Crab rangoon is an appetizer served in Chinese and Vietnamese-American restaurants. Growing up in St. Louis, crab rangoon was a given; you go to a Chinese restaurant, you have crab rangoon and egg rolls. To my pleasant surprise, I recently discovered that crab rangoon, while not exclusive to St. Louis, isn't offered everywhere.

It's fairly simple. Take a wonton and add a dollup of crab and cream cheese. Fold the edges over and fry. Crab rangoon bear striking resemblance to fried wontons, but the filling is warm and creamy and good for the soul.

But, Anne! There aren't any dairy products in traditional Vietnamese or Chinese cuisine. Where did this oddity come from?

Glad you asked! I posed the question to the chef at my local Chinese restaurant, a man who can make chop suey taste like heaven. Funny--though he runs a Chinese restaurant, he is actually Vietnamese. Here in St. Louis we have a huge population of Vietnamese immigrants, many of whom have established Chinese restaurants. But I digress. According to Khan, crab rangoon was created in the Rangoon province of Vietnam during French colonial times. The Vietnamese were appealing to the French palate by creating a dish that was fried, rich and creamy. The result is one of my favorite appetizers, and a must-try if you ever run across it on a menu.

It wouldn't be e2 without a recipe. Here goes, courtesy of Khan.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz fresh (or canned) crab meat, drained and flaked
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup green onion or leeks, finely chopped
  • garlic, salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste, including a hint of ginger
  • package of 48 wonton wraps
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten so thoroughly it can't run home to mama
  • oil (sesame or something more traditional) for deep-frying
  • sweet and sour, duck sauce, or hot mustard for dipping

Process:

  1. Combine the crab, cheese, onions, and spices into a bowl. Blend the ingredients until they're good and pasty.


  2. On the center of each wonton wrapper, place a dollop of your crab paste. You may want to play around with the orientation of the paste on the wonton, depending upon the folding technique you use in Step 3.


  3. Okay, so you're going to dip a cooking brush into the egg yolk and brush a little onto every edge of the wanton wrapper. The egg yolk is what's going to hold the wrap together. Then grab all four corners of the wonton wrapper, press, and hold them together.

    I think the best way to do it is to make an envelope, holding the wanton so it looks like a diamond. Then fold the bottom corner up and the right and left over, leaving the top fold to stick up. Pinch the seams together to seal.


  4. You're going to heat the oil to 375° F. You've got 48 of these babies to fold, so your oil has plenty of time to heat up.


  5. Fry each wonton for about 3 minutes. You want them to be golden brown and crispy; the wonton wrap may bubble a little. Pay careful attention that your filling isn't leaking out. That's bad, mmkay.


  6. Let the crab rangoon cool and dry on a paper towel. You can eat them hot, warm, or cold--they're always good. Try dipping them in the sauces mentioned above.

You can experiment with the filling and folding to suit your needs. Crab rangoon are light and mild; they work terrifically as an appetizer, but also go well as a light snack or even a main course. Enjoy!

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