Global Brands Magazine
3 Oct 2021
XO sauce is a spicy seafood sauce that is traditionally made from ground-up dried and fermented shellfish and spices. The sauce is spicy, salty, pungent with a hint of sweetness. It’s not for everyone but many people love it, especially in Cantonese-speaking China and Hong Kong.
Named after XO cognac, XO sauce is especially luxurious and expensive. Its history is unknown but it is thought to have appeared in the 1980s. The most expensive XO sauces are made by blending cognac and other spirits with dried seafood, nuts, and spices. Top-grade XOs can be aged for as long as 30 years or more before being sold at up to several hundred dollars a bottle.
Typical ingredients for XO sauce include conpoy (dried scallops), Jinhua ham, shallots, garlic, chili, and oil. Such a varied blend of fine ingredients all contribute to XO sauce’s mouthwatering depth of meaty richness, given by the cured ham and scallop ingredients. The sharpness of the shallots and pungency of the garlic and chili all contribute to the overall flavor but take a backseat to the powerful cured meat flavor.
Here are the best brands of XO sauce on supermarket shelves today:
1. Chilli Fagara XO Sauce
This sauce is made by a company in Hong Kong which makes high-quality sauces. The Chilli Fagara XO Sauce is spicy and aromatic with the dried seafood giving it a unique taste that stands out from other brands on this list. It’s great for cooking stir-fries, noodles, and dipping dumplings, and spring rolls. An interesting XO sauce that tastes like it was made in an ancient stone mortar and pestle. The chili is cooked for hours, giving the sauce a numbing effect so you can easily eat this with your rice.
If you’re into expensive delicacies like caviar and truffles, XO sauce is for you. It’s not as pricey but it has an exotic taste that may go well with lobster, abalone, and other seafood dishes. It’s also great as a dip for bread and crackers.
The bottom line is that if you’re not into XO sauce, don’t force yourself to eat it because of its high price tag. It’s never too late to learn about this Chinese specialty.
Like other seafood sauces, XO sauce is also easy and cheap to make at home. What’s more, it can be kept for a long time if stored properly.
Don’t feel the need to dive straight into the high-end XO sauce; you can get a feel for it first by sticking to the supermarket shelf brands and see if it’s actually something worth investing in. If you’re a fan of that particular sweet, sour and spicy flavor that’s native to Szechuan dishes and Thai cuisine then XO sauce is a no-brainer for you.