march 18, 2017
Most people grow up eating Chinese food (well, American Chinese food) in restaurants with their families or as takeout. Oh, those adorable white paper buckets! My family ate canned chow mein noodles with canned “chop suey” and that was some exotic stuff on the home front. My introduction to restaurant quality Chinese food came late in my college years, when my pals and I explored the DC suburbs in search of cheap eats.
Entree ordering allowed me to be adventurous (anyone for tripe stew?), but my appetizer was always the same : shrimp toast. Deliciously greasy, triangular shrimp toast, dipped in hot mustard tempered with duck sauce. Never met a version I didn’t like, and never tired of the dish.
As time passed, my palate expanded as I sampled other Asian cuisines and enjoyed fiery Thai dishes and crunchy Vietnamese salads. I forgot all about shrimp toast, until a recent food magazine article on fried shrimp dumplings got me reminiscing. A deep fryer lives in my basement, but the thought of filling it with oil gave me the dreads. How about baked shrimp toast? Yep, that’s what this recipe is all about. Let’s not call it a healthy version of shrimp toast – I happen to believe an occasional deep fried anything is good for the soul – but we can admit it’s much less labor intensive and very, very tasty. Pretty enough for company, too; these shrimp toasts can be prepared and frozen for when you want a little pre-dinner plate of nibbles.
Most recipes call for pulverizing the shrimp mix in a food processor, and you are welcome to do this if you like that texture, but I like some chunkiness and crunch from the water chestnuts and bits of shrimp – a good sharp chef’s knife is the tool for my mix. For the bread, you want relatively dense sandwich style slices; my preference is Udi’s white sandwich (GF) bread. Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread is also good. Sturdy, with few holes in the slices, and soft crusts that are easily cut from the center of the slice (I use those crusts for handy bread crumbs – see below ) – this is the best type of bread for shrimp toasts.
Sesame Shrimp Toasts
makes 16 toasts
8 ounces of cooked shrimp
one 8 ounce can whole water chestnuts, drained
3 small or 2 medium scallions, minced
¼ cup best quality mayonnaise
1 heaping teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
pinches of fine sea salt and ground white pepper
8 slices of dense white sandwich bread (Udi’s GF or Pepperidge Farm)
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon white sesame seed
for dipping (optional) : sweet Thai chili sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spritz large heavy sheet pan with cooking spray.
- Trim crusts from bread slices (process these in food processor and store in freezer for breadcrumbs – think meatballs, meatloaf, gratin toppings) and cut each slice in half diagonally, making 16 total triangles.
- Place triangles on prepared sheet pan and brush each one with melted butter.
- Chop shrimp and water chestnuts until fine bits with a few chunks remaining, then in small mixing bowl add scallion, mayonnaise, ginger, sesame oil and seasonings to shrimp mix to make a toast topping.
- Divide the shrimp paste among the toast triangles, using moistened hands to tamp down paste so it sticks to the buttered toast.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds atop toasts and bake for 25 minutes or until dark golden brown on bottom.
- Serve immediately, with sweet Thai chili sauce for dipping if desired, or, once cooled, store the toasts in the freezer for later (to heat, allow them to sit at room temperature on a baking sheet as oven heats to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes to recrisp).