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Crab Rangoons are a classic appetizer staple of the Americanized Chinese standard food offering and are truly one of my favorites. However, like most everything else, the homemade version far exceeds what the delivery man might bring to your door. Plus, who really needs a vat of random neon pink syrup on the side? Grab a group of friends and experience what a true Crab Rangoon is really all about!
For the Crab Rangoons
- 8oz. fresh crab meat
- 12oz. cream cheese
- 3 scallions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 40 Wanton Wrappers
- An egg
- Oil for Frying
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 scallions
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- The juice of a lemon
- The zest of a lemon
For the Dipping Sauce
1. Start by making the dipping sauce for the Crab Rangoons. (Note: This is also a good time to set out the cream cheese to allow it soften and make it easier to mix later.) Use a microplane to zest an entire lemon and allow the zest to fall onto a cutting board. When you’ve gotten all of the zest from the lemon, run your knife through it a few times to make sure there aren’t any long pieces. Using the same microplane, grate a clove of garlic and a little bit of peeled, fresh ginger, enough to produce a ½ teaspoon. Transfer the lemon zest and grated garlic and ginger to a mixing bowl.
2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the same mixing bowl using a fine mesh strainer or your hand to catch the seeds. Slice the three scallions into thin slivers and add to the mixing bowl along with the soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Mix thoroughly and then set aside to allow the flavors to develop. The dipping sauce can be a bit tart at first but it mellows out nicely within an hour, so try to make the sauce a little bit ahead of time for optimal results.
3. Now it’s time to make the filling for the Crab Rangoons. Using the same microplane from before, grate two more cloves of garlic and put into a separate, clean mixing bowl. Cut three more scallions into slivers and add to the mixing bowl along with the cream cheese, soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper. Mix thoroughly and check to see if additional salt is needed. I recommend mixing all of these ingredients before adding the crab so that you don’t completely shred the crab when you mix it in.
4. Speaking of the crab, drain the crabmeat into a fine mesh sieve over the sink and run your finger through the meat to check for any pieces of shell. Lightly rinse the crabmeat and allow it to drain briefly before adding to the bowl. Fold the crab into the cream cheese mixture until it is thoroughly combined.
5. Crack an egg into a small bowl and add a tablespoon of water. Scramble the egg with a fork and grab a basting brush. It’s now time to setup your Crab Rangoon assembly station. Set out baking sheet to hold the rangoons as you make them and grab a dampened paper towel to cover them so that they’ll stay fresh while you make the full batch. Similar to the finished rangoons, you’ll want to keep your wonton wrappers covered under a damp paper towel as well to keep them malleable as you are making them and not dry out and get brittle. Now that your station is setup, it’s time to make a bunch of crab rangoons!
6. There are two ways to make a rangoon, each with their own risk/reward ratio. The easiest way to do it is the fold the wonton wrapper diagonally to create triangle-shaped pockets. If this is your first time making rangoons, I would absolutely recommend starting this way. If your rangoons are not properly sealed, the filling will spill out into the fry oil and gunk things up really quickly, possibly requiring you to use fresh oil. However, if you’re up for the challenge and crave the crispy part of the wonton just as much as the crab filling like I do, I would recommend pinching together the middle of each side of the wonton wrapper in the center to create little pockets with the four corners sealed separately. See the image above for reference. Doing it this way creates crispy “handles” to tear apart and use to dip the rangoon into the sauce. It balances out the texture to give a nice crunch. For the sake of simplicity, though, I will describe how to make the triangle version.
7. Place a wonton wrapper in front of you on a cutting board or clean countertop. Lightly brush the egg wash around the border of the wrapper. Scoop a light tablespoon of the crab filling into the center of the wrapper. Fold a corner of the wonton diagonally across to create a triangle-shaped pocket. It is important to squeeze out as much air from the rangoon as possible and then thoroughly seal the seam along the edges. This will keep the air from forcing its way out during the fry and possibly bursting the filling out into the oil or filling the rangoon itself with hot oil. The egg wash will help keep the rangoons sealed, but it’s important to run your finger across the seams to be doubly sure. Transfer the assembled rangoon to the baking sheet and cover loosely with the damp paper towel. Repeat this process until you run out of wrappers or filling, or both. You should get around 30 – 40 rangoons depending on how much you fill them.
8. When you’ve finished assembling all of the rangoons, heat a quart of oil in a dutch oven over high heat until it registers 350 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Fry the rangoons in batches of 12 or 13 rangoons at a time for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer the crab rangoons from the oil to a papertowel-lined plate using a metal slotted spoon or a spider. Allow the oil to recover to 350 degrees between batches and continue to fry the rangoons until they’re all done. You can keep the finished rangoons warm in a 200 degree oven or just keep them near the stove.
9. When you’ve finished frying them, assemble the rangoons onto a serving platter and pour the dipping sauce into a few ramekins (double-dipping is encouraged). Make sure to eat it while it’s hot!