Crispy Shrimp Toast

published Jan 23, 2022
Shrimp Toast Recipe

This Chinese takeout favorite is easy and quick to make.

Serves7 to 10

Makes20 toasts

Prep20 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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small round pieces of toast with shrimp topping, topped with sesame seeds and shredded green onions
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Chinese American food was so integral to my life as a half-Asian kid. “Authentic” Asian food wasn’t the most accessible thing in ’90s suburbia, but the Chinese American classics at our favorite local Chinese restaurant in the grocery store strip mall were more than just a crowd-pleasing go-to for us. The soy sauced-food was a comfort to my Hawaii-born Japanese father’s palate, and chicken chow mein (hold the scallions and bean sprouts) was an introduction to exploring flavors for my mother’s inexperienced taste buds. Sliding our family of six into the corner booth after church every Sunday is a core memory for everyone in my family. 

Shrimp toast is one of those classic dishes so often seen on Chinese American restaurant menus. They are little bites featured on the appetizer menu, or what my father always eagerly called “pupus.” Listening to him talk about pupus always made me giggle, both because of the word itself and because of the look of silly anticipation my father would express when he said it. And that’s exactly what these little toasts are — the perfect little bite to nibble on as you anticipate more to come.

What Is Shrimp Toast Made Of?

Shrimp toast is made up of a mixture of puréed shrimp and aromatics spread onto bite-sized toasts before being fried. Although they’re often deep-fried, a shallow pan-fry works great without needing to commit to vats of oil. 

What Size Shrimp Should I Use?

Because the shrimp is getting puréed, the size doesn’t matter as much as it would with other preparations. Smaller shrimp tend to be more cost-effective, so opting for something like a 40 to 50 count per pound makes sense for a recipe like this.

What Kind of Bread Do I Use for Shrimp Toast?

I tested a wide variety of white bread for these toasts — ranging from the most basic sandwich slice to artisanal baguette. Sandwich bread tends to be standard for this recipe, but its sponge-like structure soaked up a lot of oil and didn’t provide much texture. My favorite was a basic grocery-store baguette. The small slices and not-too-tough crust make it easy to spread lots of the shrimp topping across each slice of bread. The structure of the bread gets nice and crunchy without tearing up your mouth with each bite.

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

What Do I Serve with Shrimp Toast?

Shrimp toast can be served as an appetizer before a meal or alone as a happy-hour nibble, but they’re also great served alongside a variety of other appetizers for a party. You can stick to classic Chinese American favorites, or go full pupus and pull inspiration from Hawaii’s beloved mix-and-match food culture.

Shrimp Toast Recipe

This Chinese takeout favorite is easy and quick to make.

Prep time 20 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 20 toasts

Serves 7 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces

    uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 3

    medium scallions, plus more for garnish

  • 1 (1-inch) piece

    ginger

  • 1

    large egg white

  • 1 tablespoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons

    soy sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground white pepper

  • 1/2

    baguette

  • 2 tablespoons

    white or black sesame seeds, or a combination

  • 1/2 cup

    neutral oil for deep frying, such as canola or vegetable

  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Peel and devein 8 ounces shrimp if needed. Dry the shrimp with paper towels and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until coarsely chopped, about 5 (1-second) pulses.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the food processor as it is completed: Coarsely chop 3 medium scallions. Peel 1-inch piece fresh ginger, then grate or finely chop until you have 2 teaspoons.

  3. Add 1 large egg white, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Process until mostly smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, about 10 seconds.

  4. Slice 1/2 baguette crosswise into about 20 (1/4-inch) slices. Use a small offset spatula to spread the shrimp mixture on each slice, about 1 rounded tablespoon per slice. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and lightly press the sesame seeds into the shrimp mixture with your fingers.

  5. Heat 1/2 cup neutral cooking oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until 365°F. Add half the toasts shrimp-side down. Cook until the shrimp turns golden-brown, moving the toasts around the pan as needed so they brown evenly, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip the toasts and cook until the bread is golden-brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel lined-plate and sprinkle with kosher salt. Repeat cooking the remaining toasts. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions if desired and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The shrimp mixture can be made a few hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Shrimp toast is best when enjoyed immediately after cooking.