Author Notes: No, making XO-sauce is not nearly as difficult as some might have you believe. It will certainly make your life better. This quickly has taken its place among my favorite, reliable, family-pleasing, homemade convenience foods. It's one of the most heavenly all-purpose ingredients that has ever made its way into my kitchen. I only recently learned of its existence, through a Hotline inquiry a few months ago about what people were making in anticipation of the holiday season. Food52’er Halfpint reported that she’d be making XO sauce; on further questioning, she provided a link to a great recipe (included below) for making XO sauce at home. Make this. Now. ;o) —AntoniaJames
Serves: 2, but can be doubled, tripled, etc.
Noodles for 2 (fresh or dried – spaghetti or similar will do, or soba, but I always keep a couple bag of fresh noodles from Chinatown in my freezer)
Rice, about 3 cups, best if cooked and refrigerated in advance. (See note below)
A good glug or two of peanut or neutral vegetable oil (about 2 tablespoons)
One or two carrots – or leftover roast carrots or cubed butternut squash
A handful of green beans, or snow peas, or edamame
A few scallions, or a shallot, or even a small yellow onion
A handful or two of broccoli florets – raw or cooked – if you have some
Any other vegetable you have on hand that you’d like to add
A cup or so of leftover cooked beef, or pork, or chicken, or shrimp, or (my personal favorite) duck, or a combination (or small raw bits of any of the above, plus about a teaspoon or two of cornstarch)
A couple of generous splashes of soy sauce, to taste, plus a bit more if using uncooked meat or shrimp)
A good drizzle of dark sesame oil (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon)
2-3 heaping tablespoons XO sauce (see note below)
Cilantro, if you have some
- If using noodles, put on to boil a large pot of water. Put the lid on it to speed things up. You can also fill up your tea kettle and get it going, putting less in the large pot to start, if you’re pressed for time. Cook the noodles according to the instructions, but plan this so the noodles are not ready until after you’ve done your other cooking.
- If using rice that was not refrigerated, i.e., if you decided to make some just for this meal, or picked some up from your local take-out place, spread it all out on a large sheet pan. Put it in the oven on about 250 degrees for about 10 minutes to dry it out a bit.
- If you’re using meat that’s not already cooked, cut it into tiny bits, sprinkle a bit of cornstarch and a few dashes of soy sauce over it and gently toss. Set aside to rest.
- If using fresh carrots, peel them, slice on an extreme oblique angle, and then stack two or three of the ovals at a time and cut into two or three vertical strips. If using roasted carrots, cut into small bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Cut the string beans or snow peas on the diagonal into smallish pieces not much larger than the carrot pieces.
- Thinly slice the white part and about 3 inches of the green part of the scallions; if using a shallot or small onion, peel and very thinly
- Get a large skillet hot and add the oil. After about 30 seconds, add the carrot pieces if starting with raw ones and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the string beans if starting with raw ones, and continue to saute for another minute or so, stirring occasionally. Add the scallions or shallot or onion. If using meat or shrimp that was not previously cooked, add it now, too. Stir fry everything until the meat or shrimp just starts to appear cooked – a few minutes or so, depending on how small you cut the pieces. Shrimp usually takes less time, depending on how large they are.
- Add the XO sauce and give it a good stir; saute for about 15 seconds over medium heat; add the soy sauce and sesame oil. If you have any already cooked ingredients (protein and/or vegetables), add them now and cook just to warm them through; if using rice, add it at the same time.
- If using noodles, drain, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water. Add the noodles with the reserved water and toss with the XO-sauced ingredients in the skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Cover the skillet and let the noodles rest for about 1 minute. Taste to see if it needs more soy sauce and if so, add some. Garnish with cilantro. I hope you enjoy this. ;o)
- Here is the recipe I’ve used for XO Sauce: http://www.grubstreet.com/2012/08/how-to-use-xo-sauce.html
- To summarize how I have been making XO Sauce: I take about a half cup each of dried tiny scallops and dried tiny shrimp (I source both from a shop in Chinatown) and soak, well covered, for 6 – 8 hours or overnight. I soak them in a covered yogurt container. The smell is a bit strong.
- When ready to make the XO Sauce, I chop three or four good sized slices of prosciutto in the food processor and put them in a large skillet with about ½ inch of sunflower seed oil. I cook that over medium heat until the prosciutto starts to crisp up and turn red.
- Meanwhile, I chop in the food processor, until it turns to paste, the soaked shrimp and scallops, along with 2 heads of garlic (cloves all peeled) and about a fat 4” long piece of ginger that I’ve peeled and coarsely chopped. When that is processed to a fine paste, I dump it all into the skillet with the prosciutto, a good pinch of salt and a couple pinches of sugar, and cook for about 10-15 minutes until it’s all nice and light brown, stirring thoroughly to blend all the ingredients. The recipe also calls for chilies, which you would finely chop and add with the salt and sugar. (I don’t use them.) Store covered in the fridge. It keeps for at least a couple of months; the nice people over on Grubstreet.com say it lasts forever. It will be eaten long before then, of course. Once you try this, you’ll immediately understand why.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe that Cleans Out the Fridge