A vegan adaptation of the Hong Kong XO sauce. Dried shiitake mushrooms, nori, dashi, caramelised shallots, toasted cumin, and smoked paprika are the keys to getting the moreish, umami taste of the seafood-ham sauce.
Prepare shiitake kombu dashi the night before. In a large bowl, combine the dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, and water. Leave to soak overnight at room temperature.
Process the dried chillies and nori. In a food processor or mini-prep, place the seeded dried chillies and pulse until they resemble coarse flakes. Transfer the chillies into a small bowl. Repeat the same with the nori; transfer the nori flakes into a separate bowl.
Process the rehydrated shiitake. The next day, drain the mushrooms and kombu. Set aside the kombu for another use. Reserve the dashi. Squeeze out the excess water from the mushrooms, discard the stems, and thinly slice the caps. In a food processor or mini-prep, place the sliced mushrooms and pulse until minced; do not overblend as you want it to retain some texture.
Saute the shallot and garlic. In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until both are just golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Saute the mushrooms and chillies. Increase the heat to medium-high and saute the mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add the chilies and saute for another 2 minutes.
Add the seasonings. Add the tamari, molasses, cumin, smoked paprika and nori. Stir well.
Simmer the mixture in dashi. Add about 3/4-1 cup of reserved dashi and simmer on medium-low heat until the liquid is almost gone, 4-5 minutes. If you like extra oomph to your XO relish, add the toasted sesame oil.
Store XO relish. Remove the skillet from heat. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer the XO relish into a glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.