Friday, March 23, 2007

Claude Tayag's XO Sauce

I mentioned before a trip I had taken with an awesome bunch of bloggers and food lovers to pursue culinary delights outside the city. We had so much fun the first time that we planned another food-filled adventure. This time our destination was Pampanga, a region known for its cuisine. After much emailing back and forth, we finally set off, all 20-plus of us ensconced in a mammoth bus we had hired from Gypsysoul’s (and incidentally C’s) company. We were literally like kids on a field trip!

Our main destination was Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung for lunch. They prepared a veritable feast! You can see a detailed menu here and here. I really enjoyed the appetizers, especially the crab fat sushi with kamias and the balo-balo (fermented rice) wrapped in mustard greens. Another favorite was the dessert, a small ball each of ube jalaya (purple yam jam) and macapuno (young sweet coconut), and a little square of kamote (yellow yam) resting on a silken blanket of sweetened, reduced carabao’s (domestic water buffalo) milk. So amazingly good and a perfect example of showcasing simple, but quality, ingredients and their naturally fine flavors.

A very pleasant surprise for me though came during the main course, when I was tearing through a grilled quail (while trying to maintain some level of finesse). They served it with two sauces, both made in-house: a deeply aromatic vinegar and XO chili sauce. Dubbed Xtra Ordinary sauce by its makers, it sure got my number! I was under its spell, piling it on my quail like it was nobody’s business. Thank goodness they sold it there (although they also can be found in groceries) because I was not leaving without a bottle! It’s made with smoked chili peppers, Chinese ham, and dried shrimps (and other secret stuff I’m sure!). It’s one of those condiments that can make you eat five times as much as you normally would. Super powers I tell you.

As always, when I’ve got a new food product to play around with, my mind races with ways to use it. In truth, it needn’t have raced at all. Because I can put it on practically anything. Even pizza! That being said, there was a dish that had been taking shape in my mind and I decided to put an XO stamp on it. I had seen a “stuffed” trout in Donna Hay Magazine’s issue #30 (ok, last Donna Hay recipe for awhile…I have other cookbooks, I swear!) and I wanted to try something like it. Instead of a stuffed whole fish, you use two fillets and place the filling in the middle, and tie it up with butcher’s string (like a roast). I had been thinking of a caramelized onion stuffing and now I decided to spike it with the XO sauce. I used cobbler fillet instead of trout, and, to put my own personal stamp on it, I wrapped the fish in bacon :)

XO Onion Stuffed Cobbler
(inspired by the Almond Trout in Donna Hay Magazine’s issue 30, and by Claude Tayag’s deliciously addicting XO sauce)

  • 2 cobbler or dory fillets (the biggest they have)
  • 6-7 strips of bacon or pancetta
  • 4 medium onions, sliced (for stuffing)
  • 1-2 medium onions, sliced (for pan)
  • 2 teaspoons Claude 9 XO chili sauce
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

- Prepare your pan. Scatter the 2 sliced onions in your baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.
- Prepare your stuffing. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and toss in the 4 sliced onions. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring so as not to burn them, until wilted. Add XO sauce. Start with 1 teaspoon and work your way up until you like the heat level. Season with cracked black pepper and salt (if needed). Cook until soft, caramelized and golden. Let cool.
- Lay bacon or pancetta over the onions in your pan. Place one fillet over the bacon/pancetta, squarely in the middle.
- Spoon caramelized onion mixture (make sure you cool the onion mixture first) on top on the fillet and top with the second fillet.
- Fold bacon/pancetta over second fillet and wrap tight.
- Tie the “package” with butcher’s string.
- Place in a 200C (390F) oven for about 35 minutes or until fish is cooked through and bacon is toasty.

I love the way this brings both C’s love for fish and my love for bacon together, bound by our common enthusiasm for all things spicy. Wait. Did I just use my relationship with my husband as a rationalization for adding bacon to this dish? No matter…It was good and that’s what counts! The stuffing was fantastic, the spiciness of the XO sauce balanced by the sweetness of the onions. I have to say, in all my excitement over the XO sauce, I may have added more than 2 teaspoons. It was quite spicy…ok by me, but I will definitely add less if I’m making this for guests.

The XO sauce it taking a breather in the fridge right now. I’m dying to take it out for a spin again. So here are some future uses:
- In my tuna sandwich
- In a salad dressing
- On burgers
- With dim sum (this is like that chili garlic sauce they serve with dim sum…only better)
- Drizzled on bangus (milkfish) and baked
- To flavor my mayo!
- To make chili chicken like the one I had in Boracay
- Added to Binagoongan (a Filipino dish of pork in shrimp paste)
- As a rub for grilled steaks
- A little bit sauteed with kani and garlic for a great appetizer, served with melba toast
- To add to my angulas (little eels, typical Spanish appetizer)
- In a veggie stir-fry
- With cream cheese

Ok, I’ll stop now.

You can read all about the belly-busting time we had in Pampanga here:
Our Awsome Planet
Eat Bangus


Mila Tan said...

Does C know you are using him to rationalizing your love for bacon? LOL Joey!

