• 4 or 5 pieces / 1.75 oz dried chili pepper

  • 1⁄4 cup / 20g whole Sichuan pepper

  • 2 or 3 pieces star anise

  • 1 or 2 pieces cassia bark

  • 4 or 5 bay leaves

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp ground fennel

  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cloves

  • 2 black cardamom pods

  • 1 cup / 240ml Sichuan rapeseed oil or soybean oil

  • 1 cup / 250g beef tallow or Sichuan rapeseed oil

  • 2 Tbsp minced ginger

  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic

    TST-THe Book of Sichuan Chili-Book Cover The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp Jing Gao
  • 3 or 4 scallions, green and white parts only, chopped

  • 1⁄2 cup / 135g doubanjiang

  • 1⁄4 cup / 60g Sichuan Chili Crisp (See Below)

  • 1⁄2 cup / 120ml Shaoxing wine

  • 1 piece (10g) rock sugar

  • 1 Tbsp whole Sichuan pepper

  • 10 pieces dried chili pepper

  • 5 cups / 1.2L chicken stock, or as needed


  • Raw, thinly sliced meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb); available presliced at most Asian grocery stores

  • Raw seafood (such as shrimp, fish balls, squid, crab legs, and fish slices)

  • Heartier vegetables (such as potatoes, lotus root, daikon radishes, and pumpkin), sliced

  • Mushrooms (such as shiitake, enoki, oyster, and wood ear), cut into bite-sized pieces

  • Tofu products (regular, frozen, dried, or fried puffs), cut into bite-sized pieces

  • Seaweed in sheets, slices, or knots

  • Quail eggs, boiled and peeled

  • Leafy greens (such as sweet potato leaves, napa cabbage, spinach, and chrysanthemum greens)

  • Starches (such as sweet potato noodles, vermicelli, or konjac noodles)


  • Sichuan Chili Crisp (See Below)

  • Tribute Pepper Oil (See Below)

  • Light soy sauce Black vinegar

  • Toasted sesame oil

  • Fermented tofu (furu)

  • Satay sauce

  • Sesame paste

  • Oyster sauce

  • Lots of chopped scallions

  • Lots of chopped cilantro leaves

  • Lots of minced garlic

  • MSG


  1. To make the soup base: In a spice grinder or a food processor, coarsely grind the chili pepper, Sichuan pepper, star anise, cassia bark, bay leaves, cumin, fennel, cloves, and cardamom pods.

  2. In a large wok or frying pan over medium heat, warm the rapeseed oil and tallow. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the doubanjiang and chili crisp and stir for another minute. Add the coarse spice blend, wine, rock sugar, Sichuan pepper, chili peppers, and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes. Pour the whole mixture into a heatproof container and set aside to cool. (If using tallow, the mixture will congeal to a solid.)

  3. To prepare the hot pot ingredients: Wash, chop, and place all the ingredients on serving plates and in bowls. Place a portable gas stove on your table and set a large, shallow pot in the center of the stove with the ingredients arranged around it.

  4. Prepare to feast: Place the soup base into the soup pot over high heat, add the stock, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to medium for a gentle rolling boil.

  5. Invite your guests to mix their own dipping sauce of choice. The most basic dipping sauce in Sichuan is pure sesame oil with equal parts garlic, but I like to add soy sauce, vinegar, fermented tofu, chili crisp, scallions, and cilantro to mine as well.

  6. Use long chopsticks or a slotted spoon to dunk ingredients into the pot to cook. Certain items, such as the quail eggs, lotus root, and tofu skin, can be cooked longer. Others, such as the leafy greens and thinly sliced meats, will cook very fast—just a light blanching will do.

  7. As you feast, the liquid in the hot pot will evaporate over time, so be sure to add more stock or water to it. The broth will only get better over time, as you cook more and more ingredients in it!

Sichuan Chili Crisp

This is the sauce that started it all. After years of watching my extended family in Sichuan make their homemade versions of chili sauce, each one with a distinct flavor that set it apart from the next, I started mixing my own in my Shanghai kitchen.

The technique remained the same: heat oil to 260°F / 125°C, layer in the ingredients, and precisely cook each ingredient until its fragrance is released and the flavors have melded. But it was the ingredients themselves that I had a distinct point of view on. After years of sourcing trips across the Sichuan countryside, I had built relationships with the best of the best purveyors of chilies, tribute peppers, preserved black beans, and more. I felt as if I were weaving the elements of a beautiful story, one that I was helping to tell every time I dolloped a spoonful of chili crisp on a dish. Chili crisp, like anything else, is nothing more than the expression of the ingredients that you put into it. Depending on the type of chilies, oil, and spices that you choose, the flavors will vary. Use the following recipe as a guide to the approximate proportions of each ingredient but be reassured there are no wrong answers. Experiment with chilies of different origins, heat levels, and fragrances to arrive at the right flavor profile for you.

Makes 3 cups

  • 2 cups / 480ml Sichuan rapeseed or neutral oil

  • 1 piece cassia bark

  • 2 pieces star anise

  • 1 or 2 pieces cardamom

  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic

  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger

  • 1⁄4 cup / 50g preserved black beans

  • 1⁄2 cup / 125g Ground Chili Powder

  • 2 Tbsp mushroom powder

  • 2 1⁄3 Tbsp kosher salt

  • 2 tsp Ground Roasted Sichuan Pepper

  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

  • 2 Tbsp fried shallots, store-bought

  • 2 Tbsp fried minced garlic, store-bought 

In a large wok or frying pan over high heat, warm the rapeseed oil to 350°F / 175°C on an instant-read thermometer. Add the cassia bark, star anise, and cardamom and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until their fragrances have been released into the oil. (You’ll know when this has happened when the spices stop bubbling in the oil.) Pour the oil through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the spices.

Add the garlic, ginger, and preserved black beans to the oil and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant. Bring the oil to 260°F / 125°C and add the chili powder, mushroom powder, salt, and roasted Sichuan pepper, stirring to combine and making sure the salt is fully dis- solved. Remove the wok from the heat and let the ingredients simmer in the hot oil for a few minutes. Stir in the sesame oil, shallots, and garlic. Allow the mixture to cool.

Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 6 months or in the refrigerator for up to 12 months. You can use the chili crisp right away, but since the flavor develops over time, you’ll find it intensify- ing after a few days and even more so after a few weeks. Since the solid bits will settle at the bottom, make sure to always mix up the chili oil with a spoon before each use!

Tribute Pepper Oil 

Like the tribute pepper itself, a little bit of this oil will go a long way. Use in dishes that call for evenly distributed numbing flavor, like the Celtuce, Vermicelli, and Chicken Salad. 

Makes 1 cup 

  • 1 cup / 240ml neutral oil

  • 2 Tbsp Ground Roasted Sichuan Pepper

In a wok or frying pan over high heat, warm the oil to 250°F / 120°C. 

Place the roasted Sichuan pepper in a heat­proof container. Once the oil is at temperature, slowly pour it over the roasted Sichuan pepper, stirring well. Set aside to cool, then transfer to an airtight jar. You’ll want to wait a couple of days before using it, because its flavor will develop over time. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for up to a month.

“Reprinted with permission from The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp: Spicy Recipes and Stories from Fly By Jing's Kitchen by Jing Gao, copyright © 2023. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.”

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