Son of A Gun Style Vietnamese Shrimp Toast with Thai Basil, Cilantro and Sriracha Hoisin Mayo RecipeThursday, April 7th, 2011
One of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, for the last few years is still Animal, run by ex-caterers Chef Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Their style of food to me is unpretentious, real and personal on my many levels, and I’m sure many people would agree. A lot of the food ranges from motherly to late-night, stoner grub and there’s always an interesting take on American classics. When I heard about their seafood concept, Son of A Gun, I followed the big Angeleno crowds during the opening week. The problem is, the restaurant is just way too small with about 40 seats – half of which are given to walk-ins at their communal table. After about an hour wait, thankfully with delicious classic cocktails, we were seated. If you’ve been to Animal at least a dozen times like we have, you’ll start to recognize the similarities in the Son of A Gun menu with maybe three or four non-seafood items. From talking to others that have been, it’s clear which are the stars: the lobster roll, the fried chicken sandwich and the scrumptious shrimp toast. Considering I could make a meal out of three orders of the shrimp toast, $11 each for each tiny sandwich is just way too much to spend. Maybe I can show you how to make 8 generously-filled shrimp toasts for under $15? Here’s my take on Son of A Gun’s amazing shrimp toast.
Ingredients for 8 Shrimp Toasts
1 lb. of large shrimp (16-20 per pound size; peeled and de-veined)
Loaf of white bread (softer the better)
1 tablespoon of bottled fish sauce
One egg (whites only)
1 tablespoon of lemongrass stalks (grated)
2 pieces of sliced ginger (grated)
1 clove garlic (grated)
1/2 tablespoon of corn starch
Salt & pepper
Making the Shrimp Paste
(1) After you peel and de-vein your shrimp, toss a generous amount of kosher salt on the shrimp and wash it off in water to remove the shrimp cologne and also refresh the shrimp. Roughly chop the shrimp to make it easier for your food processor. Before you make the paste, have a small fry pan on low heat so you can test the shrimp paste out.
(2) Toss the shrimp in the food processor with the egg white, corn starch, fish sauce, a few pinches of lemongrass, 1/2 teaspoon of grated garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger, a few pinches of sugar, 2 teaspoons of oil and S&P. The corn starch is used to make the shrimp stick together and the oil gives the shrimp a nice sheen. PULSE the shrimp, do not turn the food processor fully on. About 7-8 pulses should be good.
(3) Now take a small spoonful and fry it up. Does it need more fish sauce? More S&P? The final taste should have a nice balance of fish sauce, sweetness from the sugar and hints of garlic/ginger/lemongrass. And the paste should stick together from the corn starch – if not, add a little more and mix it in by hand. Just make sure the paste isn’t salty!
Making the Sriracha Hoisin Mayo
Start with about 3-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise. I used the Japanese Kewpie mayo because it has a nice sweetness to it versus Miracle Whip. Now add Sriracha in and find your desired level of spiciness. Then add hoisin sauce in to taste. It should be dark brown and sweet. Be careful – too much hoisin sauce will make it taste too nutty. Use mayonnaise to balance it out. I added a tiny bit of lemon juice to give it a subtle tang.
Preparing the Bread
Son of A Gun finishes off their shrimp toast with a little butter and pan fries it to give it a nice buttery, crispiness. For me, it’s a bit too greasy. Get two pieces of white bread and neatly cut off the crusts, resulting in two nice rectangular cuts of white bread.
Turn on the broiler. Lightly brush olive oil or butter on the bread and broil for one minute. After one minute check it every 15 seconds to see that you’ve got the perfect amount of toasting. Take out.
After you’ve fried the shrimp toast, shrimp side down, you can flip the toast over and pan fry it till it’s crispy. Done, but oily.
Making the Shrimp Toast
(1) Spread a 1/4″ to 3/8″ layer of shrimp paste over the bread. SOAG gives you a 1/4″ if you’re lucky. In a skillet over medium heat, add vegetable or Canola oil and once it starts smoking, add the shrimp toast – shrimp side down. Pan fry for about 3-4 minutes and check to see that the shrimp is about 90% orange which means it’ll be done. You don’t want to overcook the shrimp.
(2) While you are frying the shrimp, get the other piece of toasted bread ready. Add generous amount of the Sriracha Hoisin mayo, considering how thick the bread and shrimp combined will be. Add about 4-5 pieces of Thai basil (smack it in your hands to wake it up) and 7-8 pieces of cilantro – less if it’s too herby for you.
(3) Optional, if you want to, lightly butter the sandwich and pan fry for about 15-20 seconds on each sideo. Cut the sandwich in half or thirds lengthwise and serve.
This turned out really tasty. I love Vietnamese food and went heavier on the fish sauce in the shrimp paste and basil/cilantro herbs. Enjoy and thanks for reading.
Son of a Gun Restaurant
8370 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048