Szechuan Spicy Vegetables Stir-fry (Ma La Xiang Guo)

I made this dish recently when I was trying to finish off a variety of fresh vegetables in my fridge. This is a good dish for just that purpose. You can add seafood like shrimp or calamari to this dish as well.

It is a heart-healthy, quick and easy meal that is very versatile. In the time it takes to cook your rice, your dinner will be ready. I love recipes like this. But…

It is normal for me to take a recipe and put my twist on it even on the first try. This recipe is an example of just that practice. I have put my added ingredients in as optional.

It is important to note that the sauce packet is very spicy and I use only a small portion of it for a huge pot of vegetables.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 10 servings


  • *1/4 or 1/3 of 1 packet of Ma La Xiang Guo Tiao Liao – spicy sauce purchased at your Asian grocer (Tiao Liao means spice mix)
  • 4-5 quarts cut vegetables – any kind
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce, optional
  • 3-4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, optional
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, optional
  • 1 pound medium shrimp (U35); calamari; Bacon cubes (use a small amout – it has a lot of flavor); optional, reduce vegetable by 1 quart if using


1.Set your rice to cook.

2. Keep a large bowl of ice water nearby. The ice will help stop the cooking process otherwise you’ll end up with gray, overcooked vegetables.

3. In the time it takes for the water to come to a boil, you can cut up the vegetables and ready them for blanching. Blanching the vegetables before stir-frying helps them retain vitamins.

4. Cut the vegetables into similar sized pieces. They will cook more evenly and will look nicer on the plate when served. The devil is in the details.

5. Place each type of vegetable separately in a steaming basket or large metal strainer and blanch them separately in a pot of boiling water. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of vegetable you choose.

6. If they are delicate vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini or spinach, only cook them for 10 seconds.

7. Cook the cabbage, asparagus or chopped carrots for 1 minute.

8. Cook the broccoli, cauliflower for 2 minutes.

9. As each vegetable is cooked, pull the steamer basket or strainer out and drop them in the ice-water bath.

10. Drain well.

11. Place blanched and drained vegetables in a large metal bowl and set aside.

12. Boil the seafood until it just turns opaque. Remove and keep separately.

13. If using bacon, add it to the heating pan to crisp up, remove, and drain on paper towels. Wipe the pan clean and continue to Step 14.

14. Heat a large saute pan or wok and place all the vegetables in without adding oil to the pan. This will help dry the moisture off of the vegetables and also continue to cook them.

15. After 2 or 3 minutes of cooking, add only 1/4-1/3 of one packet of the ready-made spicy sauce. Add the seafood and bacon to the pan, if using and not proceeding to Step 16. Taste one of the vegetable pieces to see if you need to add more sauce. Toss and serve with steamed rice. Or…

16. In my case, I added the oyster sauce and the Worcestershire sauce to the vegetables with the spicy sauce and then transferred the vegetables from the pan back to the bowl leaving the liquid behind.

17. I used 1/4 cup of this sauce to dissolve the 1/3 cup of cornstarch and added the corn starch slurry into the pan of sauce, stirring constantly, for another 5-7 minutes until thick. Add the seafood and bacon to the pan, if using.

18. Turn off the heat, and add the vegetables into the thickened sauce. Serve with steamed rice.

*Note: I store the remainder of this sauce and the unopened packet in my refrigerator. It will keep for months.

Written by Anju Kapur of Anju’s Table. All content and images on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without my permission. Should you wish to share this recipe on your site, please add a link to this post as the source.

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