XO sauce is a seafood-based sauce that was invented in HK. It is full of umami, garlicky flavor, slightly spicy, smells amazing as well. The name XO reference high quality and luxury. It is quite expansive to by it. Learn how to make it at home.
If you don’t want to do the work, you can buy Lee Kum Kee XO Sauce: https://amzn.to/2DMljyZ
– 150 grams of skinless dry shrimp (grind 120 grams and save the rest for presentation) [Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/2XamPUo]
– 150 grams of dry scallop [Amazon Link: -https://amzn.to/2XaAdYT]
– 120 grams of Jin Hua ham
– 1 cup of Chinese cooking wine
– 3 cups of canola oil
– 1 medium size onion, finely diced
– 25-30 cloves of garlic, finely diced
– 2 pieces of spring onion
– 3 slices of ginger
– 3 pieces of cilantro stem
– 2 – 4 tbsp of oyster sauce
– 2 – 4 tbsp of soy sauce
– 1 tbsp of sugar
– 2 tsp of ground black pepper
– 1.5 tbsp of chili flake
– Dry shrimp [海米, 虾米, 干虾仁]: It is basically just shrimp that have been sun-dried and shrunk to a thumbnail size. Different than fresh shrimp, it has a strong umami taste. When you go to an oriental store, get the smaller dry shrimp. It is much cheaper compare to the big ones. Save some shrimp for presentation.
– Dry scallop or conpoy [瑶柱, 干贝 ]: Same as the shrimp, you can by the smaller ones since it is cheaper. It is also popular in China and we consider it as a luxury ingredient.
– Jin Hua Ham [金华火腿]: It is a type of dry-cured ham, a specialty from Zhe Jiang Province in China. I don’t have it today. So I used a piece of Hu nan Style smoked bacon. I found that it adds a really nice smokiness to the sauce. It is even better than the Jin Hua ham. If you can’t find Chinese ham, you can use any dry-curd meat you can find. Surely, the taste will be different but you won’t ruin the sauce. We only use lean ham for this recipe. Make sure you remove any attached fat. Cut it into smaller pieces so it is easier to steam.
– Put the dry shrimp, dry scallop, ham into a steamer. Add some Chinese cooking wine. Turn the heat to high. When the water comes to a boil, start counting the time. We gonna steam them for 25 minutes.
– While waiting, prepare some aromatics: cilantro stems, 2 pieces of spring onion, 3 slices of ginger, 25-30 cloves of garlic and 1 medium size onion. Smash the garlic one by one and finely diced them. Dice the onion finely as well.
– Now, you can go back and check the steamer. Drain the water. Save the liquid for later. We will grind all the ingredients in a food processor separately. You want to process it on and off for 3-4 times. We don’t want to grind them into a paste. We still want to keep them in a loose form. If you don’t have a machine, you can mince all the ingredients by hand.
– These 3 ingredients, you should add them to the wok in an order base on the moisture level. The one that has the highest moisture level should go into the wok first. Fry it until the steam evaporates a little bit and then add in the other ingredients.
– Use 3 cups of canola oil. Don’t need to wait for the oil to get hot, just add in the ingredients. Cook them on low heat. All the ingredients will be simmered in the oil for a long time. That encourages the umami fragrance to come out. Fry them for 7-8 minutes, add the whole shrimp that is for presentation. This frying process will go on for 35-45 minutes in total. Make sure to keep the flame at low the whole time and stir it continually to ensure they cook evenly. As the moisture content gets less and less, the oil will appear more. You will see lots of bubbles on the top as well. At this stage, you want to pay attention to the color. Once it reaches a light golden brown. You can take them out. Let them go through a sieve. Drain out all the oil. We will use the oil later.
– Get a big frying pan. Add in the fried shrimp, scallop, and the ham. Pour in 1/2 cup of the remaining steamed liquid that we drain out before. Continue adding 2 to 4 tbsp of soy sauce, 2-4 tbsp of oyster sauce, and 1 tbsp of sugar depending on your taste. Cook this on medium heat to reduce the liquid that we just added. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Set it aside.
– We gonna use the leftover oil to fry the aromatics. Throw in the cilantro stems, scallion knots, the ginger slices, the diced onion, and the diced garlic. Let it cook on low heat as well. We want to fry them until they are golden. It will take about 20 minutes. When the color of the oil turns brown and the garlic is slightly golden, you can take out the cilantro, scallion, and ginger. Add the fried seafood and ham back into the wok. Add 1.5 tbsp of chili flakes, and 2 tsp of black pepper. Mix well. Turn off the heat and let it cool down with the lid on.
– Store the XO sauce in a clean container. It will last 4 months in room temperature, 8 months in the fridge.