XO sauce

AT A GLANCE

A relatively new addition to China's ancient culinary repertoire, XO sauce has a history shrouded in mystery. Tony Tan reveals its secrets.

  • 25 gm dried scallops
  • 75 gm dried prawns
  • 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil, or just enough to cover all the ingredients
  • 75 gm garlic (about 20 cloves), finely chopped
  • 75 gm red shallots (about 6), finely chopped
  • 50 gm jamón or prosciutto, finely shredded
  • 25 gm fresh long red chillies (about 6), seeded and finely chopped
  • 15 gm dried long red chillies, seeded, soaked and finely chopped
  • 7 gm dried birdseye chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 gm roasted shrimp paste (belacan; see note)
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp roe, crumbled (see note; optional)
  • 15 gm sugar, or to taste
01   Soak dried scallops and dried prawns separately in 125ml hot water each until plump (preferably overnight).
02   Drain scallops (reserve soaking water), tear them into fine shreds, pat dry on absorbent paper and set aside. Drain prawns (reserve water), chop them finely and set aside.
03   Heat half the oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat, add scallops and deep-fry until very crisp (1-2 minutes; cover with lid as they may spit). Drain well, reserve oil. Wipe out wok with absorbent paper, add reserved oil and remaining oil and return to medium heat.
04   Add garlic, shallots and dried prawns and stir continuously until golden brown (4-5 minutes).
05   Add jamón, fresh chilli and dried chilli, fry for a few seconds (be careful, it may burn easily), then add shrimp paste, fried scallops and reserved scallop and prawn water and stir continuously for a few more seconds.
06   Add remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt and stir occasionally until fragrant and water has completely evaporated (20-30 minutes). Remove from heat, strain (reserve oil), transfer solids to a sterile jar, then pour in enough reserved oil to cover. Makes about 2 cups. XO sauce will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for 1 month.

Note This recipe makes about 500gm. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. To roast shrimp paste, wrap in aluminium foil and roast at 200C until fragrant (4-5 minutes). Dried shrimp roe is available from Asian grocers.

Topics:

CHINESE, MASTERCLASS, PRAWNS, GARLIC, JAMON, SHALLOTS, SCALLOPS, SPRING, PROSCIUTTO, CHILLIES

Recipe:

TONY TAN

Photography:

BEN DEARNLEY

Styling:

EMMA KNOWLES

FEATURED IN

Nov 2009

Nov 2009

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