A relative newcomer to the condiment stage, XO sauce is believed to have originated in Hong Kong around the 1980’s. The name XO comes from cognac – meaning ‘extra old’ –as a nod to exclusivity and affluence, although no liquor is included. This condiment contains a number of luxury ingredients including dried shrimp, scallops, or squid, and Jinhua ham (A Chinese ham similar to prosciutto), making it expensive to prepare or buy. Chili powder is another star of the chunky sauce, although XO sauce isn’t meant to be unbearably spicy. The interesting thing about XO sauce is that there is no standard; it can be twisted to fit the norms of certain regions, styles, and flavor preferences.
Nikken created a vegetarian version of an XO sauce to keep up with the growing demand for vegetarian alternatives of popular foods. Our 2115 Shiitake powder and 5320 Roasted Soy Sauce powder naturally come together to create an umami bomb, enhancing the sauce. Our 2310 Roasted Chinese Cabbage Extract powder works to deliver cooked, vegetal notes with mild sweetness, while the Shiitake and Soy Sauce powders work together to make the sauce complex, savory and mouthwatering. We included the unique component of Dulse seaweed, which tastes similar to bacon when cooked, to help deliver the cured meat notes present in a traditional XO sauce with ham. Dulse seaweed also has a faint briny and oceanic quality, which helps replicate the seafood notes of a typical XO sauce. Try our XO sauce on noodles with peanuts and bean sprouts, or marinate tofu for a spicy addition to a stir-fry.