FOOD TREND: XO SAUCE
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 (read our review of 1251 restaurant here). Chantelle Nicholson, olive 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.