Susan Jung's recipes

Video: Home Cooking with Susan Jung - how to make XO Sauce

Add to noodle dishes for extra kick

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 February, 2015, 3:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 3:08pm

Want to impress your friends this Chinese New Year with the perfect dinner accompaniment? XO sauce, a spicy seafood sauce that originated in Hong Kong and is commonly used in China, can jazz up most meals. Here, in her debut cookery video, SCMP's Susan Jung shows you how to make your own.


500 grams dried scallops

300 grams shallots, minced

12 large garlic cloves, minced

100 grams small dried shrimp

75 grams Chinese dried ham, cut into tiny cubes

6-8 red bird's-eye chillies (stems and seeds removed and discarded), minced

10-20 grams fine chilli flakes 

750ml canola or corn oil, plus more as needed

Optional ingredients: fish sauce or soy sauce (about 60ml), dried shrimp eggs (one or two heaped tablespoons)


Rinse the scallops, put them in a heat-proof bowl and steam over simmering water for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Check the scallops to see if they're soft enough to break apart easily. When they're ready, put them in a zip-lock bag, seal it and pound the scallops with a meat mallet, until they're broken apart into thick shreds. This is easiest to do while the scallops are hot; they harden when cool. Remove and discard any hard bits. 

Heat about 200ml of oil in a wok, add the shallots and stir to coat with the oil. Add in the scallops, garlic, shrimp, ham, fresh chillies and chilli flakes, as well as any optional ingredients you want to include. Stir in as much oil as needed to thickly coat the ingredients. Cook over a medium flame until the oil starts to sizzle, then lower the heat as much as possible so everything cooks at a bare simmer. Cook for several hours, stirring frequently.

When the XO sauce is ready, ladle it into alarge, sterilised, heat-proof jar. Pack it tightly into the jar, then add more oil so the ingredients are submerged. Store the jar in the fridge.  

Susan’s tip: You can change the proportions of dried scallops and shrimp, but the total weight of dried seafood should be 600 grams. There's no need to buy the largest (and most expensive) dried scallops, but if they're too small, they'll be tougher and chewier. For the dried shrimp, though, look for very tiny ones - if they're too large, you might need to chop them into smaller pieces.