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Mala Dry Pot With Cauliflower, Snap Peas and Bacon (Ganguo Caihua)

Author: Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking


Spice mix

  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground Sichuan pepper (or more if your Sichuan pepper is not fresh and strong)*
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground or crushed cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mushroom powder (optional)

Other ingredients

  • 4 strips thick-cut American bacon, cut in ½-inch pieces (or a similar smoked meat or vegetarian substitute of your choosing)
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut and separated into bite-size chunks
  • 10 ounces sugar snap peas, sliced crosswise ¼-inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
  • 8-10 whole dried Sichuan chilies (cut in half with seeds included for more heat)
  • 1 tablespoon Pixian doubanjiang (chili bean paste)
  • cup chicken stock or water


  • Make the spice mix by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Heat wok over a high flame until wisps of heat start to rise, add bacon pieces and cook until crispy. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add cauliflower. When the water returns to a boil, cook cauliflower at a low boil for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and cook with the cauliflower for 1 more minute, or until both vegetables are cooked but not soft. Drain vegetables in a colander.
  • Clean wok and return to high heat. When wok is hot, add 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil and heat until hot. Add onions to the wok and stiry-fry until they are wilted and starting to brown along the edges. Remove the onions and hold.
  • Reheat wok, add 3 tablespoons oil, heat briefly and add the garlic and serrano chili. Stir-fry briefly then add the dried Sichuan chilies and stir-fry until they are fragrant but not burned. Push the garlic and chilies to the sides of the wok and add the spice mix to the well of oil in the center. Let it sizzle briefly, until fragrant, then add the chili bean paste and let cook briefly. Add the chicken stock or water and mix well.
  • Add the cauliflower, snap peas, onion and bacon to the wok in that order, stir-frying and mixing all components together. When well mixed and hot, remove to a serving platter or bowl. Serve with steamed rice.


*Sort Sichuan peppercorns and discard any black seeds or twigs. Toast in a dry skillet or toaster oven until pods start to smell very fragrant, but do not brown them. Let peppercorns cool, then grind in a spice grinder or in a mortar & pestle to your desired coarseness. Sift out any yellow husks that don't break down. Sichuan pepper powder will retain its potent flavor and numbing punch for only a few weeks.
If using a readymade dry pot (or mala xiang guo) sauce, omit the spice mix and the doubanjiang. Add 3 tablespoons of the mala xiang guo sauce in their place in Step 5.