I can’t get enough of XO sauce – this rich, complex Chinese dish is a must for any chilli lovers. You can buy XO sauce from Asian supermarkets but I’ve never found one I liked – they’re often overly salty or too sweet, plus making your own is very simple. I double the XO sauce recipe and keep a jar in the refrigerator so I can whip this up whenever I’m home from work late. Some XO recipes call for prosciutto or jamon however I don’t think that’s necessary. Soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles) are a great source of amino acids and fibre and are the perfect accompaniment to the XO prawns. This dish works equally well with chicken, pork or any other seafood.
- 50 g (2 oz) dried shrimp*, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
- 8 long red chillies, seeds left in, roughly chopped
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) red shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) rice bran oil or any neutral oil with a high smoking point
- 3 teaspoons light palm sugar
- 90 ml (3 fl oz) Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 120 ml (4 fl oz) tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice bran oil (or peanut oil)
- 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) raw green shrimp (prawns), peeled (tails intact) and deveined
- 2 free-range egg whites, lightly beaten
- 90 ml (3 fl oz) prawn or chicken stock
- 250 g (9 oz) soba (look for 100% buckwheat to ensure gluten free) noodles
- 80 g (3 oz) XO sauce (recipe above)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve
- fresh micro coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
- For the XO sauce, drain the dried shrimp and roughly chop. Place dried shrimp in a food processor with garlic, ginger, chilli and shallots and blend until combined.
- Add 100 ml rice bran oil to a wok and heat to medium. Add the garlic mixture from the food processor. Cook for 5–6 minutes, then add the palm sugar. Cook for a few minutes then de-glaze the wok with Shaoxing wine. Stir through the sesame oil and tamari sauce, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the soba noodles and cook until tender, but still al dente, about 5–8 minutes (check with the packet instructions). Drain, rinse well under cold water and set aside. Once XO sauce is cooked, reserve 80 g to stir fry. Store remaining XO sauce in a sterilized jar. It will keep in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 6 months.
- To cook the shrimp, heat 1 tablespoon oil in the same wok over high heat. Add half the shrimp and cook, tossing regularly until they turn opaque, about 1 minute. Set aside and repeat with remaining shrimp. Return all the shrimp to the wok, add reserved XO sauce and toss to coat. Stir through beaten egg whites and swirl until the egg sets against the wok. Pour in stock and quickly stir through.
- Divide soba noodles between bowls and top with XO shrimp. Scatter with coriander and serve with a wedge of lime and a dollop of XO sauce.
*Dried shrimp are available from Asian food shops.
Images: New Holland Publishers. Photographer Kyle Manning; Stylist Jane Graystone.