Crispy Shrimp Toast: Reviving a Timeless Chinese-American Takeout Treasure

July 18, 2023

The latest introduction to our repertoire of nostalgic Chinese takeout dishes is crispy shrimp toast. This mouth-watering appetizer features a flavorful mix of ground shrimp, enlivened with an assortment of scallions, cilantro, and ginger, lavished on slices of basic white bread, and then expertly pan-fried to reach the desired crispiness.

This crunchy, savory hors d’oeuvre exemplifies a striking blend of Chinese and American culinary traditions.

A Journey of Exploration & Wisdom from Grandpa

Before I embarked on crafting this recipe, I confess I hadn’t sampled shrimp toast (shocking, right?). Thus, my journey was one of exploration, and I was fortunate to receive plenty of advice from my father.

It turns out, my grandfather, who managed a Chinese takeout restaurant, had a renowned shrimp toast recipe.

The secret ingredient?

Pork fat, unsurprisingly.

My grandpa would mingle fatty pork into the shrimp blend—a 70/30 fat to meat ratio. It was added in moderation to enhance the shrimp toast’s flavor, but not so much that it altered the shrimp mix’s texture.

In this recipe, I included about an ounce of pork fat. Feel free to skip it if you prefer—you’re the chef here!

Why I Preserve My Crusts

Many chefs preparing shrimp toast opt to remove the bread crusts, but I strongly disagree. It seems wasteful! Plus, the crust serves as an excellent boundary to keep the filling on the bread.

If you insist on removing the crusts, do it before spreading the shrimp mix, and blitz them in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. They can be stored in the freezer and used anytime you’re making meatballs, meatloaf, or any dish craving a breadcrumb touch.

Shrimp toasts make a stellar party appetizer, especially with beer or cocktails. They’re prime candidates for a New Year’s Eve party nibble. This recipe yields 16 petite triangular toasts, but it can be doubled or tripled for larger gatherings!


  • 1 ounce of pork fat (30g, optional)
  • ½ pound of shrimp (225g, peeled and deveined)
  • ¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 1 egg white
  • 4 slices of white sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. If you’re opting for the traditional inclusion of pork fat, blend it in a food processor until smooth. Follow up with the shrimp, cilantro, scallions, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, salt, cornstarch, and egg white. Continue processing until the mixture attains a smooth consistency.
  2. Divide this mixture equally among the 4 slices of sandwich bread, ensuring it’s evenly spread to the edges. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and gently press them into the shrimp mix. Cut each slice diagonally into quarters to form petite triangles.
  3. In a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet, heat up ⅛ inch of oil until it shimmers. Fry the shrimp toasts, starting with the shrimp side down, until golden—approximately 2-3 minutes.
  4. Carefully flip them using a spatula and fry the other side for about 1 minute. Transfer them to paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve promptly!

These shrimp toasts are not just a delightful party appetizer but also pack a nutritional punch. Shrimp are a great source of lean protein, iodine, and several vitamins and minerals, while cilantro has impressive antioxidant properties.

In the spirit of reducing food waste and promoting sustainability, the breadcrumbs suggestion serves a dual purpose. It’s a great tip for utilizing bread that would otherwise go unused, and homemade breadcrumbs are free from the additional salt and preservatives found in store-bought versions.

While indulging in this classic takeout dish, it’s interesting to note its cultural significance. Shrimp toast is a testament to the fusion of Chinese and American culinary traditions, reminding us of the beautiful blend of cultures that food can represent.

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