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In the Kitchen With Ricky: Celebrate Lunar New Year with sesame shrimp toast

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 1, 2022

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

Lunar New Year is Feb. 1 this year, and I wanted to pay homage to this celebration with a traditional yet simple Hong Kongese-Cantonese dim sum dish.

When you think of dim sum, or small plates, it is common to picture dumplings and steamed and baked buns, but there are more than 1,000 traditional dishes.

Dim sum dishes also include soups, steamed and stuffed vegetables, roasted meats and desserts, and all of these are meant to be eaten alongside tea. Dim sum is enjoyed for breakfast and brunch, and the tea is just as important as the sharing of the small plates.

I learned of sesame shrimp toast while living in Southern California. A friend who grew up in Hong Kong couldn’t believe that I had never had dim sum, so, one afternoon after we finished work, he took me to a dim sum house in Monterey Park for the traditional experience.

One of the many small plates that graced our table that afternoon was a version of these sesame shrimp toasts. I was shocked at how simple the concept is, yet how flavorful they are.

The light, crisp golden fried bread with the crunchy sesame seeds and the juicy, flavor-packed shrimp took me by surprise, and I knew that I would be making a version of these at home.

These toasts make for an easy dinner with a side salad or an appetizer before a main entrée and can be served as hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail party and of course as a dim sum dish served family-style.

Variations of this dish have made their way to Japan and Southeast Asia, and in Japan there is a version made with pork.

Sesame shrimp toast

For the toast:

½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ jalapeno, seeded, if you don’t want it to be spicy

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon white sugar

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ cup cilantro stems

1 green onion, thinly sliced

5 pieces thick-sliced potato bread, crust removed and sliced diagonally into triangles

⅓ cup sesame seeds

Canola oil for frying

Garnishes:

Soy sauce

Sliced green onion, optional

Cilantro leaves, optional

Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat until preheated to about 350 degrees.

Combine all the toast ingredients, except for the bread and sesame seeds, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth.

If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop everything very finely and then mix with the beaten egg white and spices.

Evenly divide and spread the shrimp mixture over the trimmed and cut bread.

Sprinkle the sesame seeds heavily over the shrimp paste.

In the preheated oil, place 3 or 4 toasts sesame and shrimp side down. It is important not to overcrowd the pan.

Fry until the shrimp is cooked and the sesame seeds are browned, about 90 seconds, depending on the oil temperature.

Flip over, once cooked, and brown the bottom half of the toast for about 60 seconds, or until golden, as well.

Remove the fried toasts from the pan and place on a draining rack.

Sprinkle each toast lightly with a pinch of kosher salt while draining.

Continue to fry the toasts until they’re all fried.

Place the toasts on a serving plate and serve with soy sauce and a sprinkling of sliced scallions and cilantro leaves to garnish.

Yield: 10 pieces

Local award-winning chef and Rind and Wheat owner Ricky Webster can be reached at ricky@rindandwheat.com. Follow Webster on Instagram @rickycaker.

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