XO Sauce

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Analysis of XO Sauce and its syngergistic properties

The Uncanny Canadian

Abstract: XO Sauce is an intriguing and complex condiment, whose efficacy in deliciousness is uncharacterized at Delicious or Disgusting. We assayed XO sauce on Trader Joe’s shrimp gyoza, and found that whereas the sauce on its own was too fishy and tentacly, in combination with gingery soy marinade, it enhanced the pre-existing flavours of both the marinade and gyoza and made the meal spectacularly delicious. Further analysis should reveal the optimal utility of XO sauce.

Introduction: XO Sauce was first brought to the attention of Three Bulls! in a comment written by Res Publica about Asian sauces. We were intrigued. Given that: a) condiments are delicious, b) Asian food is delicious, and c) we write about delicious foods, we attempted to define the deliciousness of XO factor through systematic empirical observation. XO sauce can be obtained from a variety of manufacturers and rather than a single concoction, is actually a collection of high-end seafood-based hot sauces. The Lee Jum Kee variety contains the following seafood: dried shrimp, dried scallop, shrimp roe, oyster extractives, and other uncharacterized crustacean products in combination with soybean oil, ,chili, pepper, water, shallot, chili pepper powder, dried garlic, sugar, salt, and other flavourings. As such, it is both complex and poorly defined.
Materials and Methods: Trader Joe’s Thai shrimp gyoza, Trader Joe’s ginger soy marinade, and Trader Joe’s 100% Canola oil were purchased from Trader Joe’s. Lee Kum Kee XO Sauce, Extra Hot, was purchased at Super 88. Preparation of shrimp gyoza was performed according to the manufacturer’s directions for pan frying on a GE stove using a standard teflon-coated skillet. All tastings were performed in duplicate using matched gyoza.
Results: In order to test the deliciousness of XO sauce and other condiments of interest, we first set up an assay based on the consumption of shrimp gyoza. Gyoza were pan fried and sampled using a base sauce, find to be an excellent dipping sauce for gyoza, Trader Joe’s Ginger Soy Marinade (see Materials and Methods). We used the marinade as a control both to normalize the palette and to look for possible interactions. Importantly, the ginger goy marinade was not spicy and therefore did not attenuate possible spice response. Shrimp gyoza eaten with the marinade were given a normalized score of 8/10 (Table 1).

Next, we ate gyoza with XO sauce directly applied. Since the XO sauce contains both supernatant (oil) and precipitate (seafood) compartments, we were careful to ensure that both compartments were assayed separately and then combined in different bites of the gyoza.  Overall, we were disappointed with net effect of XO sauce on the gyoza.  In the absence of a suitable carrier, the seafood component of the precipitate had a noticable and crustacean texture and overall too strong a seafood taste, most notably that of dried shrimp.  Even though the supernatant contained chili and garlic, these flavours did not give a satisfactory counterpoint to the seafood.  The average score of XO sauce alone was 6/10 (Table 1).

Finally, we assayed for synergistic effects by mixing XO sauce with the ginger soy marinade in an approximate 1:5 ratio.  Consumption of the marinade/XO mixture had a delightful and delicious result.  We found the XO sauce, when appropriately diluted in ginger soy marinade imparted a layer of complexity to the gyoza that made each bite an adventure in flavour.  The strong seafood presence was gone, and instead, the filling of the gyoza appeared more interesting and exotic than with either sauce on its own.  Furthermore, the slight spiciness of the XO sauce increased the boldness of the marinade and brought a very slight tingle to the tongue.  The overall score of ginger soy marinade/XO was 9.25/10 (Table 1).

