Fragrant, meaty crab tossed in silky cream cheese sealed in a wonton wrapper and fried until golden brown. When my grandparents immigrated to America, they opened a takeout restaurant that specialized in Chinese food. However, their dishes were not exactly traditionally Chinese but a blend of Chinese and American culinary influences, tailored to suit American tastes. This crab rangoon recipe embodies the journey of my grandparents to America, reflecting the adjustments they made to adapt to a new culture and language. Crab rangoon stands as an example of a very easy recipe due to it’s adaptability, perfectly symbolizing the beautiful things that can come from diversity.
What is crab rangoon?
Crab rangoon is kind of like a deep fried dumpling with a very tasty and savory filling inside. The filling can be made with imitation crab or real crab, mixed with cream cheese and some seasonings for flavor. The filling is packaged in a wonton wrapper before it is deep fried. It’s very creamy and crunchy. It can be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer. It’s easy to eat with your fingers making it great for large parties.
What does crab rangoon taste like?
Crab rangoon is such a unique dish. It combines a crispy texture with a creamy, savory filling. The flavors are a perfect blend of the richness of full-fat cream cheese, the subtle taste of real crab, fresh minced scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, and a touch of salt and pepper. It is best served dipped in an authentic sweet Thai chili sauce for a savory and sweet combo. The flavors of of the crab meat, garlic, and onion powders shine in this dish. However, since we’re using dry spices, the aromatics are prominent but mellow enough to make this dish a sociable food.
Why This Works
Making crab rangoon is super easy! You mix the ingredients to form the filling, fold the wonton, and then cook the wontons in hot oil. The filling you put inside can be adjusted to taste however you like, so it’s a really hard recipe to mess up. Rangoons are quite like dumplings, but they’re made using a different kind of skin called a wonton wrapper. You can fold them into all sorts of shapes, but I find simple triangles to be the easiest and most time effective. If you like this recipe, you have to check out my Wontons with Spicy Chili Oil, Wonton Soup with Pork and Shrimp, Shumai (Shaomai, Siumai), Chicken Dumplings, or Thai Crab Fried Rice.
What are wonton wrappers?
Sometimes, making food from scratch is way better than buying it from the store premade, but this rule does not apply to everything especially wonton wrappers. Opting for the convenience of pre-made wonton wrappers ones allows for a more efficient preparation process without compromising on taste. Additionally, they are ultra thin and uniform which could be difficult to achieve at home. Wonton wrappers are readily available at both American and Chinese grocery stores. They also and at an affordable price. They typically cost around $2.99 USD for a pack containing 50 pieces.
It’s important to keep in mind that some Chinese grocery stores may offer more options such: round, square, Shanghai, or Hong Kong style. Sometimes, online asian grocery retailers may sell frozen wonton skins. If you can, it’s better to get fresh ones from a Chinese grocery store. That’s because when frozen, they might dry out and break due to the water content. Also as you assemble the wontons, keep the remaining wrappers sealed with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out which can happen rapidly. For crab rangoon, any off-white wonton wrapper can work. The choice between round or square wonton wrappers is flexible, as any shape works well when the filling is sealed securely.
What type of crab meat do I need?
Both real and imitation crab meat are great options for crab rangoon. Real crab meat tends to be pricier, less sweet, and offers a more robust seafood flavor, while imitation crab provides a sweeter and milder taste. I’m using a container of fresh lump crab meat. It’s made from broken pieces of jumbo lump and special crab meat, and it’s already shredded, which makes it easy to use in dishes like crab cakes, dips, salads, and casseroles.
What is imitation crab meat?
You’ve probably tasted imitation crab in dishes like California rolls or a kani salad. It’s made from a fish paste that’s shaped like a log to look like a crab leg. They use fish like pollock and mix it with things like starches, egg white, sugar, and special flavors to make it taste like crab. They also use colors to make it pink and resemble the crab leg. These typically come wrapped in a thin layer of plastic that should be discarded before use, it is used to keep the imitation crab separated. The imitation crab is easy to pull apart and shred as needed.
What are some other variations of crab rangoon?
The seasonings can be adjusted to personal preferences, allowing for the substitution of powders with fresh aromatics or the addition of minced jalapeños for a spicy kick. To extend the crab flavor further, a 2:1 cream cheese to crab ratio can be used.
What is sweet Thai chili sauce?
Sweet Thai chili sauce was a staple on our dinner table growing up. We mostly used it as a dip for our homemade egg rolls. In our family, we only bought Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce. It is made with sugar, water, red chilli peppers, vinegar, garlic, salt, and xanthan gum. The real thing should be imported from Thailand. It’s slightly thick, sticky, and clear, and it shines with a vibrant red color, with tiny red chili pepper pieces in it. When you pour it, it looks like syrup. It’s a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and has a yummy savory taste.
Can I make wontons in advance?
For the best texture, wrap and cook the wontons right before you’re ready to enjoy them! It’s important to be mindful that the longer uncooked wontons are kept in the refrigerator, the higher the chance they may become soggy or the wrappers might dry out. Soggy wontons, if fried, will break and may impart their flavor into the oil, resulting in a bland taste. Freezing crab rangoon wontons after shaping them is possible however, it’s important to store them in an airtight container that prevents freezer burn.
- 1 Microwave Safe Mixing Bowl
- 1 Spatula
- 1 3 Qt Sauce Pot
- 1 Cooking Thermometer
- 1 Slotted Spoon or Sieve
- Paper Towels for draining
- 1 Small Ramekin for water
- 4 oz crab meat shredded
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 stalk scallions minced
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 24 wonton wrappers
- 1 pint neutral oil for frying
- Mix crab meat, garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce, minced scallions, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Toss well, then add the cream cheese.
- Microwave the bowl for 30 seconds.
- Blend until well combined.
- Add oil to a small pot and heat over low heat until it reaches 250°F / 121°C.
- Hold a wonton wrapper with one hand, and wet the edges with water. Add 2 teaspoons of filling to the center. Fold the wonton into a triangle shape, sealing both long edges tightly.
- Alternatively, fold all four corners into a triangle. This shape creates handles, but can hold slightly less filling than the triangle shape. Repeat.
- Once the oil reaches comes up to full temperature, carefully add no more than six wontons at a time.
- Fry until they turn golden brown for a crispy texture; if they remain pale, they won’t achieve the desired crunch.
- Drain the fried wontons on a paper towel-lined plate and serve them warm with authentic sweet chili sauce.