1 Fresno red or green chili or jalapeño pepper, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Heat up the canola oil in a medium pan over high heat. Sear and roast the fennel quarters until all sides are golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pat the sole fillets dry, rub each fillet with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold 4 pieces of 15 x 10–inch parchment paper into thirds the long way. Place 1 sole fillet in the middle with 1 quarter of the roasted fennel and 1 wood ear mushroom next to it. Spread ½ tablespoon of XO sauce on the sole fillet and place 1 teaspoon of butter next to it.
Pick up the 2 sides along the creases to form a “roof” over the fish, then fold the “roof” down into ½-inch-thick folds. Fold them 3 to 4 times, until the “roof” is lying almost flat. Pick up 1 open side of the envelope and fold with ½-inch creases to close. Pour 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine into each envelope from the other open end, then close it by folding it with ½-inch creases. Repeat to wrap all portions.
Place the envelopes on a large rimmed baking sheet, and roast them in the middle rack of the oven for 8 minutes. Be careful; the steam inside the packets will expand the envelopes. Slit the tops with a knife and gently open them to serve.
XO Chili Sauce
Heat up the canola oil in a cast-iron skillet or a wok over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the ginger to the pan and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next add the shallots and sauté until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
After all the moisture has evaporated, add the ham, dry shrimp, Fresno pepper and chili flakes at the end, sauté for 3 more minutes and season with the salt.
Place the sauce into a blender, and pulse it for a couple of seconds. The sauce should have a little texture and not be completely smooth. After the sauce is blended, finish with the orange zest. This is an oil-based sauce, and when made properly, all the ingredients are dehydrated and it can be kept in the refrigerator for a really long time.