Here’s how Gabrielle Hamilton makes her favorite bar snack from Prune restaurant. It starts rock shrimp that have a really meaty texture. The shrimp gets pulverized with the tom yum paste. The whites of some scallions are added after the paste is pasty. And thankfully for all of us, Gabrielle has done her homework when it comes to the most friable soft, white sandwich bread from the grocery isle. The winner is Pepperidge Farm white bread. Don’t even try to use a “gourmet” bread substitute. It just won’t be as good. Take the shrimp paste and slather it onto the bread and coat with sesame seeds. The toast is then deep fried and garnished with the greens of the scallions.
RECIPE FOR DEEP-FRIED SHRIMP TOASTS WITH SESAME SEEDS
Reprinted with permission from Prune.
Yield: 4 orders
½ pound rock shrimp
2 – 2 ½ Tablespoons tom yum paste
2 scallions, sliced fine
4 slices white bread
¼ cup hulled sesame seeds
- Grind shrimp and tom yum paste in Robot Coupe until smooth and sticky. You want the intensely sticky enzymes in the shrimp to emerge. Taste the mixture – it should be dark orange, with a strong flavor of tom yum. A small lick of raw shrimp won’t hurt you.
- By hand, stir in the scallions, distributing evenly. (If you grind the scallion in the food processor, it makes the mixture spongy and weird).
- Mound shrimp paste high in the center of each slice of bread and spread it to edges with a short-handled offset spatula. Paste should be slightly domed in center, but angular, like a perfect squat pyramid. In any event, use the scale and weigh these out – 3 ½ ounces each (total weight) makes perfect bread-to-paste ratio.
- Spread sesame seeds out in a shallow container and lay shrimp toasts facedown to coat evenly. Cut into quarters on the diagonal, to make 4 triangles.
- Deep-fry, sesame sides down, in 350° fryer. Flip them midway and fry, toast side down, until golden and crispy. They float, so you have to attend to them or else the bread doesn’t get crispy enough if they are not flipped during frying.
- Drain in stacks of coffee filters; do not season further.
Lay in one shingled stack, flipping every other triangle over to make seed-toast-seed-toast pattern.
Scatter with freshly shaved scallion at the pass.
Do not bring back any other brand than Pepperidge Farm Original White sandwich bread even if you have to walk to three different grocery stores! None of the other supermarket breads hold their structure in the fryer . . .
And don’t use anything better – no brioche! No pain de mie! – in some attempt to make this “gourmet.” We are not that kind of restaurant.