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One of the things I found after going paleo was that most asian sauces and condiments are decidedly non-paleo, which was tricky and not very convenient. Most store-bought asian sauces contain one or more of the following non-paleo ingredients: sugar, soybean oil, vegetable oil, soy, wheat and MSG. The top ingredient in hoisin sauce is sugar, which is also found in every oyster sauce and some soy and fish sauces. Don’t despair though, there are a few goodies to be found. Mae Ploy thai curry pastes are generally ok and don’t contain sugar or vegetable oils. Red Boat Fish Sauce is sugar-free, though hard to find (I bought a bottle from the fruit shop at Rhodes Shopping Centre), and I also found a thai chilli sauce which is paleo-friendly.
So what to do? Make your own! Like this XO sauce, the original recipe for which comes from Adam Liaw, the Masterchef winner. I have amended the original recipe to make it more paleo and also adapted it to my tastes. It is not 100% paleo because the lup yook – chinese bacon – is made with non-paleo seasonings like sugar and soy sauce, but you can leave it out or substitute with prosciutto if preferred. Leftover lup yook can be frozen.
I don’t like to have a lot of oil floating at the top of my XO sauce so I reduced the quantity of oil and tweaked the seasonings to ramp it up a bit. XO sauce is named after XO cognac, the ‘XO’ designating a prestige product. XO sauce doesn’t actually contain alcohol and has nothing to do with cognac. Adding XO sauce to simply stir-fried or steamed asian greens will take it to another level. Imagine the difference between playing slot machines in your local pub and being invited to the VIP room at Caesar’s. Actually neither of those appeals to me … but you get the idea. It is great with steamed seafood, or add a few generous dollops to stir-fried snow peas and prawns. I like to spoon off the oil and use it to stir-fry asian greens, makes the dish very tasty indeed.
- 50g dried scallops, soaked in water overnight
- 50g dried shrimp, soaked for 1 hour
- 290g extra light olive oil
- 4 large red or golden shallots (or 1 large red or brown onion), peeled and finely chopped (I process in food processor)
- 5 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (I process in food processor)
- 60g lup yook (Chinese bacon, available from asian grocers, found near the chinese dried sausages), or chinese sausage ‘lup cheong’ or prosciutto, finely chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp chilli powder (cayenne)
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (or gluten-free soy, tamari or coconut aminos)
- 1 ½ tsp fish sauce
- Drain the scallops and shrimp. (The soaking liquid is not used in this recipe but is tasty and can be reserved for using wherever stock or a bit of umami is called for.) Shred the scallops using your fingers to separate the strands. I find this highly tedious but if you have access to child labour, their nimble little fingers would be perfect for this task. Roughly chop the shrimp in a food processor (or mince using a knife).
- Heat 1 cup of the oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium heat and fry the onion/shallots, chilli flakes and garlic for 10 minutes. Add scallops, shrimp, lup yook/lup cheong/prosciutto, salt, chilli powder, soy sauce and fish sauce and fry for a further 10 minutes.
- Add remaining oil and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes or until the sauce is oily and jammy. Place into sterilised jars and screw on lid whilst hot so it will form a vacuum. It will keep for months in the fridge.
For another condiment recipe, check out NomNom Paleo’s Paleo Sriracha.