One of the benefits of being a Foodbuzz featured publisher is that occasionally we have the opportunity to sample great products from sponsors such as Nature’s Pride. We received loaves of 12 grain bread and whole wheat bread to sample and aside from making some great sandwiches, we wanted to make something different that would not only showcase our culinary perspective but also showcase the product.
When we think of sliced bread recipes, we immediately think of shrimp toast which is a classic dim sum dish composed of shrimp paste on baked sliced bread and then deep fried. But we couldn’t bring ourselves to subjecting these all natural, no preservatives or artificial flavor breads to deep frying so we created an appetizer inspired by shrimp toast, that enhances the natural sweetness of the bread to contrast some savory shrimp and pork belly. We decided to use the 12 grain bread which has a the great nutty flavor with little chunks of oats and sunflower seeds.
1 lb medium sized shrimp, deshelled and deveined, cut into small 1/4 inch pieces but save 12 shrimp to butterfly (we prefer to leave tail on for the butterflied shrimp)
1/2 lb pork belly, also cut into small 1/4 inch slices
soften butter or olive oil to spread on bread
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs sugar
2 ts ground pepper
1/2 ts thick soy sauce
1/2 ts Sriracha sauce
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 bell pepper, finely diced>
1 bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade thinly
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a mold cutter or a small bowl, cut out some circular pieces of bread (save the unused parts for croutons, crumbs, or bread pudding) and using rolling pin or your hands, flatten the bread. Spread some butter or olive oil on both sides of bread, including the edges, and fit into the muffin tin that is also very lightly greased with butter or oil. Place in middle rack for about 10-12 minutes or until nicely brown and toasty.
Combine the cut shrimp and whole shrimp with 1 tbs of fish sauce, 1/2 tbs sugar, 1 ts pepper, 1/2 ts Sriracha, 1/2 garlic and shallots and mix and set aside. In separate bowl, combine the cut pork belly with 1 tbs fish sauce, 1/2 ts thick soy sauce, 1/2 tbs sugar, 1 ts pepper and remainder of garlic and shallots and mix well.
Heat a pan to medium high and sautee the pork belly. No cooking oil needed as the fat from the pork belly will render and brown. After about 3-4 min add only the cut shrimp and cook till opaque. Finally add the diced bell peppers, toss, and turn off heat and transfer to bowl. Using the same pan, add a touch of cooking oil and sear the butterflied shrimps.
By this time, the bread cups should be nice and toasty. These should slide out easily–if not, give it a gentle twist and it’ll slide out and transfer to serving plate. Add the shrimp and pork mixture to each bread cup. Top with a butterflied shrimp and garnish with fresh basil. Use additional Sriricha sauce for an extra kick.
Cooks note: To butterfly shrimp, cut down the back like deveining but deeper, being careful not to cut through the shrimp. On the underside of the shrimp, there is a blue vein, pierce through that vein at a few places to prevent the butterflied shrimp from curling up too much.
Unlike bready canapes where toppings tend to fall off, these flavorful toasty whole grain bread cups are the perfect vessel for the spicy and savory shrimp and pork belly. And of course, we can’t call ourselves Vietnamese if we didn’t add some fresh basil on top. We’ll definitely make this appetizer again at our next get together!
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