Table 1:  Gyoza scores

Trade Joe’s Ginger Soy Marinade alone:  8/10

XO Sauce alone:  6/10

Ginger Soy Marinade:XO Sauce (5:1):  9.25/10

Discussion:  XO sauce, though incredibly interesting and diverse on its own, may not be suitable as a condiment on its own.  Although widely used in such dishes as chili fried rice and a number of dim sum preparations, XO sauce deserves further investigational analysis in a variety of condiment combinations.  In particular, blander foods such as tofu or noodles might serve to gain even more from inclusion of XO sauce than gyoza, which are very delicious, even in the absence of any dipping sauce.  It is important that XO sauce be combined with something containing sufficient viscosity to effectively combine the supernatant and precipitate.

References:  Wikipedia

Acknowledgements:  UC would like to thank Pinko Punko for the generous gift of XO Sauce and for the idea of testing condiments on gyoza.  This work was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Condimental Research (to UC).

The authors declare no competing financial interests

30 Responses to “XO Sauce”


  • I found this work to be both important to condiment research and to the general food community. Some small quibbles could be made with the assertions that ginger-soy marinade would be an appropriate mix for XO sauce reagent, however, sometimes science does not fit our preconceived notions. If the authors were to do some additional experiments, perhaps a simple spicy green beans with XO sauce could be attemtped. The work, however, should be published immediately, notwithstanding its uninclusive non-kosherness. While not appropriate for higher traffic blogs, such as Talking Points Memo, a specialty blog such as Delicious or Disgusting should more than welcome this well thought out contribution.

  • I dare you to submit this to PlosOne. Heh. Even THEY probably would take this.

  • We do NOT appreciate this condiment. The sad plight of our peoples!

  • I wonder if you considered normalizing your results by sugar, salt and fat concentrations? That might lead you to a somewhat different conclusion.

    Also I think that you need to explain your choice of substrates. While the gyoza is no doubt a common substrate I think the article would benefit from an explanation as to why it was chosen for this experiment.

    There also appears to be a discrepancy in the significant figures between the scores. Is this a result of method or is there something else at play here?

    All in all a fascinating article, worthy as Reviewer 1 says, of immediate publication with minor corrections. Please consider my comments as a desire to learn more about this subject not as a criticism of the paper itself.

  • The Uncanny Canadian

    Reviewer I: I agree with your critiques and comments. The narrow scope of experimental subjects meant that I couldn’t submit the paper to Condiment Cell or Nature Condiments. I was slightly concerned by the very very low citation index of Delicious or Disgusting, but I believe too strongly in open access publication.

    Gregor Samsa: I tried to pick a marinade that had a balance of sugar, salt, and fat but no spice. I do think the results would change by normalization, however my frying pan can only fit so many gyoza, y’know. Gyoza were chosen because of their availability from Trader Joe’s, which was key to the experiment. Also, they had shrimp in them. Yummy.

    As a small note added in proof, I want to point out that XO sauce, if not cleaned from surfaces immediately, tends to perdure in aroma, which is negative. Very nasty. Make sure to clean those hands ASAP before your laptop keyboard also offends various scallops and oysters.

  • Aliquots! The paper needs aliquots!!!11~!

  • I could not help but notice a mention of a rogue sauce that suddenly appeared in the text of the study without any former mention of its fundamental properties or its use in the protocol — namely the ginger goy marinade which appears at approximately line 31. Is this a combination of mayonnaise, white bread crumbs and candied ginger? What would be its uses? Perhaps it is a condiment for Coca-Cola baked ham? I don’t think it would be good with XO Sauce even if most Asians are also goyim. Any ideas?

  • OMG. I cannot believe I date a person who would actually write something this lame. Then his wanna-be BFF writes a post to send people over here?

    Fish, if you are reading this, please promise me you aren’t this sad!

    Discussion: Sad! Very Sad.

  • I was supposed to be reviewer #2, but I had to pass because of a conflict. UC ate several of my colleagues in the shrimp goyza. I did however notice in reading the abstract that UC came to the conclusion that XO sauce was “on its own was too fishy and tentacly”. It was obvious from this statement that all conclusions in the manuscript were suspect. First, there is no such thing as being “too fishy” this is simply absurd at face value and can be summarily dismissed. Second, you cannot be “fishy and tentacly” at the same time as tentacled sea creatures are not fish. Frankly, they are never even allowed in the fish club house. They have real problems with wandering hands on the more attractive female waitresses and it is impossible to keep tabs on all their hands…

  • The Uncanny Canadian

    Fish has some really valid points. I may need to retract the paper.

