BY SARA MOULTON
The Associated Press
---- — Chinese New Year is the sort of new year celebration I love.
Unlike the Western tradition of big blowout parties, Chinese New Year is a time to get together with family, to give thanks for what you have, to retire your grudges and to look forward to a year of peace and happiness. In that way, I think of it much as I do Thanksgiving.
It's in the spirit of Chinese New Year (which this year starts Feb. 10) that I've reconfigured one of my favorite dim sum dishes — shrimp toasts. Not familiar with dim sum? Think of it as Chinese tapas, or small plates of food.
Traditionally, shrimp toasts are made of chopped or ground shrimp seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions and rice wine. This mixture then is mounded onto little toasts and deep-fried. The result is creamy on top, crispy on the bottom and richly flavorful through and through.
Like everyone else on the planet, if it's fried, I love it. In this case, though, I was hoping to get the crunch of frying without the fat.
I did a bunch of research and discovered that while the toast in this dish usually is made of plain old white bread, sometimes it's swapped out for a slice of baguette. Eureka! Since baguettes become wonderfully crunchy when baked, I figured that was how — without frying — I could conjure the crunchiness necessary for this recipe.
But then I worried that the shrimp mixture would dry out during baking. It needed protection, or some sort of coating. That's when I reached for one of my favorite stealth ingredients — mayonnaise. It makes a terrific glaze. I spiked low-fat mayo with some sesame oil and sprinkled it with sesame seeds and, sure enough, it did the trick. The shrimp topping stayed creamy.
Baked Sesame Shrimp Toasts
32 diagonally sliced ½-inch-thick baguette slices
½ lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large egg white
2﻿½ t. sake, Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 t. finely grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1﻿½ t. hot sauce
1﻿½ t. toasted sesame oil, divided
Heaping ¼ t. kosher salt
¼ t. sugar
4-oz. can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
¼ c. low-fat mayonnaise
2 t. sesame seeds
Heat the oven to 400°.
On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Spritz the bread slices on both sides with cooking spray. Bake them on the oven's middle shelf for four minutes. Remove them from the oven, turn over each slice, then set aside. Reduce the oven to 350°.
In a food processor, combine the shrimp, egg white, sake, ginger, garlic, hot sauce, ½ t. of the sesame oil, the salt and the sugar. Puree until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the water chestnuts and scallions.
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Mound a rounded tablespoon of the shrimp mixture on top of each toast and spread evenly over the toast. Brush the top of each mound with some of the mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake on the oven's middle shelf for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the shrimp mixture is just cooked through. Serve hot. Makes 32.
Nutrition information per toast: 120 calories; 20 calories from fat (17 percent of total calories); 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 5 g protein; 260 mg sodium.