XO is a sauce that is named after a high-end drink with expensive ingredients and back in the days served at high-end restaurants but now a staple condiment in all restaurants across the world. 






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 1 kg pippies, rinsed
  • 3 tsp cornflour mixed with 100 ml water
  • coriander leaves, to serve

XO sauce

  • 50 g dried scallops, soaked overnight in 200 ml water
  • 60 g dried shrimp, soaked overnight in 200 ml water
  • 440 ml canola oil
  • 100 g Jinhua ham or jamón, diced
  • 150 g garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 150 g red Asian shallots, thinly sliced  
  • 50 g long red chilli, chopped
  • 40 g dried red chilli, chopped
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • 10 g shrimp paste
  • 60 ml XO cognac

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


This recipe needs to be started one day in advance

Serves 4 as part of a shared meal

  1. For the XO sauce, drain the scallops and reserve the soaking water. Drain the shrimp and discard the soaking water.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy–based saucepan or wok to 180°C. Add the drained scallops and shrimp and cook until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Add the jamón and cook until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the scallops and shrimp.
  3. Add the garlic, shallots, fresh and dried chillies to the oil and fry until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the scallops and shrimp.
  4. Add all the fried ingredients, the reserved scallop soaking water and the sugar to the pan of frying oil and simmer for 3–4 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Stir in the shrimp paste and cook for 7–8 minutes, stirring continuously until thick and caramelised. Add the XO cognac, simmer for 15–20 seconds, then remove from the heat.  
  5. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pippies and cook just until the pippies have opened. Drain and discard any unopened pippies.
  6. Heat a large wok over high heat. Add 3–4 tablespoons XO sauce and cook until sizzling. Add the pippies and 375 ml (1½ cups) water and bring to the boil. Add the cornflour mixture and toss until thickened. Transfer to a serving platter, scatter with coriander leaves and serve immediately.



If you prefer the texture of the XO sauce a bit jammier in texture, then place in a food processor and give it a quick blitz. This recipe makes more XO sauce than you need for this recipe, but the remainder will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.


Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.

Photography by Adam Liaw.