Tired of the Sriracha trend? Make this traditional XO Sauce instead


Diana Kuan makes her Traditional XO Sauce in the Salon kitchen. Watch the how-to recipe video above and find the full text below.

“XO” is Hong Kong shorthand for something high-quality and luxurious, originating from a description for aged cognac that was popular in the territory. Created in Hong Kong just a few decades ago by a few enterprising chefs, the earthy and aromatic XO sauce immediately became beloved by local diners. Later, as Hong Kong chefs emigrated to the US, Canada, Australia, and beyond, and opened restaurants, more people around the world were introduced to the wonders of this magical ingredient.

Makes 1 quart

6 ounces dried scallops

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

60 dried red cayenne, Japones, or Tien Tsin chilies, coarsely chopped

3 fresh jalapeño or Fresno chilies

6 ounces dried shrimp

3 large shallots, coarsely chopped

4 ounces bacon, minced

⅓ cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Place the scallops in a steamer insert and fit the steamer insert into a small saucepan filled with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan and steam until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer the scallops to a cutting board and save about 3/4 cup of the liquid in the pan. When the scallops are cool enough to touch, shred them by breaking them up with your fingers. Transfer to a food processor and process until they resemble very fine threads. Transfer to a bowl.

2. In the food processor, combine the garlic, dried chilies, and fresh chilies and pulse until it resembles a paste. Transfer the garlic-chili paste to another bowl.

3. In the food processor, pulse the dried shrimp, shallots, and bacon until minced. Scrape out and set aside in a third bowl.

4. In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp/shallot/bacon mixture and stir-fry until the mixture is bubbling, very fragrant, and starting to crisp up, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cook until the mixture is slightly caramelized, another 30 seconds. Add the shredded scallops and garlic-chili paste and cook for another 30 seconds, then add the reserved scallop steaming juices. Cook until the liquid is almost gone, another 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool before transferring to glass containers for storage. XO sauce will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge, if you don’t manage to slather it on everything the first week!

This recipe is reprinted from Red Hot Kitchen: Classic Asian Chili Sauces from Scratch and Delicious Dishes to Make With Them by arrangement with Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019, Diana Kuan.

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