This recipe is inspired by fond memories of shrimp toast, a treat from childhood lunches at my uncle’s Sydney restaurant, Lee’s Fortuna Court. This beloved Cantonese snack features small triangles of bread, which are smeared with a paste made from minced shrimp, then dipped in sesame seeds and deep-fried. This mushroom version satiates my hunger, thanks to the rich, bold mushroom pâté, which I use as the paste for the bread. This “fried bread” is pure comfort food. If you’re short on time, use store-bought mushroom pâté.
SERVES 4–6 AS A SNACK
6 thick slices of white bread
¾–1 cup Mushroom, Leek and Walnut Pâté (see below)
2 green onions, finely chopped, plus more to serve
⅓ cup toasted sesame seeds (white, black or both)
extra-virgin olive oil
Sweet and sour sauce:
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 ½ tablespoons ketchup
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
To make the sweet and sour sauce, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Lay out the bread slices and spread a thick layer of the mushroom pâté on all of them, extending all the way to the edges. Scatter with the green onion and a little sea salt and gently press the green onion into the pâté. Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate and press the bread, pâté-side down, into the sesame seeds to coat evenly.
Pour about ⅜ inch (1 cm) of olive oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat until hot. Add a tiny blob of pâté to the oil; if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Working in two or three batches, fry the toasts, pâté-side down, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook until the other sides are golden and crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.
Cut each toast diagonally into quarters and top with more green onion, then serve with the sweet and sour sauce on the side.
For gluten-free and vegan • use gluten- free bread
Mushroom, Leek and Walnut Pâté
I have no fear of brown food. I grew up eating it; some of my favorite childhood dishes were the color of dirt, wood and the earth. I’m not sure where the repudiation of brown food came from—perhaps it was born with the rise of social media and the need to ensure that food is always bright and beautiful, but, to me, some of the most delicious foods in the world are this earthy hue. Brown represents warmth, steadfastness, simplicity, and this is how I see this very brown, very tasty mushroom pâté. It is an everything food that is incredibly adaptable—spread it on crackers and in sandwiches, add it to dumpling fillings, wrap in filo pastry to make little triangles, serve with scrambled eggs or use it to make the Sesame Mushroom Toast. Experiment with different types of mushrooms to achieve slightly different results—button mushrooms will give you a pâté that is milder in both flavor and color, while wild mushrooms will yield a more intense spread.
MAKES ABOUT 1 ½ CUPS
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white and green parts finely sliced and washed well
1 ounce (30 g) dried porcini or Chinese shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound (450 g) mushrooms (any variety), roughly chopped
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
sea salt and black pepper
1 cup (100 g) walnuts, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the leek, then cook for 6–8 minutes, until softened.
Meanwhile, remove the dried mushrooms from their soaking water and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Roughly chop the mushrooms, then strain the soaking liquid through paper towel or a fine-mesh sieve to remove any grit and sediment. Set the liquid aside.
Add the garlic, chopped mushroom and rehydrated dried mushrooms to the pan and stir for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the five-spice powder and red pepper flakes and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside to cool for 5–10 minutes.
Drain the walnuts and add them to a food processor or blender, along with the cooled mushroom mixture, and pulse about 10 times, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to scrape down the side. If the mixture is thick and hard to blend, add a little of the mushroom soaking liquid to get the motor going. Continue pulsing (this gives you more control over the final texture, but you could just press blend and let it go) until you have reached your desired consistency—I like it almost smooth, with a little texture. Traditional pâté is very smooth. Spoon into a bowl or jar. Consume immediately or chill in the fridge for 2 hours, to allow the flavors to mingle.
Storage: Keep the pâté in an airtight container in the fridge for 3–4 days. Freeze in a zip-seal bag for up to 1 month and thaw by allowing to come to room temperature.
Serving suggestions: Spread a generous layer of pâté on bread and top with finely chopped chives and olive oil, an egg (fried or soft-boiled), dots of quick-pickled shallot or onion, scattered goat cheese or a drizzle of Umami Crisp or chili oil.
Gluten-free and vegan
Substitute • leek: yellow onion • walnuts: cashews, pecans, hazelnuts
Credit line: From Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds. © 2023 by Hetty Lui McKinnon. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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