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.
|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.