Yap family “secret” XO sauce

by | Aug 2, 2017 | Food and cooking

Yap family “secret” XO sauce

by | Aug 2, 2017 | Food and cooking

So here it is… my secret XO sauce.  I told you I’d get there!

XO Cognac was one of my Ah-Mah’s (my paternal grandmother) favourite drinks.  I think it was trendy in the 80’s – when I was a kid.  I remember my mum talking about how expensive it was and how only the “classy people” drank it.  I must admit that I have not tasted it for a very long time (although I did buy my dad a bottle on a recent trip overseas from duty free and it cost like $350!!).

I think that as a child, I always thought that XO sauce had alcohol in it – but it doesn’t!!  It is just a flavour that goes really well with cognac… not that I drink cognac at all, but I DO love this sauce.

This sauce takes a little bit of prep but freezes and keeps well.  I usually freeze it in little sterilised jars so I can whip it out at any time to cook with.  Keeps in the fridge for probably around 3 months.

I love it because the taste just says to me – “Ahhhh… Malaysia.”  We went there every year or second year as kids to visit family, and the food there is like nowhere else on earth.  This is my little bit of Malaysia at home and   IT. IS. DELICIOUS.




50g dried shrimp

50g dried scallops

2 cups of peanut oil (but if you are peanut allergic – you can use canola or vegetable oil instead)

4 large red/golden shallots (I like the French ones) peeled and finely chopped

6-10 large red chillies, deseeded if you wish (hotter if you leave the seeds in; 6 for mild, 10 for hot)

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

50g of proscuitto, sliced as finely as you can manage

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

3 tsp of mild paprika (I use this so my kids can eat the sauce when I cook with it – you can use 3 tsp of chilli powder if you want)

1 tbs of dark soy



  1.  Soak the scallops and shrimp separately in 1 cup of hot water for an hour. Drain and reserve the liquid
  2. Shred the scallops by hand
  3. Blitz the shrimp in a food processor (or you can use a mortar and pestle if you are “old-school” like my mum)
  4. Heat 1 cup of oil in a wok over a medium heat and fry the shallots, chilli and garlic for a few minutes until aromatic and the oil separates from the solids
  5. Add the scallops, shrimp, procuitto, salt, sugar, paprika and soy sauce and fry for about 10 min
  6. Add the rest of the oil and turn the heat down to very low and simmer for about 20 min (the sauce will thicken up and start to look like a jam)
  7. Allow to cool before transferring to a sterilised jar (I use my microwave bottle steriliser!)


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About Dr Megs

About Dr Megs

Megan is a Brisbane and Ipswich-based paediatrician in public and private practice, and mum to two small children. You can usually find her working hard in private practice at Paeds in a Pod North Lakes and Greenslopes, and in public practice at Ipswich Hospital.

PLEASE NOTE: This blog is written for the purpose of providing GENERAL advice about common children's health topics (and of course recipes). It is NOT a substitute for a proper medical assessment and examination by a qualified physician. If your child is unwell, seek medical and attention and advice in person.