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Rustic Shrimp Toasts

Rustic Shrimp Toasts
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Zuni Cafe, a San Francisco Landmark

According to Christian David Reynoso, his version of Shrimp Toast started life as a Staff snack at Zuni Café in San Francisco.

Chef Christian David Reynoso

This great appetizer can also serve as a main dish which is how we served it. A lemony, garlic-y aioli is loaded with shrimp, scallions, capers, and red pepper flakes. This is spread over ½ inch thick slices of country-style bread.  Chilled for 10 to 30 minutes –to help the shrimp stick to the bread–under the broiler they go. Watched carefully, the toasts emerge golden, crisp, and flavorful with the shrimp cooked to a perfect pink.  It makes a great appetizer or sliced into smaller pieces a great hors d’oeuvre.  We served it as a main course with a green salad. Whatever way you serve it, this one’s a keeper.

Zuni’s Famous Chicken for Two.

Christian spent the last five years cooking as a Sous chef at Zuni Café.

According to the chef, he was inspired to create this dish when he was charged with making late-night snacks at Zuni Café, (1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 Tel: (415) 552-2522.) Reynoso writes “ I made my Toasts using unsold shrimp and leftover bread that practically begged me to toss them with aioli”.  One of our all-time favorites, Zuni became enormously famous when  Chef Judy Rodgers came on board. Trained in France, Judy joined Zuni with the understanding that a wood-fired brick oven would be built.  From this oven emerged the most famous of all Zuni dishes. “Chicken for Two” is accompanied by a warm bread salad with scallions, garlic, mustard greens dried currants, and pine nuts. Sadly, Judy Rodgers died of cancer at age 57 in 2013.  Zuni is still going strong. Here’s a link to Zuni’s Chicken recipe from the New York Times: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015770-zuni-cafe-chicken 

The Original Shrimp Toast is an example of one of the earliest forms of fusion cuisine.

Chef Reynoso’s version doesn’t pretend to have a kinship to that staple of the dim sum table, Shrimp Toast.  That dish originated in Hong Kong. It is made from small triangles of bread coated with a paste made from minced shrimp and then deep-fried.  Shrimp or Prawn paste, a very common ingredient in Hong Kong’s Cantonese cuisine. Toast, however, originated in the West. From Hong Kong, the dish expanded along with trading routes making its way to Vietnam, Thailand, and even Japan.  It is a very common appetizer in both American and Australian Chinese restaurants. And in the UK, Ireland, and Australia sesame seeds are added to create Sesame Prawn Toast. Here is the recipe for Christian David Reynaldo’s Rustic Prawn Toast.


Rustic Shrimp Toast

September 14, 2021
: 4
: Easy

A lemony garlic aioli is topped with shrimp, scallions, capers and red pepper flakes then spread on top of country-style bread emerging from the oven as a crisp, golden treat.


  • For the Aioli:
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. lemon rind, minced
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 2.5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly Ground Pepper
  • For the Shrimp Toast: 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, patted dry, halved lengthwise
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1
  • Step 1 Make the Aioli:
  • Step 2 In a bowl mix together all ingredients–garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • Step 3 Mix shrimp, scallions, capers, red pepper flakes, capers, salt, and ½ cup aioli in a medium bowl to combine. Spread bread slices with remaining 2 Tbsp. aioli.
  • Step 4 Arrange shrimp, cut side down, in a snug, even layer on bread, all the way to the edges. Pack capers and scallions on, under, and between shrimp—wherever they will fit. Press shrimp mixture into the bread to ensure good contact. Place on a plate and chill at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes (this will help shrimp better adhere to bread)
  • Step 5 Heat broiler (set to low if you have that option).
  • Step 6 Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high. Cook 2 toasts, bread side down, 15 seconds, then transfer skillet to oven. Broil, watching toasts carefully, until golden and crisp in spots and shrimp turn pink and curl slightly, 5–7 minutes. (Broiler heat varies widely, so check on toasts every minute or so.) Transfer toasts to a cutting board. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and 2 toasts.
  • Step 7 Cut each toast in half and transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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