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Crab Rangoon

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Baked crab rangoons
Paul Poplis/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Crab Rangoon is a Perennial Party Favorite:

One appetizer that remains popular year after year is Crab Rangoon. The sweet, delicate flavor of crab and the crunchy texture of deep-fried wonton make for an intriguing combination.

Crab Rangoon Origins:

Many people don't realize that, despite having the capital city of Burma in its name, crab rangoon isn't an Asian recipe. While its exact origins are difficult to trace, it may be the creation of a chef at Trader Vic's, a restaurant chain started by "Trader Vic" Bergeron that became famous for its Polynesian cuisine in the 1950's. In any event, today Crab Rangoon (occasionally misspelled as Crab Ragoon) is very popular, particularly in eastern states and the Midwest.

Basic Crab Rangoon Ingredients:

The four basic ingredients in Crab Rangoon are crab, cream cheese, green/spring onions, and wonton wrappers. From there, the only limit is your imagination. Even these four ingredients aren't cast in stone - for example, you could use egg roll wrappers in place of wonton, or substitute cilantro for the green onion.

Seasonings:

Worcestershire sauce, a popular seafood enhancer with its unique mix of tamarind, dark soy sauce, and vinegar, is found in many Crab Rangoon recipes. Another popular flavor combination is sesame oil and dark soy sauce. Many recipes call for fresh garlic, or more rarely, fresh ginger.

How to Cook Crab Rangoon:

When it comes time to cook, traditionally Crab Rangoon is deep-fried. However, if the thought of being near large quantities of hot oil makes you nervous, another option is to bake the filled wonton. Personally, I haven't had a great deal of success with this method. For baking, I would be tempted to forego the wonton altogether and use a different type of wrapping, such as fillo dough, or even bake the crabmeat filling separately and serve it as a dip with baked wonton chips.

Of course, you're moving away from the idea of Crab Rangoon by that point - but here is a recipe for "baked" crab rangoon - the filling is heated and served as a dip on wonton "chips."

If you do decide to try baking filled wonton wrappers instead of deep-frying, use a nonstick baking sheet and brush the tops of the wontons with sesame oil. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes or until the Rangoon is golden brown.

Sauces to Accompany Crab Rangoon:

Finally, there is the matter of a dipping sauce. The sharp bite of Chinese hot mustard works well with Crab Rangoon. Sweet and Sour Sauce is good as well.

Crab Rangoon Cooking Tips:

 

  • Use fresh cooked crabmeat if possible. If using canned crabmeat, drain and flake first. Also, remember to work with the drained weight of the crabmeat when figuring out the amount to use.
  • Most recipes have a slightly higher ratio of cream cheese to crabmeat, but it all comes down to how "cheesy" you like your Crab Rangoon. In the recipe below I use a 1:1 ratio - feel free to adjust the proportions.
  • Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature before using.
  • If the filling is leaking out of the wrapper, try sealing the wonton with egg white or a water/cornstarch mixture instead of plain water.
  • Some Crab Rangoon recipes include Chinese vegetables such as bok choy and water chestnuts. I would go sparingly on the extras - this is one of those recipes where "less is more."

 

Crab Rangoon Recipe:

Crab Rangoon Recipe
Yield: 44 - 48 Crab Rangoon

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces fresh crab meat or canned crab meat, drained and flaked
1/2 teaspoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1 - 1 1/2 green onions, finely sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon red onion, chopped

1 package wonton wrappers
1 small bowl filled with water for wetting wontons
Oil for deep-frying

Directions:
Combine the crab and the cream cheese. Mix in the remaining filling ingredients one at a time.
On a flat surface, lay out a wonton wrapper in front of you so that it forms a diamond shape. Wet the edges of the wonton.
Add a heaping teaspoon of filling to the middle, and spread it out toward the left and right points of the diamond so that it forms a log or rectangular shape (otherwise the wrapper may break in the middle during deep-frying).
Fold over the edges of the wrapper so that it forms a triangle shape. Seal the edges, adding more water if needed.
Cover the completed Crab Rangoon with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out while preparing the rest.
Heat wok and add oil for deep-frying. When oil is ready (the temperature should be between 360 - 375 degrees), carefully slide in the Crab Rangoon, taking care not to overcrowd the wok. Deep-fry until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning once. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Cool and serve.

(To make ahead: The filling can be prepared up to a day ahead of time and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, or the wontons can be filled and refrigerated up to one day ahead of time before cooking. The wontons can also be prepared up to the deep-frying stage and frozen for up to 3 months. Cook the frozen wonton according to the instructions above, adding a few minutes to the cooking time).

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