By SARA MOULTON
Chinese New Year is the sort of new year celebration I love.
Unlike the Western tradition of big blowout parties, Chinese New Year is a time to get together with family, to give thanks for what you have, to retire your grudges, and to look forward to a year of peace and happiness. In that way, I think of it much as I do Thanksgiving.
It's in the spirit of Chinese New Year (which this year starts Sunday) that I've reconfigured one of my favorite dim sum dishes — shrimp toasts. Traditionally, shrimp toasts are made of chopped or ground shrimp seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions and rice wine. This mixture is mounded onto little toasts and deep-fried. The result is creamy on top, crispy on the bottom, and richly flavorful all through.
Like everyone else on the planet, if it's fried, I love it. But how to get the crunch of frying without the fat? By swapping out the usual white bread for a slice of baguette. Since baguettes become wonderfully crunchy when baked, I could cut the fat and keep the crunch.
But then I worried that the shrimp mixture would dry out during baking. It needed protection, or some sort of coating. That's when I reached for one of my favorite stealth ingredients — mayonnaise. It makes a terrific glaze. I spiked low-fat mayo with some sesame oil and sprinkled it with sesame seeds and, sure enough, it did the trick. The shrimp topping stayed creamy.