toast the peppercorns first, as they will be cooked with the sauce. If your Sichuan pepper powder is not freshly ground, use more.

Then stir-fry small cubes of chicken or thin slices of lean beef or pork until done and remove from wok. Small and/or thin pieces are important for a quick stir-fry, more surface sauce, and an optimal mix of ingredients in your mouth.

Ingredients for Super Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry

When lightly seared and just cooked through, remove chicken and clean wok. Add more oil and your vegetable, such as Chinese long hot peppers or Anaheim (both of which are mildly hot) or bell peppers, along with some slices of garlic. When peppers are lightly browned but still crispish, push them to the sides of the wok, add the stir-fry sauce to the center, and cook it briefly.

Super Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry in a wok

Add back the chicken, stir-fry and mix well.

Super Sichuan Sauce for Chicken and Green Pepper Stir-Fry


Super Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry

This is about as easy as it gets for a meat stir-fry, but if you want to make it even quicker, you could mix up this Super Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry in batches and keep it in your fridge for use anytime the stir-fry urge hits.

Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Super Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry

This recipe is a blueprint for using the stir-fry sauce and can be adapted to different proteins and vegetables with a total weight of around 1¼ pounds. Another possible combination is pork loin with green pepper or leeks.
Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking



  • tablespoons aged Pixian chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
  • 3 tablespoons canola (or other neutral) oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan chili flakes (toasted and ground chilies)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground red Sichuan pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For Chicken

  • 1 pound dark-meat chicken, cut in small, 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • ¼ pound mildly hot green chili peppers (Chinese or Korean long hot peppers or Anaheim), cut on the diagonal in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced

For Beef

  • ¾ pound steak (top sirloin, flank steak, etc.), cut in thin, ⅛-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 small white onion, cut in ½-inch slices
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
  • cilantro


  • In a small bowl, mix the sauce: doubanjiang, oil, chili flakes, ground Sichuan pepper, dark brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. In a separate bowl, marinate the chicken or beef in Shaoxing wine.
  • Heat wok until very very hot, add a couple tablespoons of oil and swirl around the wok. Once heated, pour that oil out and add 2 tablespoons fresh oil. This procedure helps keep the chicken from sticking to the wok, which it really wants to do. Add chicken or beef and let sear, undisturbed, on one side. When lightly browned, continue stir-frying until just cooked through. Remove and reserve.
  • Clean wok, return to heat, and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add vegetables and stir-fry over high heat until they start to brown but are still crispish. Add garlic slices and cook briefly, then lower heat, push the veg to the sides of the wok and add the stir-fry sauce into the center. Cook it briefly, then add back the chicken, or the beef and cilantro, and mix all ingredients well. If too dry, add water to reach your desired amount of sauce.


Taylor Holliday

The Mala Market all began when Taylor, a former journalist, created The Mala Market blog as a place to document her adventures learning to cook Sichuan food for Fongchong, her recently adopted 11-year-old daughter. They discovered through the years that the secret to making food that tastes like it would in China is using the same ingredients that are used in China. The mother-daughter team eventually began visiting Sichuan's factories and farms together and, in 2016, opened The Mala Market, America’s source for heritage Sichuan ingredients and Chinese pantry essentials.

13 Responses

  1. Lev says:

    Tried this recipe tonight, came out great, very easy to make and very nice heat flavor
    Thank you

  2. Ash says:

    This is now a regular in our weeknight rotation. I often sub celery for the hot peppers and quite like it that way as well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. nancy roach says:

    This was so good. My husband is afraid of pickles (seriously) so I didn’t tell him this included fermented fava beans. He loved it. And I got some good sichuan peppercorns – the difference is amazing. Thanks for your website – I’ve been cooking sichuan since 1981 with Mrs. Chang’s cookbook and you guys have opened a new window into it.

    • Taylor Holliday says:

      We’re flattered that you have added our recipes to Mrs. Chang’s for your Sichuan cooking. Really happy to hear that even your husband loved it!

  4. Jean says:

    Is this really spicy? Can I leave out the chili flakes if it is?

    • Kathy Yuan says:

      Hi Jean, thanks for reading!

      Spiciness is so hard to rate as it’s truly subjective, but if you’re worried about spiciness, I would encourage you to sub out the hot green peppers for bell peppers first, rather than changing the sauce upfront. Hot peppers are always spicier to me than a sauce, but again, this is just my experience! If you’ve cooked with Pixian douban before, this isn’t much spicier, and we encourage you to experiment. Try taste-testing the sauce as you prepare it, and gradually increase the chili flakes from 1/2 tsp to 1tsp to 2tsp as you see fit 🙂

      Hopefully that helps avoid any unwanted surprises. Do let us know what you think if you try it!

  5. Kevin says:

    I recently made this recipe twice with thinly slice flank steak. I received my Super Sichuan Collection about a month ago and this is the first recipe I have tried. Wow, just Wow… Absolutely delicious. It turned out perfect and very easy to prepare. Will be one of my go-to stir fry recipes, Thank you. Looking forward to trying the chicken version.

    • Kathy Yuan says:

      Thanks for reading and letting us know how the recipe worked out for you, Kevin. So glad to hear you’re enjoying the collection. Can’t wait for what else you make with it!

  6. JJ Cakes says:

    Late to the game but I bought some doubanjiang from Mala Market and needed to figure out what to do with it. I made the chicken version of this dish and for the amount of time it takes the results exceeded expectations. Seriously, you can almost have this complete while you cook some rice. Will totally make again.

  1. June 22, 2022

    […] Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry […]

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