XO Sauce

  • Ready in: 5 hours 45 minutes
  • Serves: 12
  • Complexity: advanced
  • kcal: 60
XO Sauce


  • 300g dried scallops
  • 300g large dried shrimp
  • 8 tbsp Shaoxing wine, divided
  • boiling water
  • 14 large shallots, finely diced
  • 3 heads of garlic, finely minced
  • 10 fresh red chilli peppers, seeded & fine diced
  • 200g salty ham
  • 1¾ cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 7 cups rice bran oil
  • 2 tbsp dark mushroom soy sauce
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ½ cup dried chilli flakes


  1. Measure out dried shrimp and scallops into two separate large bowls. Add 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine to each bowl and pour enough boiling water over the top to submerge the seafood. Soak the shrimp for one hour. Soak the scallops for 4-6 hours.
    While that’s happening, prepare shallots and garlic. I highly recommend using a food processor for this. Thinly slice the shallots first by hand, then pulse into a fine dice. Pulse the whole garlic cloves until minced. Prepare the chilli peppers and set aside as well.
    When the soaking times have elapsed, drain the seafood. Heat the steamer over high heat and steam the scallops and ham in heatproof bowls for 15 minutes. Reserve any liquid that dripped into the bowl with the scallops.
    When the 15 minutes have elapsed, remove both from the steamer and let cool. Shred the scallops into threads by breaking them up between your fingers. Using a food processor, pulse the scallops about 6-7 times, in 3 batches, until they resemble short, fine threads. Next, pulse the shrimp about 7-8 times, until they resemble coarse crumbs. Mince the ham by hand - best to avoid your ham from resembling cat food!
    Collect the water from steaming the scallops (whatever dripped off into the bowl that the scallops were in while you were steaming–the amount will vary each time you do it and that’s fine) and mix with 1¾ cups chicken stock and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Set aside.
    In a large wok, heat your 7 cups of oil to 110°C - it’s hot enough when a chopstick dipped in the oil bubbles slightly. The oil temperature for the duration of the cooking process can range between 105-120°C, or on your stovetop, between medium-high and high heat, depending on what you are adding to the oil and how much. If your wok is too small for safe frying, use any other large, deep pot. A dutch oven would also work well.
    Add all of the scallops and let fry for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and fry the mixture for 15 minutes then add the ham and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add chopped chilli peppers and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
    Turn off the heat. Using a fine-meshed strainer, transfer the seafood mixture to another large skillet or wok, letting the oil drain off.
    Turn the heat on again and let the oil come back up to 110°C. Add the shallots and fry for 10 minutes. They should become slightly golden but not crispy.
    While that’s happening, heat your second wok over medium-high heat. Add the last 6 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine, 2 tablespoons of dark mushroom soy sauce and the sugar/chicken stock mixture you prepared earlier. Stir to combine and simmer to let the liquid cook off.
    Next, add the garlic to the shallots and cook for 10 minutes, keeping an eye on your second wok. The garlic should get golden and slightly crisped.
    When the liquid has cooked off in your seafood mixture and the shallot/garlic mixture is the correct color, carefully pour the seafood mixture back into the main wok. Lower the heat to medium and stir to combine. Add the fish sauce and chilli flakes, stirring to combine.
    Transfer to clean, sterile containers and let cool on the counters before refrigerating. You can eat the XO sauce right away or you can let the flavors meld for 2 to 3 days before digging in!
    Add to rice dishes (Scallop Fried Rice with XO Sauce and Crispy Garlic), noodle dishes, vegetable dishes, etc. to your heart’s content!