Last night I went for a walk, not expecting to eat out, but I came across "Confucius", my favorite Chinese restaurant in Jersey City, NJ. The manager greeted me at the door and quickly told me he had made a good deal on Lobsters and this evening his lobster dishes were no-more expensive than a regular entry.
The exact circumstances surrounding the birth of spicy XO sauce are unknown. It is likely that the combination of dried chili peppers, dried shrimp, dried scallops, garlic, and other seasonings first graced the table of one of Hong Kong's pricier dining establishments. Furthermore, it's probably not a coincidence that the creators of XO sauce chose to name it after a popular but decidedly expensive brandy: ordering a bottle will add dollars to your restaurant bill.
- Vermicelli rice noodles:
Rice vermicelli are thin noodles made from rice. They are sometimes referred to as rice sticks, but they should not be confused with cellophane noodles, which are another type of vermicelli.
- Live Whole Lobster, (remove intestine, then chop into bite-sized pieced, shell and all)
- Scallions, chopped
- Celery, chopped
- Garlic, diced
- Garlic, diced
- Oil & butter
- Put water into the pot, add condensed X.O. sauce (see below) bring to a boil. - Taste for richness, adjust with more X.O.Sauce or water.
- Chop-up lobster and coat all pieces in cornstarch. Sautee the lobster in sesame oil & butter along with chopped scallion greens and whites plus chopped celery and diced garlic, sautee all until cornstarch begins to brown, then pour into the X.O. broth and stir.
- Bring broth back to a boil, and cook lobsters until done.
For X.O. Sauce
1/4 cup dried scallops
1/3 cups Chinese sausage
1/4 cup dried small shrimp
1/4 cup dried crab meat
1/2 cup minced ginger
1/2 cup minced shallot
1/2 cup minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons fermented bean paste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sesame oil
- Cover the dried scallops, shrimp and crab meat with boiling water and rehydrate overnight in the refrigerator.
- The next day, drain the water from the seafood. Render the fresh sausage carefully, going for a deep golden brown without burning. Pour off the fat except for 1/2 cup.
- Meanwhile, slice the dried scallops, shrimp and crab meat until finely chopped. Reserve. Once the sausage has caramelized, add the red pepper and cook 30 seconds, then add remaining ingredients including the reserved 1/2 cup sausage fat (but not the sesame oil) and cook very slowly, stirring frequently. The idea is to lightly caramelize the mixture by cooking slowly for 20-45 minutes.
- Once desired color has been achieved, add sesame oil. Combine well and adjust seasoning.