Citrus Salad with XO Sauce

Recipe 15 minPreparation Time 1 hour for the XO sauceCooking Time
Citrus Salad with XO Sauce

Citrus Salad with XO Sauce

15 minPreparation Time 1 hour for the XO sauce Cooking Time

About this Recipe

This vibrant citrus salad from chef Justin Lee of vegan Chinese restaurant Fat Choy in New York brings the color, cheer, and vitamin C. An easy-to-make vegan XO sauce dresses the juicy citrus and Castelvetrano olives — the combination makes for a savory salad to serve as a mood-boosting snack, appetizer, or alongside other vegetable dishes for a complete meal.

The Benefits

Citrus such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruit are reported to help our mood, relieving anxiety, fatigue, and depression. (Their scent is known to be calming too.) And their vitamin C not only boosts your immune system but assists the body with the absorption of iron. There could be a reason the orange is a symbol of longevity in some cultures: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties might protect against cell damage, and studies show that the phytochemicals in citrus can help lower cholesterol levels and promote lung health.


Serves 4

XO Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp (27 g) minced ginger
  • 2 Tbsp (12 g) minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp (14 g) thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh citrus zest
  • 1 whole dried tianjin chile or chile de arbol (or chile flakes to taste)
  • 1 tsp smoked pimenton
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp monosodium glutamate
  • 1/3 tsp sugar
  • Olive oil to cover

Citrus Salad

  • 2 grapefruits
  • 4 oranges
  • 3 or 4 Castelvetrano olives, pitted
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Long pepper, grated with a rasp-style grater, for garnish (optional)


  1. Step 1
    Make the XO sauce: To a saucepan add the ginger, garlic, scallions, citrus zest, chile, smoked pimenton, salt, monosodium glutamate, and sugar. Add just enough olive oil to cover and heat over low heat until the ginger, garlic, and scallions are dehydrated and crispy, about 1 hour.
  2. Step 2
    Prepare the salad: Cut the peel and pith away from the fruit of the citrus. Slice the fruit into rounds (or cut the citrus however you'd like). Cut or tear the Castelvetrano olives into bite-size pieces. Cut the scallions into thin slices on the bias.
  3. Step 3
    Arrange the citrus and olives on each of four plates and dress with lemon juice and XO sauce. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and grated long pepper, and extra olive oil if you're feeling fancy. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Substitutions: Use any citrus you like — blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, and pomelo would be equally delicious. Even the amount of citrus and olives you use is flexible. For the XO sauce, if you don’t have or are avoiding monosodium glutamate, substitute 1 tsp nutritional yeast.

Try It With: Serve this with other salads and vegetables for a meal; try crudités with Kalamata-Feta Spread or Endive with Cucumbers, Onions & Crouton Crumbs. Or add a protein of your choice.

Zero Waste: Save any extra XO sauce for tofu. It’s delicious with salmon, if you eat fish

Justin Lee is chef-owner of Fat Choy in New York

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Justin Lee

Justin Lee

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