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Shrimp Toast

These are delightful with drinks before dinner, although I often make a meal of them, plus one or two other appetizers, with soup or green tea. Shrimp toast are also superb as part of a main course. Be sure to dry out the bread sufficiently before frying, so that very little oil will be absorbed. If you are in a hurry and don't have the time to dry them overnight, you can place slices in a 250 degree F. oven for 10 minutes or so. You may substitute regular white bread and cut it into a variety of shapes--triangles, rounds, etc.--but the taste and texture of the toasts will not be quite the same. Shrimp toast are best when deep-fried and served at once. You may prepare them several hours ahead and then deep-fry just before serving. It's fun to create different designs with the sesame-seed toppings, they're not only dramatic looking, they taste terrific, too! Don't leave out the coriander ones, though. To coriander lovers, they're absolutely wonderful!

1 large whole green onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large egg
1 teaspoon medium-dry sherry
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
White sesame seeds for garnish
Black sesame seeds for garnish
Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
2 to 3 French baguettes, about 2 inches in diameter (to yield about 40 slices) sliced about 1/4-inch thick, and allowed to dry out overnight
Canola oil for deep-frying


Chop green onion and ginger in food processor. Add shrimp; process to a paste. Add egg, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Combine.

Place sesame seeds on separate plates. Choose the largest and freshest coriander leaves--3 to a sprig is prettiest--and set aside.

Spread each piece of bread with about 1 tablespoon of shrimp paste, mounding slightly in center. Press it down gently so that it doesn't fall off bread when frying.

Garnish the bread slices using the following methods: lightly dip the top of a few slices in a little of the black sesame seeds to cover the center, then dip edges in white sesame seeds to finish, or vice versa. Now dip some of the slices completely  in white seeds and a few completely in black. Or make even halves of black and white. another variation, without seeds, is to place a sprig of coriander in the center of some slices. The finished slices may be done ahead to this point loosely covered, and refrigerated for several hours before frying. Bring back to room temperature before frying.

Heat wok on high heat. Add 2 cups oil; heat to 350F. Deep-fry a few toasts at a time, shrimp side down, for 30 seconds or until golden brown. Turn over; fry for another 30 seconds or until lightly browned. Do not overcook. Remove with tongs or slotted strainer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve at once.

Makes about 40 shrimp toast


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