Sichuan Hot Pot Soup Base (川式清油火锅底料)

Restaurant-style Sichuan hot pot soup base has a super rich aroma and tastes like the ones you’d get in China. The finished base is a thick paste that can be portioned out easily and it’s freezer friendly, making it a perfect edible holiday gift. {Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Hot pot with Sichuan spicy soup and non-spicy soup

Now that weather is finally getting cooler, it’s the perfect season for hot pot. After I published The Ultimate Hot Pot Guide, I received many positive reviews and got numerous requests for homemade Sichuan hot pot soup base. I have to admit, hot pot soup base is not something we make at home back in China, because it’s so easy to buy the packaged ones. I also thought the store bought ones always tasted better, because they are usually made by famous restaurants and stores that have hundreds of years of history.

But after we looked into it and did several tests, we realized that making Sichuan hot pot soup base at home is not complicated at all. And the taste is just as delicious (maybe even better) than the store-bought ones. Even better, the homemade version does not contain preservatives.

Hot pot with Sichuan spicy soup and non-spicy soup and spread of ingredients close up

Why this recipe

  • Maximum flavor, it makes a very rich and thick hot pot soup that is super fragrant, just like the ones at hot pot restaurants.
  • It’s vegan. But if you wish to further boost the taste, you can replace some vegetable oil with tallow to make it even more luxurious.
  • The soup base forms a thick paste once chilled, so you can portion it out and store for future use.
  • To use the hot pot soup base, you simply need to dilute it with some broth and heat it up.
  • The cooking only takes 15 minutes once you gather the ingredients.

Granted, it’s actually not that cheap to make Sichuan hot pot base at home if you have to buy every single ingredient. But if you’ve been making my Sichuan recipes, your pantry probably has everything needed for this recipe. Also, if you have high quality Sichuan peppercorns and dried chili peppers, your soup base will taste so much fresher and more delicious without using tons of salt and MSG (which are usually the main ingredients in packaged hot pot soup base).

Ingredients  

As you can see in the picture below, the ingredient list is quite long but most of the ingredients are pantry basics. I highly recommend you use whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, etc.), instead of ground spices, to maximize the taste. However, if you do not have certain whole spices, you can use ground ones as well.

Ingredients for making Sichuan hot pot soup base

Sichuan peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorns are one of the main ingredients and it’s crucial that you use the freshest ones you can find. They add a rich aroma and numbing tingling sensation. If you’re not familiar with them, read this post for more information. I highly recommend the Sichuan peppercorns from The Mala Market. They’re imported directly from Sichuan and are some of the best I can find in the US.

Dried chili peppers

It’s best to use Chinese dried chili peppers because they are not overly spicy. I used a combination of Facing Heaven Chili Peppers and Lantern Chili Peppers, but it’s totally OK to use just one type. 

If you cannot find Chinese dried chili peppers, you can use Korean dried chili peppers instead. They have a similar taste and are sometimes easier to find.

Doubanjiang

Another main ingredient that gives the soup base a spicy kick and rich fermented umami. The Pixian brand is the best and you can find it on Amazon. The traditional doubanjiang is a dark brown paste. If you use doubanjiang from a Japanese brand or US brand, it might be closer to a saucy texture and the taste will be less rich. I highly recommend you use the traditional doubanjiang, if possible, to get the best taste.

Oil

Sichuan hot pot soup base usually uses rapeseed oil. If you cannot find it, grapeseed oil, canola oil, or another neutral oil will work. 

If you prefer an even richer and more intense taste, you can swap one cup of oil with a cup of tallow (beef fat). This makes for more of a Chongqing-style hot pot and is super delicious.  

Hot pot with Sichuan spicy soup and non-spicy soup and spread of ingredients

Cooking process

Cooking Sichuan hot pot base is super easy once you’ve gathered all the ingredients.

