Why Victorian chefs love XO, the Cantonese sauce of the moment

Source – Good Food Article
EMMA BREHENY – January 28 2022
Dish of burrata, radicchio and broad beans with his chorizo XO sauce. 

Chefs love its umami flavour. Diners love its exclusive-sounding name. It’s expensive yet versatile, labour-intensive but stores well for months.

It’s XO sauce, one of Hong Kong’s culinary gifts to the world and, right now, the darling of Australian chefs.

Across the country, restaurants are unhitching the Cantonese sauce from its usual sidecars of dumplings, rice and stir-fries, and pairing it with burrata cheese, steak tartare and pizza. Some are even playing with the fundamentals of the recipe itself.

Meanwhile, the chorizo XO at Pt Leo Estate in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is a smokier, porkier variation that the restaurant’s Spanish culinary director Josep Espuga created for an entree of burrata, XO and pickled radicchio.

Espuga needed a bridge between the Italian and Hong Kong parts of the dish, so he swapped China’s Jinhua ham often used in XO recipes for San Daniele prosciutto. Fried chorizo, made to his wife’s family recipe, provides the base oil.

The chef says XO’s versatility is a big part of its allure.

“It has a skeleton you have to follow – some ingredients have to be there, but you can make it your own.”

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