GUYS. I’m delighted to present this XO Sauce Recipe dish to you today. Now that you’ve mastered the essential sauce recipes on the blog, like Homemade Chili Oil, Chiu Chow Sauce, and Ginger Scallion Sauce, you’re almost ready to take on the most coveted of all condiments: XO SAUCE.
Have a chat about it with me.
So, What Is Xo Sauce?
XO Sauce is a famous Hong Kong condiment that features a unique blend of dried seafood (specifically, dried shrimp and scallops, often known as “conpoy”), salty Jinhua ham, shallots, garlic, chile, and oil.
It’s a strange-sounding condiment but trusts us: you’ll want to spread it on everything you can get your hands on because it’s incredibly tasty.
Why Is It Called Xo?
It’s clear from the name that XO sauce is high-quality and has a rich flavor profile. In Hong Kong, “XO” is a slang term denoting excellence, status, and lavishness. Now imagine the cost of buying a large quantity of fresh shrimp and scallops, drying them, and turning them into a jar of sauce.
Depending on the quality of the seafood used and the degree of ostentation you choose to demonstrate at the store, an 8-ounce jar of this XO sauce can cost upwards of $100.
Medium-sized dried scallops (conpoy) can easily exceed $100 for just one pound. A higher price tag awaits if huge dried scallops, which are more flavorful, are your preference.
This sauce is serious business, so be careful not to ruin your hard-earned dried-fish investment. As soon as my mother realized how much of her dried scallop hoard I had to use to make it, she made it obvious how serious it would be for me to set out on an XO voyage without knowing where I was going.
Because of this, the recipe you’re looking at results from a lot of reading and a long period of “background incubation,” during which my mind mulled over the potential outcomes of various ingredient proportions and preparation methods.
In terms of both sauce thickness and heat, people have a wide variety of tastes. Some people are loyal to their chunky XO sauces, but I like a smoother, more “sauce-like” version. There is some leeway in the proportions of the shrimp, scallops, and ham. In some recipes, shallots are replaced by onions, and fresh chilies are used in place of dried chili flakes.
It’s An Addictive Sauce
The simplest and tastiest way to have this sauce is atop a bed of plain rice or noodles with a heaping helping of your favorite vegetables on the side.
In addition to being the main ingredient in our signature Stir-fried Shrimp with XO Sauce, we also use it for stir-frying Chinese water spinach. Actually, it’s so delicious that word-of-mouth amongst our friends and family has led us to believe that the greatest way to enjoy it is with a relatively uncluttered medium, such as a bowl of noodles.
My coworkers and I have started spreading it liberally on negotori (fatty tuna) plates from the Japanese market down the street.
What’s important is that you realize that XO sauce can transform even the most ordinary dish into something that could only have been created in heaven.
So. Now that we’ve established a common vocabulary, I’d like to share a few notes about this dish’s preparation. I’m confident in saying that my XO sauce recipe is flawless.
I don’t mean to brag, but a big batch is because of me. Because pretty much anyone I’ve given a taste of this sauce to has been addicted and is always pleading with me to give them more.
One of my closest friends really cannot function without it. My grandmother recently asked for more to continue eating with her porridge every morning.
It’s best if you all go slowly and carefully. Because once you take a bite, you can never go back.
- 300g of dried scallops
- 300g of dried shrimp
- 8 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine (divided)
- Boiling water
- 14 large shallots (finely diced)
- 3 heads of garlic (finely minced)
- 10 pcs. of fresh red chili peppers (seeded and finely diced)
- 200g Jinhua ham
- 1¾ cups of chicken stock
- 2 tbsp. of brown sugar
- 7 cups of vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. of dark mushroom soy sauce
- ¼ cup of fish sauce
- ½ cup of dried chili flakes
- Put the dried shrimp and scallops into two big dishes. Place a tablespoon of Shaoxing wine and enough boiling water to cover the fish in each bowl. The shrimp needs to soak for an hour. For at least two hours, submerge the scallops in water (up to 6 hours).
- Get your shallots and garlic ready while that is going on. You should use a food processor for this. Shallots should be manually sliced thin and then pulsed into fine dice. Chop the garlic cloves very small by pulsing them in a food processor. The chile peppers should also be prepared and kept aside.
- Drain the seafood when the allotted soaking time has passed. Scallops and ham should be steamed in separate heatproof bowls for 15 minutes over high heat. You should save the liquid that accumulated in the bowl the scallops were in.
- After 15 minutes, take the items out of the steamer and set them aside to cool. Tear the scallops apart into little pieces with your fingers. In three separate batches, pulse the scallops 6-7 times in a food processor until they resemble very tiny, short threads. The shrimp should then be pulsed 7-8 times or until they resemble coarse crumbs. To prevent your high-end Jinhua ham from looking like cat food, mince it by hand.
- To make the scallop sauce, combine 1 34 cups chicken stock, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and the water from steaming the scallops (how much water will drip off into the dish the scallops were in after steaming may vary each time, and that is great). Put off to the side.
- Seven cups of oil should be heated in a big wok to 225 degrees Fahrenheit or when a chopstick placed in the oil should cause a little bubble to form. Depending on what you’re putting in the oil and how much of it, you can cook at temperatures anywhere from 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (or medium-high to high heat on your cooktop). If you don’t have a large enough wok to fry in safely, you can use any other deep pot. A dutch oven will do the trick if you don’t have a cast-iron skillet.
- Fried for 5 minutes after adding all the scallops. Now comes the shrimp. Prepare the dish by frying the ingredients for 15 minutes. Cook the ham for a further 3 minutes after adding it. Cook for an extra 3 minutes after adding the chopped chili peppers.
- Shut off the furnace. The oil should be drained off the seafood mixture before transferring it to a second large skillet or wok; the original wok should be discarded. A fine-mesh strainer is ideal for this task.
- When the oil in the first wok reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit, turn the heat back on. Toss in the shallots. Wait 10 minutes before serving. They need to brown somewhat but not get crunchy.
- Meanwhile, bring your second wok to medium heat and add the seafood and ham. Lastly, stir in the remaining 6 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine, the 2 teaspoons of black the sugar/chicken stock and mushroom soy sauce mixture. Mix everything together and reduce the liquid by simmering.
- The shallots and garlic should simmer together for 10 minutes while you tend to the second wok. We want the garlic to brown and turn crunchy.
- When the liquid in the seafood mixture has evaporated, and the shallot/garlic mixture is the right color, transfer the seafood mixture from the secondary wok back to the main wok. Stirring constantly at medium heat, reducing the temperature. Toss in the fish sauce and the chili flakes and mix well.
- After cooling on the countertops, transfer them to clean, sterilized containers and store them in the fridge. Although its flavor is at its peak just after making, XO sauce can be preserved in the fridge for up to three days.
- Feel free to sprinkle on anything from rice to noodles to vegetables (try it in our Scallop Fried Rice with XO Sauce and Crispy Garlic)!