Shrimp Toast

by Jill Chen on April 19, 2012

in All Recipes, Appetizers, Garden, Seafood

We’re quickly approaching a favorite time of year:   farmers market season.  But more and more, eating local means grabbing vegetables and herbs sprouting just outside our own kitchen windows.   Jill shares with us her adventure raising prawns, which makes me wonder, what are other people growing in their backyards and is it enough to build a fresh appetizer  for a crowd?  - Maggie

Shrimp toast is a classic Chinese appetizer where the shrimp is often chopped into a paste and spread on top of the bread; but this version with the tails looks much prettier!

Although the shrimp used in this deep-fried dish didn’t come from my own backyard, I wish they had — and recently I even took steps to grow my own plump prawns! Last summer I ordered more than 1,000 little baby Malaysian Freshwater Prawns I had hoped to grow into hearty fare for our dinner table.

I figured, we eat a lot of shrimp in this household, why not chow on fresh food from our own backyard. I’m able to grow vegetables in my aquaponics grow beds using just a tenth of the water as conventional farming and the fish or prawns live in tanks below the surface.  The used water is pumped up and converted by beneficial bacteria into nutrients to feed the plants and clean water is re-circulated back to the fish.

Sadly, out of 1,100 prawns, just one remains:   a lonely female who bears eggs about once a month but has no mate. Prawns are very territorial and cannibalistic. More than half were killed by human error (my error, sadly); and each time one molted their protective shell, it was eaten by the others.

Growing prawns didn’t quite pan out as I had hoped.   Regardless, these shrimp toast are a hit. To make this prettier, tails-on version, start by peeling the shrimp but leaving the tails intact.

Butterfly all your shrimp by slicing down the back until it’s almost cut through. You will want them to lay flat on the bread.

In a bowl, beat one egg with  a scant half teaspoon of salt. Add the shrimp and mix gently until all the shrimp is covered in egg.

Trim the crust off the bread, and cut in half.

Beat two eggs and dip in your bread, just lightly kissing the surface. You don’t want the bread to be too soggy! With the skin side facing up, press the shrimp firmly on the egg-soaked surface.

Deep fry in a small saucepan with an inch of canola or vegetable oil. The oil must be hot; otherwise the bread will soak up the oil like a sponge. Test with a piece of bread, it should bubble up immediately.

Carefully deep fry with shrimp side up. Slightly submerge the toast by holding it down beneath the oil’s surface with a pair of tongs. This will help the shrimp adhere to the bread. When the bottom is a nice golden brown, flip over and brown the top. Work in small batches, three or four at a time. It cooks really fast, so have a plate with paper towel ready to blot the excess oil from the toasts.

Chop up and sprinkle some fresh herbs over toast; here, I have cilantro and chives grown from seed this winter. Amazing what you can grow with regular daylight white fluorescent lights.

Shrimp Toast

Makes approximately 20-30 pieces, depending on number of shrimp.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of raw extra large shrimp, deveined
  • scant 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg, plus 2 eggs for dipping bread
  • 1 loaf, white sandwich bread (I used Wonder sandwich thins)
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • Fresh cilantro and chives for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Peel shrimp leaving on the tails, rinse in cold water and squeeze out excess liquid.  Butterfly the shrimp and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, beat one egg with a half teaspoon of salt. Add the shrimp and toss gently, making sure all is coated with egg.
  3. Trim crust off bread, and cut into halves (count how how many shrimps you have and do the math).
  4. Dip only one surface of the bread, skimming very lightly so there is only a thin layer of egg. Gently press shrimp on top of the bread (egg side so it sticks), making sure that the skin side of shrimp is on top. Repeat until they are all assembled.
  5. In a small sauce pan, add about an inch of canola or vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Test that the oil is hot by adding a piece of bread. It should bubble immediately. Fry, working in small batches, shrimp side up, pressing down slightly with your tongs so they cook and stick together. Flip over when the bottoms are golden brown and brown the other side. Pull them out and place on paper towel lined plate to blot extra oil.
  6. Chop fresh chives and cilantro and sprinkle over top.  The Shrimp Toast are good plain, or with your favorite dipping sauce.

 

All photos styled and shot by Jill Chen.  

Eat Boutique is an online magazine + market for food enthusiasts to celebrate the best pure, local + comforting handmade foods. We call it: food that hugs you back.  Looking for the perfect gift? Eat Boutique sells gift boxes filled with handmade sweet and savory treats.  Send a gift box of handmade food today.

 

Jill Chen

Jill Chen, photographer, graphic designer, and urban farmer resides in Toronto, Canada with her chickens and mini pet pig named Henry. After running a design studio for twenty years, Jill gave it all up for a simpler way of living. When she's not making food or photographing food, she's growing food with the goal of being self-sustaining with year-round organic produce, despite the harsh Canadian winter. Charcuterie, wine-making, mushroom cultivation, aquaponics and shrimp farming are just a few of the projects on her plate right now. You can follow Jill's blog, Freestyle Farm, for beautiful photos that will inspire you to cook or grow something.

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  • http://theindolentcook.blogspot.com.au/ leaf (the indolent cook)

    Too bad your prawn venture flopped. :(  I used to have little freshwater prawns in my aquarium back in Malaysia, they survived for a long time but never grew big, so probably a different species.
    At least you still had delicious shrimp toast! :)

    • Jill@FreestyleFarm

      Maybe a different species….did they eat each other? These have big blue claws and very territorial!

  • Chez Us – Denise

    Jill, I was rooting for those shrimps every day.  Was so impressed that you were attempting that project.  I have these romantic visions of living on some land in southern France, someday, herding some little goats, making cheese, growing a garden … would be lovely.  In the meantime, I am going to have to make these for our next dinner party.  They sound amazing!!

  • http://www.freestylefarm.ca/ Jill@FreestyleFarm

    Oh Denise, I want goats too! I was going to attempt again this year, but our government is making it harder to bring them in. I will have to try trout perhaps…

    • http://www.freestylefarm.ca/ Jill@FreestyleFarm

      Ha! just read my comment, and sounds like it’s hard to bring in goats! Prawns, I meant prawns! (tho it probably wouldn’t be easy to bring goats in either!)

  • http://dequelleplaneteestu.com/ Meg

    This looks absolutely divine!!

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