If you’re not familiar with Shrimp Toast (also sometimes called “prawn toast”), you are in for a treat! This dish can often be found in both American Chinese restaurants as well as on Cantonese dim sum menus and more. While there seem to be a number of variations on preparation and presentation, this is the one we’re most familiar with. The recipe is adapted from Kenji Lopez, a genius in his own right. You can grab his full recipe here, which interestingly calls for the use of ramps.
What is shrimp toast? Imagine this: you take a slice of white bread, cut off the crusts (save them for breadcrumbs), the slice the bread into 4 triangles. Spread a generous layer of finely chopped, uncooked shrimp mixed with scallions, ginger, soy sauce, cilantro, and garlic, then pan fry until golden and crispy on both sides. A perfect appetizer!
Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds!
In addition to good ol’ white bread, you’ll need the following:
- Peeled, deveined shrimp: You can use any size of raw, peeled, deveined shrimp for this recipe.
- An egg white: To help bind the shrimp mixture together.
- Soy sauce: Used to season the shrimp and add an umami taste.
- Sesame oil: Adds a nutty flavor, that is complemented by toasted sesame seeds.
- Shaoxing wine: A chinese cooking wine; can be substituted with dry sherry or Mirin
- Ginger paste: Alternatively, you can use some freshly grated ginger.
- Scallions: The addition of lots of thinly sliced green onion is a large component of the overall flavor profile in this shrimp toast recipe.
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro brightens up the flavors in this dish.
- Garlic: Just a single clove is all you need.
- Potato starch or Cornstarch: The potato starch (or cornstarch) helps to thicken the shrimp mixture so it holds its shape while cooking.
- Sesame seeds: Optional, but these add not only a wonderful, nutty flavor, but a delightful crunch to the shrimp toast, as well.
- Kosher salt: Sprinkle each cooked shrimp toast with a pinch of Kosher salt when it’s hot out of the pan (this is when the salt adheres easily to the food).
Kenji recommends frying in a Dutch oven or a wok, but we used a standard stainless steel skillet and that worked great. Use what you’ve got!
How To Make Shrimp Toast
- Make the ground shrimp mixture. You can finely chop all ingredients by hand ten combine in a bowl or (our preferred method), place it all in the bowl of a food processor and pulse.
- Cut the white bread into triangles. Remove the crusts first, then slice each piece of bread diagonally into 4 triangles.
- Spread the shrimp mixture on top. Use a knife or a spatula to spread a thin layer of the shrimp mixture on top, making sure it’s not quite as thick as the bread itself.
- Heat the oil. We like to use peanut oil (as is often used in Chinese cooking) or grapeseed oil, which has a higher smoke point than peanut. You’ll need about ½” of oil. Heat it up to about 325F, then it’s time to fry!
- Fry the shrimp toast. These fry up pretty quickly, so don’t walk away. Usually about 2 minutes on the first side (shrimp-side down) and about 1 minute once you flip on the second side; just until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack to drain on paper towels, then sprinkle with a pinch of Kosher salt. Cool slightly, then dig in!
- Fry in a light, neutral oil, such as grapeseed, avocado, vegetable, or canola oil. These have a higher smoke point and are less likely to burn.
- Use white sandwich bread: This is not the time to reach for your favorite whole grain bread or baguette. Stick to white bread with the crusts removed.
- Keep the heat to medium when frying. Don’t be tempted to creep up to medium-high heat or you risk burning the shrimp toast.
- Work in batches! You can fry up about 4-6 pieces of shrimp toast at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Repeat with remaining toasts until all are pan fried.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter, as the uncooked shrimp are getting ground in a food processor. We recommend peeled and deveined shrimp, regardless of size, to cut back on overall prep time.
Absolutely! To freeze before frying: Assemble the shrimp toast, then freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan until solid, about 2-3 hours, then transfer to a freezer-safe storage container. Will keep for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, deep fry from frozen at a temp of about 325-350F instead of shallow pan frying.
Freeze after frying. Allow to cool completely on a paper towel lined wire rack, then freeze in a single layer until solid, about 2-3 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe storage container. Will keep for up to 3 months. To reheat, place in an oven preheated to 350F and heat through until warm and crispy, about 10-12 minutes.
I get it — this is a novelty item for many households. We keep it on hand for a variety of recipes (it’s a Chinese cooking wine), but if you don’t have it, simply omit from the recipe or replace with dry Sherry or mirin.
Can shrimp toast be made ahead?
Yes! To make ahead: You can prepare shrimp toast up to the point that they’re ready to fry, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 day.
Truly this is one of our favorite bite-size appetizers when we get Chinese takeout. You will be floored by how easy these are to make at home (the prep time is so minimal), and how quickly they can be on the table.
Plus, would you just look at the crispy shrimp topping!! The sesame seeds are not only beautiful, but they provide the best texture.
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Shrimp Toast Recipe
- 1/2 lb large raw shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp ginger paste or freshly grated ginger
- 4 scallions white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp Shaoxing wine Dry Sherry or Mirin
- 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
- 6 slices white sandwich bread crusts removed, each piece cut into 4 triangles
- ½ cup sesame seeds white, black, or a combination mixed together
- 1 ½ cups peanut oil or other light, neutral oil — you'll need enough to coat a skillet with about ½" oil
- Kosher salt
- Create the shrimp mixture. Combine ½ lb shrimp, 1 egg white, 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp ginger paste, 4 sliced scallions, 2 tsp potato starch (or cornstarch), ¼ cup cilantro, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp Shaoxing wine, and 1 thinly sliced garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until very finely chopped and well mixed, scraping down the sides, as needed. Transfer to a bowl.
- Prepare the shrimp toasts. Use a knife to spread a thin layer of the shrimp mixture on top of each slice of bread, about ⅛-¼" thick. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (or press into a bowl of sesame seeds, for a thicker top layer).
- Heat the oil. Place enough neutral oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat to go up about ½". Heat until a temperature of 325F is reached.
- Fry the shrimp toast. When hot, place the shrimp toast shrimp-side down, about 4 or 5 toasts at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan, then cook until golden brown about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the second. Be careful when flipping as the oil will splatter.
- Drain, then serve. Transfer to a wire cooling rack lined with paper towels, then sprinkle immediately with a pinch of Kosher salt. Allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then serve immediately!
- Nutrition facts include all of the oil used to fry the shrimp toasts, and therefore should likely be lower overall.
- Make ahead: You can prepare shrimp toast up to the point that they’re ready to fry, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 day.
- Freeze before frying: Assemble the shrimp toast, then freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan until solid, about 2-3 hours, then transfer to a freezer-safe storage container. Will keep for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, deep fry from frozen at a temp of about 325-350F instead of shallow pan frying.
- Freeze after frying. Allow to cool completely on a paper towel lined wire rack, then freeze in a single layer until solid, about 2-3 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe storage container. Will keep for up to 3 months. To reheat, place in an oven preheated to 350F and heat through until warm and crispy, about 10-12 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Kenji Lopez at Serious Eats.