Considered the emperor of all sauces in Hong Kong, the famous XO sauce is served at gourmet restaurants and is made with high quality seafood ingredients primarily consisting of dried scallops and shrimps and dry-cured ham from the city of Jinhua. The brininess of the seafood and ham is balanced with the fragrant sweetness of fried shallots and garlic. Dried chili peppers give it a lively kick that intensifies the flavors of the sauce. Not only is it a deliciously addictive condiment, it also adds incredible complexity to rice and noodles dishes.
There’re named brands, like Lee Kum Kee selling this sauce at $10 for 2.8 ounces. The product is decent, but too pricy. My husband can finish the whole jar after 3 meals.
Traditional XO sauce includes red chili peppers. If you can’t deal with the heat, red banana peppers or sweet peppers work fine for enhancing the colors and flavors.
If you can’t find Jinhua ham in local asian markets, use serrano ham or prosciutto as substitutions. Enjoy!