Our collection of classic Chinese delivery dishes now includes shrimp toast. White sandwich bread is spread with a ground shrimp mixture seasoned with scallions, cilantro, and ginger, then pan-fried until golden.
It’s hard for me to think of a more blatant example of a mashup of Chinese and American culinary traditions than this crispy, flavorful appetizer.
A Way of Finding Things Out: Lessons From Grandpa
Before working on this recipe, I had never eaten shrimp toast (gasp!). It was an adventure in discovery, and my father was a great resource.
It has been told that when his grandfather (my grandfather) owned a Chinese takeout joint, his shrimp toast recipe became famous.
What’s the catch?
My grandfather would make a 70:30 fat-to-meat ratio by adding fatty pork to the shrimp. To season the shrimp toast without altering the consistency of the shrimp mixture, he would add just a touch of this ingredient.
About an ounce of pork fat was used in this dish. Leave it out if it doesn’t sit well with you; trust your instincts!
Explaining Why I Don’t Trim My Crusts
When making shrimp toast, many chefs remove the bread’s crusts, but I find this unnecessary and prefer to eat them. Bread would be better used elsewhere. The crust also works wonderfully as a lip to seal in the filling.
However, if you prefer crustless sandwiches, you can remove the crusts before spreading them on the shrimp mixture and then pulse the bread into breadcrumbs in a food processor. You can then pop them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them in meatballs, meatloaf, or any other recipe that calls for breadcrumbs.
These shrimp toasts are perfect as a pre-dinner snack or a cocktail hour appetizer—definitely New Year’s Eve party appetizer material. This recipe has 16 toasty little triangles; if you’re having a bigger party, multiply the ingredients by two or three.
- 1 oz. of pork fat
- ½ lb. of shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
- 2 scallions (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp. of ginger (grated)
- 1/4 tsp. of sesame oil
- ½ tsp. of sugar
- ½ tsp. of salt
- 2 tsp. of cornstarch
- 1 egg white
- 4 slices of white sandwich bread
- 2 tbsp. of toasted sesame seeds
- Vegetable oil for frying
- When using pork fat the traditional way, put it in a food processor and process it until it is smooth. Then add the egg white, cornstarch, sugar, salt, ginger, sesame oil, and shrimp. Turn on the processor and wait for the smoothing effect.
- Spread the filling evenly across 4 pieces of bread, dividing it in half. Sesame seeds should be sprinkled on top and gently pressed into the shrimp filling. Make little triangles by cutting each slice in half diagonally.
- The oil should be heated to the shimmering point in a large, nonstick, or cast-iron skillet. Fry the triangles in the skillet, shrimp-side down first, until golden––about 2-3 minutes.
- Fry for another minute or so on the other side after carefully flipping with a spatula. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Quickly prepare and serve!