A Hamburger Today
Tiki Week: Shrimp Toast
It's luaus and pink drinks with umbrellas. It's leis and beach bums. It's all that fried "Polynesian"/Chinese/Japanese American food you love to hate. Welcome to Tiki Week. This week, we'll be featuring a favorite Tiki-bar appetizer every day of the week.
Of all the Tiki Week dishes, shrimp toast was probably my favorite growing up, and not because I loved shrimp. In normal Tiki style, the main ingredient in this dish is not really the point. The shrimp, flavored with scallions, garlic, sesame, and soy, ends up more as a vehicle for ensuring that all the aromatics are stuck nicely to the "toast." And I put that in quotes, because it's not often that the word "toast" refers to "deep fried bread."
And that's what shrimp toast is all bout: crispy, golden brown, slices of fried bread with a vaguely shrimpy but very allium-heavy coating.
There's nothing all that special about the version I made here, unless you count replacing the scallions with ramps (I count that as special), and—oh yeah—using Martin's potato bread as the base for the toast.
As if we aren't big enough fans of the golden-hued, slightly sweet, golden yellow bread to begin with, deep-frying them when spread with seasoned shrimp paste if anything only makes them better.
If you feel like gussying them up a bit like I did here, you can dip'em in toasted sesame seeds before you fry them. It makes them prettier, and marginally tastier (though again, it's the aromatics and toast that really make this dish).
My food processor went kaput right before I started making this dish (you gave me a wonderful 10 years of loyal use Cuisinart—hopefully we can get you repaired), so I ended up having to chop the shrimp by hand.
It turned out to be a not-so-bad idea. The shrimp ended up with a much more uneven texture, so that while the paste still held together just fine, I also got a few crunchy bites of juicy, chunky shrimp every now and then. I suggest you try it.