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~ Crab Rangoon w/More Crab than Cream Cheese ~

IMG_5437Crab meat, scallions and seasoned cream cheese all wrapped up in a wonton, deep-fried and served with a sweet dipping sauce (like duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce).  It's a staple appetizer on most Chinese-American restaurant menus, and, an appetizer I almost never order. Why? Because 99% of the time, both the sweet flavor and delicate texture of the crab (or worse -- imitation crab) is 100% lost to the cream cheese -- akin to seasoned cream cheese spread.

IMG_5444With Rangoon (the capital city  of Burma) in its name, most people think this is an authentic Asian specialty.  It's not.  It's claimed to be the creation of a chef at Trader Vic's, a California-based restaurant chain started by Victor Jules ("Trader Vic") Bergeron in Oakland in the 1950's. They became famous for exotic Polynesian cuisine, cocktails and atmosphere -- he was one of two people who claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.  During the Tiki-culture-fad of the 1960's (yes, there indeed was one), as many as 25 restaurants were in operation around the world.

Screen shot 2017-01-25 at 12.04.00 PMOn the Trader Vic's menus, crab rangoon was a pricey menu item -- $10.50 when I ate there in Atlanta in the '80's.  For the price, I should have loved it, but, I did not.  I did, however, come to the conclusion that crab Rangoon, which is not at all hard to make, could be a crowd-pleasing appetizer that should be made in the home kitchen, where the flavor and texture could be controlled -- by me.  

There's more:  The investment in 8 or 16 ounces of fresh or pasteurized crab meat (both work fine -- it just depends on where you live and availability) turns out to be surprisingly economical, as, the recipe turns out enough appetizers for a nice-sized get-together:  2 or 4 dozen.  When reading my recipe below, notice, I've done the calculations for you, for a small- or large-batch.

Next:  Everyone always asks if Rangoon can be made ahead and frozen.  Some folks say they freeze them, after assembly and short of frying, flat on a baking pan for 2-4 weeks.  Hear me:  I do not like the texture after freezing -- the filling gets a bit mealy, so, I don't do it.  That said, I do assemble them 4-6 hours in advance, cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate prior to deep-frying.  After frying, if left at room temperature, uncovered, for a few hours (on the cooling rack placed in a baking pan), then, baked in a 350º oven for 3-4 short minutes, they will crisp up beautifully and taste wonderful.  They'll stay puffy too -- can't ask for more than that.  

Here's a bit more make-your-life-easier news:

IMG_5431I use the food processor to make the filling in 3-4 minutes!  

IMG_5364To make 2 or 4 dozen (a small batch or a large batch):

8 or 16 ounces jumbo lump crab meat, well-drained, the best available

4 or 8  ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft

1/4 or 1/2  cup 1/4"-sliced scallions, white and light-green parts only (1 or 2 ounces)

1 1/2 teaspoons or 1  tablespoon garlic paste

1  tablespoon or 2 tablespoons ginger paste

1 1/2 teaspoons or 1  tablespoon Chinese-style soy sauce*

peanut oil or vegetable oil for deep-frying

2 or 4 dozen, 3"-3 1/4"-square wonton wrappers

IMG_5388 IMG_53891 or 2  large eggs, whisked with 1 or 2 tablespoons water, for sealing wontons

duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce, for dipping or drizzling

freshly-ground sea salt, for sprinkling on appetizers as they come out of the fryer

*Note:  To steer this appetizer in the direction of Thailand, add 2 or 4 tablespoons minced cilantro to the cream cheese mix, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon Thai seasoning soy sauce for Chinese soy sauce, and, serve with Mae Ploy (sweet chili sauce) for dipping. 

IMG_5366 IMG_5370 IMG_5372 IMG_5374 IMG_5376 IMG_5379~Step 1.  Place the crab meat on a paper-towel lined plate, to allow the paper to absorb any and all of the excess moisture.  Preheat the oil in a deep-fryer to 365°-375°.  Prep and place the sliced scallions in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Using a series of 25-30 rapid on-off pulses, process to small, minced bits and pieces, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice during the processing.  Add the cream cheese, garlic paste, ginger paste and soy sauce.  With motor running, process until combined and smooth, about 25-30 seconds, again, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl with the spatula during the process.

IMG_5384 IMG_5386~ Step 2.  Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a medium or large bowl.  Add the well-drained crab meat.  Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the crab meat into the cream cheese, doing your best to allow the meat to remain in large lumps.

IMG_5392 IMG_5394 IMG_5400 IMG_5402~Step 3.  Working in batches of 4-6 appetizers at a time (because it is important not to overcrowd the fryer basket, brush the edges of each of 4-6 wonton wrappers with the egg wash.  

Place 1 1/2-2 teaspoons of filling mixture into the center of each wrapper -- I use a small, 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure.  

Lift and fold one corner of the wrapper over the top of the filling, to create a triangle, then, using your fingertips, pinch the edges together to form a tight seal.

IMG_5410 IMG_5412 IMG_5417 IMG_5425~Step 4.  Open the lid of the fryer.  Using your fingertips, one-at-a-time, gently drop 4-6 filled rangoon down into the fryer basket.  Close the lid and fry until light-golden, about 3 minutes.  Do not overcook or the filling will being to ooze out.  Using an Asian spider or a large slotted spoon, remove from fryer, transfer to a wire rack that has been placed on a  layer or two of paper towels (to absorb the oily drips), and, immediately sprinkle with a fresh grinding of sea salt.  Repeat this process until all Rangoon (2 or 4 dozen) are filled, fried and ready to serve ASAP.

Rangoon:  filled, formed & awaiting a 3-minute deep-fry:

IMG_5406Rangoon:  fried, drained, salted & awaiting dipping sauce:

IMG_5421Crab Rangoon w/More Crab than Cream Cheese:  Recipe yields 2 or 4 dozen appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  paper towels; cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; large rubber spatula; pastry brush; 1-2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; plastic wrap; pastry brush; 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop; deep fryer; Asian spider or large slotted spoon; wire cooling rack.

6a0120a8551282970b017ee7540d14970dCook's Note:  You can find my recipe for making homemade ~ Sweet & Sour Sauce for Seafood, Poultry or Pork ~ by clicking on the Related Article Link below.  To get my recipe for ~ "Would You Like 'Duck' Sauce with That?" "Yes!" ~, just click into Categories 8, 13 or 26.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)


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