Sesame shrimp toast is a Chinese takeout favorite that's easy to recreate at home. It's crisp, packed with flavor and makes an addictively good appetizer or snack.
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I don't know about anyone else, but when I used to go out for Chinese food with friends, one of the best bits was sharing a bunch of appetizers. The exact combination varies, but you'll nearly always find some dumplings, spring rolls and these little toasts, all of which are delicious.
While dumplings and spring rolls are a little more fiddly to make at home, these are super easy. And just as delicious as anything you'd buy.
These little toasts apparently originate in Hong Kong but they are probably more popular in Cantonese restaurants around the world, sometimes as part of dim sum.
The sesame version in particular is more of a Western creation, but whether more fusion or not, it's certainly worth treating yourself to now and then.
Prawn or shrimp?
Technically, prawns and shrimp are slightly different animals and as if I remember rightly, neither US nor UK English uses the terms completely correctly. The US tend to call everything shrimp, while in the UK, most things are prawns and only a very small ones are shrimp.
Without getting into the debate, though, for this you don't need to splash out on large shrimp (US) or prawns (UK) - just the little ones you find in the supermarket are fine. After all, you are simply going to blend them up.
What does matter, though, is that they are deveined, clean and have no shell on them. And also uncooked - pre-cooked will be too dry to blend properly.
You want to be able to taste the shrimp/prawns here, but a few slight additions help to make this extra tasty. A little ginger, garlic, soy and sugar (to balance out the soy) all add a little something. Then you also add some egg white to help make a nice smooth paste.
You don't have to, but a little scallion also helps add a little additional flavor and color. You could also add a little chopped cilantro/coriander if you like. Then don't forget the sesame seeds on top for a little extra crunch and flavor.
Tips for making shrimp toast
As I say, this is incredibly easy to make but it's worth keeping a couple things in mind. First, this is one time when white bread is best. Save the wholewheat for something else, plain is good here. You can cut the crusts off if you prefer, but to me it's a little bit of a waste. Plus, the crust helps them keep their shape a little better.
Be relatively generous with the shrimp mixture - you want a proper layer, not just a thin spread like jam. Then, flatten it out to help it cook evenly.
Use enough oil in the skillet. Much as I usually prefer to use less oil, here you need to make sure the topping sits in oil (you'll see it bubbles up a little at the side as it cooks) or else the sesame seeds burn and/or the shrimp mixture doesn't cook properly. Some people deep fry these, but I prefer just shallow for reasons you'll see in a second.
Cook the shrimp side first to help you get the shrimp surface flat against the skillet to cook evenly. It also helps the bread side be as crisp as possible when you eat them. Plus, don't top up the oil before you cook the second side as the bread can be a bit of a sponge with the oil.
Drain on kitchen paper before serving - this helps absorb some of that oil the bread soaked up.
These are best enjoyed freshly cooked while the bread is still crisp. Once cold, the bread will loose its crispness and will likely taste greasy. If you want to reheat any that are leftover, I'd suggest you do so in a dry skillet over a medium-low heat, just a little on each side.
These sesame shrimp toast make a great appetizer as part of a Chinese meal but are also great on their own as a snack or for a party. It's so easy to make and a great crowd-pleaser. Try it yourself, and you'll soon see what I mean.
Try these other favorite Chinese recipes:
- Easy wonton soup
- Chinese spare ribs (slow cooker)
- Sang choy bao (Chinese lettuce wraps)
- Chinese oven steamed fish
- Plus get more appetizer recipes and Chinese recipes in the archives.
Sesame shrimp toast (prawn toast)
- ½ lb raw shrimp 240g prawns (shelled and deveined weight)
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp garlic finely grated
- 1 tsp ginger finely grated
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 spring onions scallions, optional
- 5 slices white bread (or 6, if needed)
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds approx, for sprinkling
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil or canola, for frying, approx
- Place the shrimp, egg white, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sugar in a food processor and pulse to form a relatively smooth paste. Finely slice the spring onion and add to the mixture then pulse to combine.
- Cut each of the slices of bread into quarters, diagonally so that you get four triangles from each slice. Take roughly a teaspoonful of the mixture and spread it on one of the pieces of the bread, spreading flat and as far to the edges as you can. Repeat with the rest of the bread and the shrimp/prawn mixture.
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the shrimp side of the pieces of bread and gently press the seeds in to the mixture so they hold but stay on the top. I like to put all the pieces right next to each other so you can sprinkle on all at once. (Alternatively, you can add them by dipping in a dish with sesame seeds but this does mean you will need extra and have to discard any leftover)
- Heat some of the oil in a skillet/frying pan over a medium heat so that you have a thin layer over the pan (it's OK if your pan shape means it drifts to the side if you can put the pieces in so they sit in the oil).
- Fry the pieces of bread in batches, shrimp side down first. Cook for around 3-4 minutes until the sesame seeds are just starting to brown and you can see the shrimp/prawn has changed color and is cooked.
- Turn the bread and cook around another 2-3 minutes to crisp gently on the underside. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
- Repeat with the next batch or batches as needed then serve while still warm.
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