The XO sauce, as I have read, is like the holy grail of Chinese sauces. It is also said that the flavors or the mix vary in each household. I am thinking this is like the bagoong or homemade shrimp paste from the olden times. For the Filipino household, that condiment is treated as in ingredient or on its own directly a dipping sauce. Some even eat it with rice as a viand. Well to each his own.
I have been meaning to make this dish for a really long time now but has been hindered by the dried scallop ingredient. I still don’t have it to be honest. So I used some cooked canned scallops. Since the dried scallops are dehydrated then hydrated in cooking the XO sauce anyway, I figured I can manage using this. Then everything else was quite easy.
I prepared my ingredients first, meaning buy it. I bought some dried shrimp (the ones I used are baby dried shrimp), canned scallops, dried chili flakes, and bacon bits. At home, I have my bottarga (similar to mentaiko that is used), chinese sausage, garlic, and shallots. All of these were chopped tiny as possible. I read a couple of ways to do it, and decided on what I trust is best.
In a wok with oil, I added about a cup of oil. This was going to get flavored with all the ingredients. I separately fried each of the ingredients (minus the dried chili flakes and the bottarga, because that one will disintegrate), and set it aside. Once I added the bottarga (as the last one that I “fry”), I put back all the ingredients into the oil It was like a chunky oil soup. I added some chicken broth, plus the chili flakes, and about 2 tablespoons of sugar to it and let this simmer. I simmered this for maybe 10 minutes and tasted it. IT WAS REALLY GOOD. I could have eaten it with rice. I then put in a blender to make a nice thick paste, then put it back in the pan to let it simmer some more. Done.
It was surprisingly easy. The most difficult part was chopping everything up. But other than that, I mostly relied on instinct to make it. The ingredients to were all estimated on my part, but it worked out so well, I was impressed (with myself, to be honest). But yay.
PS. I did use this as the base of cooking some french beans. It was wonderful!
XO Sauce Recipe
1 cup of oil (I used canola)
125 grams of bacon, chopped into tiny tiny tiny pieces
1/2 cup of dried shrimp, minced
1/2 cup of cooked scallops, minced
1/2 cup of shallots, minced
1/2 cup of chinese sausage, minced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of mentaiko or bottarga or dried fish roe, minced
chili flakes to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar, or to taste
3/4 cup chicken broth
In the oil, fry all of the ingredients separately up to the garlic, and set aside each time. As the last to be fried, fry the fish roe, and once it has mixed into the oil, add all the fried ingredients back to the pan. Add chili flakes, sugar and chicken broth,and let this simmer for at least 10 minutes. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Blend in the blender or food processor, or keep as is if you prefer. They say it’s better after a few hours sitting in the oil. Use with veggies, or meat, or however you prefer.