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XO Sauce

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What is it?

If you’ve not yet heard of XO sauce, you will soon because the deeply flavored, richly textured condiment is quickly gaining popularity here. Created in Hong Kong by chefs in the 1980s, XO is made by cooking down savory ingredients like dried scallops and shrimp, and often Chinese ham (which is dry-cured and smoked and isn’t exported to the United States), with spices, chiles, and shallots. XO is meant to imply the sauce, which retails for about $9 per 3-oz. jar, is extravagant, like “extra old” Cognac. Good thing that a little goes a long way. Add it to marinades, stir-fries, and sauces, and bask in the “I-don’t-know-what-this is-but-I-like-it” compliments that follow. Look for it in Chinese markets or online.

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