  1. Grind the spices
  2. Cook the aromatics in oil
  3. Dissolve the doubanjiang and fermented black beans. Add spice mix and cook for 10 minutes
  4. Mix in the rest of the seasonings
  5. Let the sauce cool, then blend it
  6. Store the soup base in a container and refrigerate it
  7. Once it’s chilled, the soup base will become a solid block 
  8. You can divide the soup base and store it in individual bags for future use
How to make Sichuan hot pot soup base step-by-step

Extra chili peppers

I added some dried chili peppers to the finished hot pot base for garnish. If you eat spicy hot pot in a restaurant, they might use even more dried chili peppers in the soup. They will not add a lot of taste and are more for looks. You can add them or skip them.

Easy storage

Once you finish making the hot pot soup base, the spices will sink to the bottom and the oil will float on top. I found it’s best to chill the full batch and divide it later, so the spices will be evenly distributed to each block. 

If you use some tallow in this recipe, the block will stay solid at room temperature and it might be easier to transport if you decide to give it as an edible gift.

Homemade spicy hot pot soup base in bags

How to use the Sichuan hot pot soup base

No matter whether you’re using the refrigerated or frozen soup base, all you need to do is add it to the hot pot and add some broth to it. I prefer to use chicken broth, but you can use vegetable broth as well. Then bring the hot pot to a boil and mix the soup so the hot pot soup base dissolves completely. Then you’re ready to cook and eat!

Dipping meat in Sichuan hot pot

More information on hot pot

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Restaurant-style Sichuan hot pot soup base has a super rich aroma and tastes like the ones you’d get in China. The finished base is a thick paste that can be portioned out easily and it’s freezer friendly, making it a perfect edible holiday gift. {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
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Sichuan Hot Pot Soup Base (川式清油火锅底料)

Restaurant-style Sichuan hot pot soup base has a super rich aroma and tastes like the ones you’d get in China. The finished base is a thick paste that can be portioned out easily and it’s freezer friendly, making it a perfect edible holiday gift. {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
To make the recipe gluten-free, use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine. You will also need to find a gluten-free Doubanjiang like this one because most of the traditional brands of Doubanjiang contain wheat.
Course Condiment
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword holiday cooking, party food
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 16 servings (4 hot pot soup bases)
Calories 328kcal
Author Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

Spices

Base

Instructions

  • Combine all the spices in a blender or food processor. Mix until the spices turn into small flakes but not powdered.
  • Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot or 9” deep pan over low heat until medium hot (if you add a small piece of garlic it should sizzle gently and not bubble furiously). Add the garlic, ginger, and green onion. Cook and stir until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.
  • Carefully add the doubanjiang and fermented black beans to the oil. Cook and stir for another minute.
  • Add the blended spices. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. The oil should reach a vibrant orange-red color when it’s ready.
  • Add the sugar, Shaoxing wine, and mushroom powder. Stir until dissolved.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 10 to 20 minutes (or longer if you have a non-heat proof blender).
  • Add the cooled hot pot base mixture to the blender. Make sure the lid’s air vent is open. Start from a low speed, gradually raising to medium-high speed, blending until the oil is emulsified, about 1 minute. The mixture will look cloudy once blended.
  • Carefully pour the hot pot soup base into a large heat proof tupperware. Top the whole dried chilis and crushed peppercorns evenly over the base for garnish. Cover the container and freeze overnight.
  • Once frozen, you can divide the base into individual portions by slicing it into 4 pieces. Then you can store each piece in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. Each block is good for a small hot pot, or one side of a hot pot with a divider.

How to use the Sichuan hot pot soup base

  • To use the hot pot base, add it to the hot pot and pour in 4 to 5 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable broth). Heat over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve the soup base. You’re ready to cook when the soup is boiling. Refer to my Ultimate Hot Pot Guide for more information on how to put together a hot pot dinner.

Notes

  1. You can swap out one cup of oil with a cup of tallow for a richer taste. It also allows the soup base block to congeal at room temperature.
  2. You can add more dried chili peppers for garnish if you want the look of a restaurant hot pot. It will not add too much spiciness to the soup base.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.4g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 34.3g | Saturated Fat: 6.7g | Sodium: 556mg | Potassium: 56mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 2.1g | Calcium: 8mg

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

More homemade sauces and ingredients

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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