San Francisco chef Melissa King uses this broth for hot pot, a celebratory dish that’s also an event unto itself. The broth is very aromatic, with an alluring deep-red hue and a pleasant tingle from Sichuan peppercorns. It’s intentionally unsalted, since it will pick up so much flavor from the ingredients cooked in it; in fact, you will probably need to dilute it with a little boiling water from time to time over the course of the evening. For shopping tips, see our Asian Market Shopping Guide.
2 tablespoons canola oil
5 slices (1⁄2 in. thick) fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cinnamon stick (4 to 5 in.)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 green cardamom pods, split
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns*
2 star anise pods
5 dried Tianjin chiles* (aka Tien Tsin or Chinese dried red peppers), or 1 tbsp. clear red chili oil*
1/4 cup Sichuan chile bean paste/sauce (doubanjiang, sometimes spelled toban djan)*
Heat oil in a 6- to 8-qt. pot over high heat. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add spices, chiles, and chile bean paste and fry, stirring, 1 minute to release flavors.
Add broth and bring to a boil, covered; then lower heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes to blend flavors.