XO Sauce

2 cups dried shrimp
1/2 cup good-quality dried scallops
4 1/2 ounces hot soppressata, diced
1/2 cup Chinese sausage, about 2 links, cut into rounds (or bacon with 1 tablespoon honey added)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, or any neutral oil (do not use olive oil), plus more as needed
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons dried red chile flakes, plus more as desired
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup fried onions
1/2 cup frieds scallions (or an additional 1/4 cup fried onions)

Rehydrate the shrimp and scallops: Set each in a separate Tupperware container so that both the shrimp and scallops are submerged with water. Cover the container in an airtight lid (so that they’re pungent smell doesn’t get out, and your pet doesn’t get in), and set aside to soak for 8 hours, or overnight. Drain before using.

Place the hydrated shrimp and scallops into the food processor. Pulse several times until blended into a uniform shape, scraping down the sides to make sure everything blends evenly—the scallops will look rough and stringy, but should be completely blended with the shrimp.

Transfer the shrimp-scallop mixture to a large bowl, then add the soppressata and Chinese sausage into the food processor. Pulse until blended and uniform, about 10 seconds.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until just barely browned, then add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is just browned, about 1 minute.

Add the fish and meat mixture and cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute, then lower the heat and add the red chile flakes, ginger, anise, and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, then mix in the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce and cook for another minutes, until the fat has rendered and the mixture appears mostly dry. It’s important to keep stirring in order to keep the garlic and meat on the bottom from burning.

Mix in the fried onions and scallions, then add up to 1/4 cup additional oil, as needed. Either place in an airtight container to keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or serve with stir-fried vegetables, as a pasta sauce, with shrimp, or over salmon—it goes with almost everything.

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