Vegan XO Sauce

Recipe 20 minPreparation Time 30 minCooking Time

Vegan XO Sauce

20 minPreparation Time 30 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

This sauce is a riff on the classic XO sauce, which I’ve loved since a trip to Hong Kong. It’s usually made with dried scallops and shrimp, but I use hijiki and dried shiitake mushrooms, which give the sauce a lot of body and flavor — as do the spices, garlic, shallot, ginger, and chile.

The Benefits

This XO sauce is free of added sweeteners, which makes it much better for you than most commercial sauces. The toasted spices, garlic, and ginger, make this a strong recipe for boosting immunity and mood. Nutmeg alone is a source of multiple vitamins and minerals (manganese, thiamine, folate, magnesium, copper). Besides freshening your breath, it may also reduce inflammation and support brain, bone, and digestive health. And mushrooms support immunity, and are a great source of B-vitamins, which support a healthy stress response.

Note: Use this sauce to sauté your favorite vegetables. I show you how in the video. 


Makes about 1 cup
  • 1 oz (30 g) dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp dried hijiki
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, toasted
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, toasted
  • 1 star anise, toasted
  • 1 whole nutmeg, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1-in (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 chile de árbol


  1. Step 1
    Soak the shiitake mushrooms and hijiki in separate bowls, covering them completely with at least 2 cups (480 ml) of water, for at least 30 minutes, or until they are both completely soft. Drain and squeeze both well, reserving 2 cups (480 ml) of the shiitake soaking liquid. Coarsely chop both and set aside.
  2. Step 2
    Meanwhile, grind your toasted spices.
  3. Step 3
    In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, shallot, and ginger, and sweat over low to medium heat until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Step 4
    Add the hijiki, mushrooms, tamari, chile de árbol, ground spices, and reserved shiitake soaking liquid. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half, about 20 minutes. Use immediately, or cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Adapted from Good for You: Bold Flavors with Benefits by Akhtar Nawab (Chronicle, 2020)