Calamari Toast with Hawthorn Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

This crunchy party appetizer from 2021 F&W Best New Chef Lucas Sin, of Junzi Kitchen and Nice Day in New York City, is inspired by classic Chinese shrimp toast. Here, Sin combines calamari and shrimp for the toast topper; a quick blitz in the food processor yields a tasty mixture that fries up perfectly crisp. Haw flakes, Chinese sweets made from the fruit of Chinese hawthorn, are a sweet and tangy snack usually served to guests with tea or as a treat for children; here, Sin uses them to flavor a dipping sauce for the toasts. The sauce can be used immediately, but Lucas recommends refrigerating it overnight for the best flavor. For a store-bought alternative, Sin recommends Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce.

Total Time:
1 hrs
Servings:
10

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 cups water

  • ¼ cup ketchup

  • ¼ cup plum sauce

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 3 (about .3-oz.) rolls haw flakes

  • 5 pieces dried hibiscus flowers

Calamari Toast

  • 8 ounces cleaned squid (tubes and tentacles), rinsed

  • 8 ounces peeled and deveined raw large shrimp, divided

  • ¼ cup potato starch

  • 1 large egg white

  • 2 tablespoons lard or chicken schmaltz

  • 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

  • 1 tablespoon Thai shrimp paste in oil

  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper, plusmore to taste

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

  • ¼ cup minced fresh Chinese chives

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • 10 (1-oz.) white bread slices, crusts removed

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Directions

Make the sauce:

  1. Combine 2 cups water, ketchup, plum sauce, vinegar, hawflakes, and hibiscus flowers in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium. Boil, stirring occasionally, until haw flakes are completely dissolved, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until runny but thick and reduced by one-third, about 25 minutes. Strain into a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl; set aside until ready to use.

Make the calamari toast:

  1. Combine squid, 5 ounces shrimp (about 10 shrimp), potato starch, egg white, lard, sugar, salt, ginger, garlic, wine, shrimp paste, white pepper, and sesame oil in bowl of a food processor. Pulse just until mixture forms a barely smooth paste, about 10 pulses. Transfer squid mixture to a bowl. Cut remaining 3 ounces shrimp (about 5 shrimp) into small pieces. Fold shrimp pieces and minced chives into squid mixture. Refrigerate mixture until ready to use.

  2. Pour vegetable oil into a large skillet or Dutch oven to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat over medium-high until oil reaches 350°F. Add a teaspoon of squid mixture to hot oil, and cook until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of squid piece registers 145°F, about 2 minutes. Remove from oil using a spider. Taste and add additional salt or white pepper to squid mixture, if desired; repeat, if desired.

  3. Spread 1/4 cup squid mixture onto 1 side of each bread slice. Coat top of squid mixture on each slice with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Gently press sesame seeds into squid mixture; shake off excess. Cut each bread piece into 4 triangles. Working in 4 batches, place bread triangles, squid side down, in hot oil. Cook until golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes, flipping halfway through cook time. Transfer to a wire rack to drain; let cool about 5 minutes. Serve with sauce.

    Calamari Toast with Hawthorn Sweet and Sour Sauce
    Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Make ahead

Sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.

Note

Find haw flakes, shrimp paste, and Chinese chives at Chinese markets or online at justasianfood.com.

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