Umeboshi Shrimp Toast
I can still remember the day I went to see ‘Pretty in Pink’. I was visiting friends in San Diego. One evening, we went to the movies to see a new release. Just another teen angst movie, or so I thought. True, it was a teen angst movie. But the music played such a vital role, that I was completely gobsmacked by the whole experience. We literally went directly from the theatre to the music store so that I could pick up the soundtrack. Yes, this was the days of tapes and CD’s. If you wanted one song, you invested in the entire album. But for this soundtrack, I didn’t mind. Every single song was a keeper, and a beacon to a generation of Eighties teens and up. I played it over and over, as we did at that age. To this day it is still amongst my all time favourite soundtracks. My picks for top movies may not include ‘Pretty in Pink’ but the music stands alone.
This recipe developed after a visit to Stockholm a few years back. We fell in love with the city. So vibrant, youthful in its outlook, efficient (the German in me loves this!) and filled with friendly people. The architecture was unique and stately, and the city sits on water in a way that reminded us of Venice.
Another thing we enjoyed was the food. True, Stockholm is not usually considered a foodie destination. When people plan trips that include exotic dishes and flavours, they usually consider Thailand, Indonesia, India, Morocco, Greece, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, even Brazil and Spain or Italy. That’s where the explosion of spices, flavours and ingredients collide, and usually presented in an excess of colours and festivity. Sweden… not so much. But there is an elegance to their dishes. It may be a tad more constrained and simple in ingredients, but the way they do combine the ingredients that have been part of their culture for centuries is just brilliant. And they truly reflect their heritage and environment in their cuisine.
Naturally when you think of Sweden, you think Smorgasbord. That buffet style meal of hot and cold dishes, a lot of them toppings on dense rye breads, along with pickles, hard boiled eggs, veggies, salads, cheeses etc. Germans eat the same way. We just don’t call it Smorgasbord. Smorgas means open-faced sandwich and Bord means table. We usually call the same style of sandwich ‘Buter Brott’ butter bread- the act of buttering that pumpernickel or rye slice, and then having options of what to lay on top.
One of the things you will often see on a Swedish buffet table is Shrimp Toast. Sweden has access to amazing seafood, so a lot of their dishes do include fish of some kind. Think ‘Lutfisk’ or ‘Rollmops’. Naturally in the winter (a real winter!) their access to fresh is limited, so that’s where the smoking and pickling of fish comes in handy. But this is a dish that uses fresh (or frozen and thawed) shrimp. Making a simple salad out of the shrimp with mayo and capers and then spooning it onto bread, and topping it with shredded radish, or sliced cucumber and crumbled egg is one of the most amazing and yet simple dishes. It really has a retro feel to it. Somehow I equate this dish with those hors d’oeuvres of the Sixties. But that’s alright. I kinda like that!
These days we’re taking a bit of liberty with those classic appetizers and dishes. So it really isn’t that much different with this recipe today. Yes, the shrimp is there. Yes the mayo is there (although if you choose to make a homemade aioli, I get it) But now we’re much more global in our approach to eating. So, why not do that here? I have my Entube Umeboshi paste, and just felt compelled to try it out here. The paste combines the Japanese Plum with spices, a bit of heat, and the perfect amount of saltiness. It would work perfectly with shrimp. And it turns them the loveliest shade of cotton candy pink! While it’s tradition to serve it on marble rye toast, this would work equally well in little gems lettuce as a wrap appetizer. Have you checked out Entube yet? Those little tubes of goodness get used regularly over here, and are just so versatile:)
Make these up for a lunch or as part of an appetizer board. This is perfect for special occasions, or when you need to whip up something for last minute company. Leave the salad in a bowl with a side of seeded crackers or flatbread and let guests serve themselves. And make sure that The Smiths or OMD is playing in the background. Best soundtrack. In my humble opinion. What music do you play when entertaining? Or cooking?
- 1 lb of cooked shrimp (size: 150-200 per pound) fresh or thawed (feeds 4 or 6 as a lunch; feeds 8-10 as a small appetizer)
- 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Entube Umeboshi paste (or to taste)
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
- rye, pumpernickel, baguette or even ciabatta, sliced and lightly toasted
- 1-2 cups baby greens, shredded
- freshly cracked pepper
- thinly sliced cucumbers
- thinly sliced radishes
- red onion, thin rings
- pea shoots
- Ensure that the shrimp is well drained, and patted dry.
- Place in a large bowl
- In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise and Umeboshi paste. Depending on how thin you would like the paste, add lemon juice accordingly. Mix into the shrimp. Taste and re-season as desired.
- Place some shredded greens onto the toast slices. Top with spoonful of the shrimp.
- The size of the bread and the amount of shrimp you portion out will determine how many you can feed.
- Garnish with a variety of veggies as described above.
- The Swedes will even garnish this recipe with a hard boiled egg, crumbled.
- Feel free to serve this with lettuce leaves instead. Just ensure that they are dry and sturdy.
- Or serve the entire shrimp salad in a bowl with a spoon and flatbread slices on the side.
- This is not the time for jumbo shrimp. The size I show above is perfect for bite size eating. Any larger, and the impact and manageability is lost.