  • The spam filter ate the comment I left right after Gregor’s call for aliquots! That’s really unfair and I am profoundly hurt. That is all.

  • In particular, blander foods such as tofu or noodles might serve to gain even more from inclusion of XO sauce than gyoza, which are very delicious, even in the absence of any dipping sauce.

    I can confirm that this indeed the case, although no gyoza ever suffered from the addition of a delicious dipping sauce.

    Try mixing up your 5:1 marinade & XO mix while the dumplings are frying…once they’re crisp on one side, dump that into the pan and cover tightly. Let the dumplings steam in that sauce for a minute, toss them around to evenly coat with the sauce, and then shove them directly in your piehole. You’ll love it.

  • Annoncemen

    AG is no longer with SBL. He is a total and complete cobag.

    A new SBL may be on the horizon. Details to follow.

    Fish and AG are over too.

    Fish is too much of spinanch dip geek for AG. AG will no longer stalk Fish.

    On a good note, AG has found a nice Jewish Israeli on JDate to consider.

    Harumph!

  • Why don’t you just out SBL and be done with it?

    May I point everyone to Clif’s Akismet-rocked comment above.

    Poor Clif.

  • This blog discriminates against Clif. AG will help Clif with the suit. Let’s get ’em.

    You need to get over it, Pinks. You want AG to be all “It’s Pinko.” Which ain’t happening. Move on, doll. You don’t have the Je ne sais quoi that AG lusts after.

  • So it is Pinko then? *SOB*

  • Gregor, don’t be a schmuck!

    You know very well who it is, sugar bear.

  • I find this entire study to be nothing but a sham and a liberal conspiracy to promote global saucing. Who conducted the peer review? A real pinko who shares the same godless liberal presuppositions of acceptable sauciness as the author. Not to mention the original research was done by someone who sprays “vagina” all over his blog and who blatantly begs for “gifts” (read: bribes).

    I have written a separate paper of my own, “Stimulantal superiorities of American beef-based condimentitries compared to trendy Asian fishswill,” but the conspiritorial review boards at The Journal of Yummytology and Sauces Today said my work was biased and unscientific. I ask you, who are the real biased and unscientific culprits here?

  • The Uncanny Canadian

    Don’t even get me started about the editorial policies of The Journal of Yummytology and Sauces Today (JYST). The entire JYST review board is very pro-fishswill. The politics are pungent.

  • “Professor T. Foil Le Chapeau”….damn I wish I’d thought of that. That would totally be my nom de blog.

  • Don’t even get me started about the editorial policies of The Journal of Yummytology and Sauces Today (JYST). The entire JYST review board is very pro-fishswill. The politics are pungent.

    This coming from a man who wrote for it during his 800 years of graduate studies.

    BTW UC, why don’t you make something of yourself and become a real doctor.

  • The entire JYST review board is very pro-fishswill. The politics are pungent.

    THIS IS MY LAST WARNING!!!!!one!!!eleven!!!!twominusone!!

  • someone give these guys a grant already. The world needs this information.

  • The Uncanny Canadian

    Exactly, Kathleen. Think of what condimentry we could perform here with additional funds.

  • NICDS

    National Institute of Condiment and Dip Science

  • CEI

    Condiment Enterprise Institute.

  • And would this be the new ad for the Condiment Enterprise Institute?

    “PCBs. Some call it toxic waste. We call it a condiment.”

  • Haha, something like that. They would be extremely pro-MSG, that is for certain.

    “Enhancing flavor, enhancing your life.”

  • CATO Institute: Condiments Are Totally Outstanding.

    We believe that tax payers should be allowed to put aside pre-tax dollars for the purchase of condiments.

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