XO SAUCE

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Orig­i­nat­ing in Hong Kong, XO is a spicy seafood sauce that makes ev­ery­thing taste bet­ter. Fact. It can be served on the side, or used within a recipe, and tra­di­tion­ally fea­tures dried shell­fish (usu­ally shrimp and/or scal­lops), air-dried ham and plenty of chill­ies. You won’t yet find it widely avail­able in su­per­mar­kets, al­though savvy shop­pers may have spot­ted it in their lo­cal Chi­nese gro­cer. But, chefs across the UK have awo­ken to its umami su­per­pow­ers this year and are pro­vid­ing plenty of in­spi­ra­tion for how to use it. It can be stirred through rice, bound through noo­dles, flipped into stir fries, or smoth­ered over meat, fish and veg­gies. Chef James Cochran is serv­ing line-caught mack­erel with XO, cu­cum­ber and hazel­nut at his new restau­rant 1251 in Is­ling­ton. Chantelle Ni­chol­son, O Chef Awards nom­i­nee, makes XO aubergine with sesame, kali­bos cab­bage and fu­rikake (a Ja­panese sea­son­ing) at Tred­wells in Seven Di­als. And 2017 MasterChef quar­ter fi­nal­ist Alex Parker has been in­fus­ing his XO in a broth for dark soy gnoc­chi, scal­lops, clams and pick­led cock­les, for his Winch­ester sup­per club, Club Epi­cure. Be­low is our cheat’s ver­sion trans­formed into a crack­ing side dish, with in­gre­di­ents you can find in your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket. It’s great served with grilled mack­erel, roasted pork belly (if it’s soy-glazed, all the bet­ter) and crispy chicken wings.

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