Lighten up this deep-fried Chinese/Tiki classic by turning it into a versatile dip or spread
The Shrimp Toast you find on dim sum carts and Tiki-themed platters is totally delicious — but also insanely caloric. The dish features a tasty shrimp mixture spread on very thin pieces of crustless dried white bread (usually cut into triangles). These morsels are then deep fried until crisp and irresistible.
Luscious. But not for the faint of heart. If only we could capture the deliciousness of Shrimp Toast without all that deep-fried fat . . . .
Hey, wait. We can! Just drop the “toast” (who’s going to miss white bread anyway?) and turn the shrimpy mixture (aka “the good stuff”) into a tasty dip/spread that’s party-ready and hostess-friendly.
Set out a bowl of it as dip, accompanied by crackers, crudités, whatever. Or stuff the shrimp spread onto cucumber boats, mushroom caps, or some other tasty base, and serve as canapés.
More good news: You can prepare Shrimp Toast Dip several hours ahead, since there’s no last-minute deep frying required. You’ll have more time to chat with guests, less mess to clean up. And your bathroom scale will still respect you in the morning.
Recipe: Shrimp Toast Dip
Shrimp Toast is a common item at Chinese-American restaurants. It’s also a universal favorite on the pupu platters served at Tiki- and Polynesian-themed restaurants. Since it’s Tiki month here on Kitchen Riffs (and all our food posts this month are platter-friendly), we just had to mention Shrimp Toast.
But we know that not everyone likes to deep fry. And for those who do, we’ve already posted about Crab Rangoon. So we decided to take Shrimp Toast in a different (and healthier) direction.
We dropped the white bread — i.e., the “toast”— which contributes almost nothing to the flavor of the dish (it’s just meant to hold the shrimp paste together while it’s fried, and serves as a delivery vehicle for conveying the morsels to your mouth). We also ditched the deep fryer, instead concentrating on the flavor of the shrimp mixture.
There are lots of recipes out there for Shrimp Toast — and about the only ingredient that’s common to all of them is shrimp (and, well, that white bread). Many recipes feature other ingredients that I specify here. And quite a few call for an ingredient I’ve decided to omit: water chestnuts. (But if the taste of water chestnuts is necessary to your enjoyment, by all means feel free to include some.)
One non-traditional ingredient I’ve included in my recipe is mayonnaise. I use mayo primarily because it provides great texture, helping turn shrimp paste into a dip. It also holds all the ingredients together.
I also include lime juice and zest as optional ingredients (because sometimes I like to use them and sometimes I don't). For the batch I made to photograph, I omitted them. But if you like lime, you’ll find that it adds some nice (if nontraditional) flavor.
Consider my ingredient quantities more as suggestions than rigid guidelines, BTW. You may want to use more or less of particular flavors.
This recipe makes somewhere over a cup of dip, and can easily be halved, doubled, tripled — you get the idea.
Preparation time is about 15 minutes, and you can make it several hours ahead. Leftovers keep for a day or two if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 4 scallions, chopped roughly (include green part; you may want to save some rounds from the green fronds for garnish)
- 2 cloves garlic
- piece of ginger root about 1½ inches long (when chopped, 2 tablespoons or a bit less)
- 8 ounces cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp (you can either cook your own, or use thawed frozen precooked)
- 2 - 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (light mayo works fine)
- ~1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (omit this if you don’t like spicy)
- ~1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 3 - 4 teaspoons lime juice (optional; to taste)
- ~2 teaspoons lime zest (optional; to taste)
- Wash and trim the scallions, and chop roughly. Place scallions in the bowl of a food processor (I generally use a mini-processor for a batch this size.)
- Peel the garlic and chop roughly, then add to the food processor. Peel the ginger and chop fairly well; add to the food processor.
- Whirl the food processor to chop everything finely. You may need to use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides a couple of times.
- Roughly chop the shrimp and add it to the food processor. Whirl until the mixture forms a rough paste. (If you don't want to use a food processor, chop everything as finely as you can.)
- Empty the contents of the food processor into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, Sriracha, soy sauce, and optional lime juice and zest. You may want to add a little less than full quantities at first, mix, then taste and adjust.
- Mix all ingredients together, then move the paste to an airtight container. Chill for at least an hour before serving. You may want to sprinkle a few thinly sliced green scallion rounds on top for garnish. See Notes for serving suggestions.
|Shrimp Toast Dip fills Cucumber "Boat" Canapés
- Homemade Mayonnaise is always welcome anywhere, although store bought works fine in this dish. Light mayo works OK too.
- I usually serve this dish as a dip with crackers and/or chips of some sort (tortilla chips work well). You can also use it as a spread on cocktail rye or another bread.
- Shrimp Toast Dip makes tasty canapés. I like to halve cucumbers lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and cut them into little triangular “boats.” I add maybe a teaspoon of dip to each boat and garnish with a few green scallion rounds and usually half a cherry tomato. BTW, you can peel the cukes or not — I often leave the peels on. Tip: I usually cut a thin slice of cuke off the bottom of each “boat” to form a flat surface (it prevents them from rocking if you’re passing a platter around).
- You can also use this recipe to make baked Shrimp Toast. Here’s how: Take a baguette, cut it in half lengthwise, and dry it in the oven for a few minutes (if you don’t dry it, the dip will ooze into the bread, making it soggy). Spread the baguette halves with dip, and heat in a 475-degree F oven until the bread is crisp — 10 minutes, maybe 15 tops. Slice and serve.
- You could also run the bread under the broiler until the dip is nice and browned.
- BTW, no need to restrict yourself to baguettes — any great tasting bread will work.
- If you’re in the mood to make traditional, deep-fried Shrimp Toast, you can use this dip as the topping (you may want to omit the mayo, though it’s up to you): Cut the crusts from very thin slices of white bread, cut the bread into triangles, and dry them out in a 200-degree F oven for 20 minutes or so. Heat oil in a deep fryer until it reaches 350 to 375 degrees F. (Read our Crab Rangoon post for more info and tips on deep frying.) Spread a thin layer of dip on one side of each bread triangle. When the oil reaches the proper temperature, place several pieces of the bread into it, shrimp side down. Fry until nicely done — about 2 minutes. Flip the bread, and fry the other side for 30 seconds or so. Remove, drain, and serve.
- Freshly fried Shrimp Toast is wonderful, but it rapidly becomes less appealing as it sits around. So for a party, making Shrimp Toast Dip is much easier; you can mix it ahead and let it sit on the serving table for a while without losing flavor. You won’t have the deep-fried crunch — but chips or crackers can provide that.
King of the Pupu Platter
“Dee-lish,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as she munched a chip laden with Shrimp Toast Dip. “Right up there with Crab Rangoon.”
“Yes,” I agreed, stuffing a dipped chip into my maw. “In fact, if Crab Rangoon is Queen of the Pupu Platter, Shrimp Toast must be King. It’s been on every platter I’ve ever seen.”
“Though I guess serving it as a dip might not be traditional?” she asked.
“Well, Tiki is all about stretching the rules,” I said. “The flavor of this Shrimp Toast Dip is sensational, which is all that matters to me.”
“Guess the dip bowl isn’t regulation either, huh?”
“No, but restaurants just put appetizers on a platter because they’re easy to serve that way,” I said between bites.
“Did I just hear you pooh-pooh the platter?” asked Mrs K R.
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