Developed in Hong Kong during the 1980s as a pairing for Cantonese cuisine, XO sauce is deeply rooted in the city’s affections.
While the jammy creation is named after the popular, premium cognac brand XO, you might be surprised to learn the recipe doesn’t have any liquor in it at all.
Instead, the famous sauce is usually made of roughly chopped dried scallops, fish, and shrimp, cooked with chilli peppers, onions, and garlic. Whether used for cooking or as a table condiment, it’s one of those flavour-bomb sauces that enhances whatever it touches.
But not every XO sauce is made equal – and when it comes to beautifully balancing tangy, sweet, smokey, and salty flavours, the secret recipe from Shang Palace, Kowloon Shangri-La, is one of the city’s best.
The Hong Kong institution has retained its coveted Michelin star award for over 10 years consecutively thanks to the flawless taste and presentation of its menu, which showcases refined classic Cantonese fare like Roasted Peking Duck, Imperial Bird’s Nest, and Braised Abalone.
And while Executive Chinese Chef Daniel Cheung Long-yin’s 30 plus years of experience has wreathed Shang Palace in awards, it’s this little side dish of a humble homemade sauce that has managed to garner some of the biggest buzz.
As for what to dip into the restaurant’s famed condiment? Chef Cheung Long-yin Shan recommends pairing it with dim sum as it accentuates its flavours and adds a hint of spiciness to the palate.
For those who prefer eating at home, you can have jars of Shang Palace’s coveted condiment delivered straight to your door with the help of Shangri-La’s online store.
The sauce elevates almost all types of Cantonese cuisine, so you’ll find use for it well beyond dim sum – from stir-fried vegetables, grilled meats, noodles, steamed fish, and turnip pudding.
In fact, foodies know that it’s even delicious over plain steamed rice.
While you’re perusing the online store, we suggest bolstering up your cart with Shang Palace’s Sweetened Walnuts with Sesame, Sea Salt Roasted Cashew Nuts, and another delicious classic condiment, Chilli Garlic Sauce. Each comes beautifully-packed in red and gold gift boxes, too – perfect for knocking out your Lunar New Year gift shopping a little early this year.