The sauce is a great addition to other food, or just plain on fried rice with garlic. Except when I have it with the latter, I eat too much rice!!! aieeeee, carbs!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ahh, Joey can I please come for dinner next time you serve this! That sounds so good. Also sounds like a wonderful bus trip!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love the idea of meat (beef, fish, chicken) involved in bacon/pancetta. It's delicious, Joey!

angelika said...

Ok I will definitely be joining Tanna but please leave the full amount of the sauce. I am not the usual kind of guest, right ? ;-)))Are foodbloggers ever usual guests ? Oh and how I envy you for your round of fellow foodblogging friends and the culinary tours you undertake ! At least I have just joined the slow food people here but I don't know if I can persuade any to start blogging....
Have a good weekend...

Brilynn said...

It's wrapped in bacon, I love it!

katrina said...

I like your idea of the XO sauce with cream cheese! Believe it or not, my jar of XO has not been opened, as I haven't decided what to use it with yet. But I'm heading off to buy cream cheese later! :-P

Socky said...

X.O. Sauce will transform the lowly pinakbet into a dish worthy of a queen!

Ree said...

ooh yum! but i don't think i have the patience to make this! i could probably eat five in the time it will take to make one. hehehe. but it looks obscenely yummy... *drooling*

where can you get the XO sauce again?

mae said...

Joey, the photos said it all. 100% drool factor.

Is this XO sauce only available in Phils?



hey joey,

your fish recipes looks soooo yummy!

miss everyone,

Anton said...

This is classic Joey! Ang sarap mong kumain! Can I borrow the photo of the bacon with fish? will post it in my blog hehehe....

christine said...

Love that second photo! Looks very professinally done. :) You're making me regret not getting any XO for myself. I'll have to get some soon.

Gattina said...

what a classy and elegant dish! I think I'll buy a jar next time when I go to Asian supermarket!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mila! Hahahaha! No he doesn't...well, he didn't until Friday, hehe :) It is a great addition to so many things, but yes, makes you eat sooo much rice!

Hi Tanna! Sure! :) It was a very fun day :)

Hi Patricia! I love it to...bacon really can make everything better for me :)

Hi Angelika! Definitely! I would love to have you both over for dinner :) Yes, I am really having fun getting together with them...they are a great bunch of people :)

Hi Brilynn! That's what I was thinking when I made it, hehe :)

Hi Katrina! Mine's already half gone! Let me know how the cream cheese comes out... :)

Hi Socky! Great idea! :)

Hi Ree! It's actually quite easy to make. After caramelizing the onions, it's just assembly and pop it in the oven :) Claude's XO sauce are available in most local groceries. I just saw some in Rustans Rockwell over the weekend :)

Hi Mae! Thanks! :) As far as I know it's only available here (Claude's), but I will check and let you know if ever :)

Hi Anne! Thanks! :) Hope to see you soon in another food-adventure! :)

Hi Anton! Dapat lang no! ;) Sure you can borrow the picture :)

Hi Nens! Ok, I have a dad just lent me his pro-camera! Yoiks! I am totally clueless with it and still feeling my way (I can't even carry it properly because it's so much bigger than what I am used to) but hopefully I will be able to take better pictures (cross fingers!) :)

Hi Gattina! Thank you :) If you do find it it's really delicious!

Freya and Paul said...

Great post! The fish looks wonderful! I bet the bacon infuses the fish with such a great taste!

Franco said...

Bacon and XO sauce. I am so trying this recipe. Thanks. Seriously drooling right now.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Freya! Thank you :) Yes, the bacon does give the fish a great flavor...and aroma!

Hi Franco! Thank you! :) I'm glad you enjoyed this post and I hope you enjoy this dish :)

Lani said...

Uy, Joey mukang obsessed ka sa XO sauce, well, I'm sure, it's really good. I love bacon also, anything with bacon, swak sa taste ko.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lani! Medyo lang! Hahaha! :) It's really good at sobrang pampagana! Anything with bacon is also good for me :)

dumbo_dawg said...

hey, i just stumbled upon this blog entry. that looks like a very delicious sinful dish by the way. i didn't know that the makers of this sauce had a restaurant! I just recently bought one from a supermarket out of curiousity, and i have since been putting it on everything! how in the world does this sauce match everything??? haha. i just cooked chicken breasts with crushed garlic and salt paste, baked with tomatoes in olive oil. and of course i added this sauce. yum. im gonna visit their restaurant soon now that i know there's one. =)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Dumbo Dawg! I share your XO sauce addiction! :) It really does go so well with a lot of dishes! The chicken you made sounds delicious!

His restaurant is in Pampanga and you can check out the site Our Awesome Planet for details :)

Anonymous said...

hi. am so glad you like the xo chili. it is doing so well in the market and may overtake our best seller, claude'9 a new baby too. claude'9 inasal marinade out in supermarkets na
your recipe of fish, bacon and xo sounds so good. i should try making that.
by the way iam new into this blog. hope am doing it right.

ChichaJo said...

Hi there! I love the XO chili...since this dish I have used it in so many things! It is really perfect :) Will check out the inasal marinade!

Anonymous said...

where can i get this sauce???

Chibu Maningat said...

do they have this in unimart or hypermarket or where???

ChichaJo said...

Hi! You can find it in Rustans supermarket :)