You can put XO sauce on just about anything, from noodles to scrambled eggs, but I decided to try it on traditional shrimp and grits and was astounded by how well it all works together. The creamy grits are a perfect counterbalance to the umami-rich XO sauce. You can use traditional cream to make the grits, but I chose coconut milk to keep the dish from being too heavy—plus, it was another nod in the Asian direction. —Alicia Lu
Test Kitchen Notes
Are you thinking, "What is XO sauce?" Make your way to the full article to know more about this life-changing condiment. —The Editors
4 (sauce makes 2 cups)
Chinese lap cheong sausage, chopped
Chinese Jinhua ham, prosciutto, or bacon, chopped
shallots, minced (but not too finely)*
crushed red pepper flakes*
garlic, minced (but not finely)
ginger, peeled and minced (but not too finely)
Chinese five spice powder
*A larger mince will help prevent the ingredient from burning.
*You can adjust this depending on your preferred spice level.
Shrimp & Grits
chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper
XO sauce, plus more for topping
In This Recipe
Pulse chopped sardines in a food processor until it resembles a chunky paste. Clean and repeat the process with anchovies, sausage, and prosciutto/bacon—separately. Keep each processed ingredient separate and set aside.
Add 1 cup vegetable oil to a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until fragrant and translucent (about 30 seconds), stirring constantly. Add crushed red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Add garlic, ginger, five spice powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, stirring to combine.
In separate batches, add sardines, anchovies, sausage, and prosciutto/bacon, stirring after each addition.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until oil is infused (about 20 minutes), stirring every few minutes. Let cool a bit before serving or transferring to a container. You can store XO sauce in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Shrimp & Grits
Bring stock and coconut milk to a boil. Add grits, stirring to incorporate evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until grits are cooked, about 20 minutes. Stir in the butter.
Add XO sauce to a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sauté until shrimp are pink, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Assemble plates with grits on the bottom and sautéed shrimp on top. Top with more XO sauce, if desired. Garnish with chopped parsley.