Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Today's world food that you can prepare at home comes from China by way of North America and includes cream cheese! Crab Rangoon is a popular Chinese-American dish found throughout North America. Like General Tso's Chicken its origin is sketchy and disputed. That of course doesn't affect its popularity at all. As I've written before and will no doubt write again: A food's origins can be sketchy or lost with time, it doesn't matter because the truth is in the taste.
Generally, the crab rangoon you'll find in most Chinese restaurants are simple and good, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. If you're going to go through the effort of preparing something at home, you might as well make it as best you can. I think you'll find the recipe below offers a little more depth and complexity compared to the average takeout crab rangoon. That's a good thing and takes almost no extra work on your part.
You may also be surprised to see that I recommend using real OR imitation crab meat. It's all about week to week economics for me. When crab meat is on sale I'll use it, when it isn't, I'm not too proud to use the imitation stuff. Neither are most Chinese restaurants, more often than not they're using the imitation stuff exclusively.
You'll see I call for the addition of some MSG. Use it if you like, avoid it you're sensitive to it. I find that it does make a difference in this dish's authentic taste.
Finally, I dedicate this dish to my 4-year-old daughter Sadie. She has always loved crab rangoon but calls them "Cheesy Triangles". One day her mom took note and asked me to begin making them at home for my daughters. That worked out great because I love them as well!
Sadie's Crab Rangoon
1 to 1-1/2 cups (packed) crab meat/immitation crab meat (shredded)
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (I use Philadelphia brand)
1/4 cup sour cream
3 green onions (white and very pale green parts only, sliced thin. Use the green parts to garnish)
1 clove garlic (minced fine)
1 tsp ginger (minced fine)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp MSG (Ac'cent)
Package of wonton wrappers (enough for 50 to 60 crab rangoon)
Small bowl of cool water
Peanut oil for frying
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar and MSG until smooth and well-combined.
Thoroughly fold in the crab meat and green onions to the cheese mix.
To form the crab rangoon:
Place the small bowl of water on your work surface.
Place a wonton wrapper on your work surface. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of the cheese and crab mix in the center of the wonton wrapper (the proper amount depends on the size you bought).
Take your finger and dip it in to the water. Run your finger on the outside edge of the wonton square. Then gently fold it over to form a triangle shape. Seal the edges firmly so they don't open during frying. You will find that as you seal one edge, the other may raise a bit, that's okay, go with this, it makes the process quicker and easier. Once you get the hang of it you'll be moving right along. Grab another person to help and you'll be flying!
Place each finished crab rangoon on a large sheet of wax or parchment paper. Cover with a kitchen towel to keep moist while you make the others.
When finished forming the crab rangoon:
Place a pan suitable for deep frying over medium-high heat. Immediately pour the peanut oil to a depth of about 2". Heat to 350°F.
Cook the crab rangoon in the hot oil (turning once) in small batches. They cook quickly. When finished frying, remove them with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on a rack or paper towels.
NOTE: I find that I should cook them just a shade or two lighter than the "golden brown" I'm looking for. They seem to darken more a few moments after you remove them from the oil. You'll know if you fry them too long because the the cheese and crab mixture will start to seep out from the seams.
Recipe: Crab Rangoon from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk http://www.choponionsboilwater.com