I’ve always thought of this vintage throwback as a weird amalgamation – crabmeat, cheese, water chestnuts and ginger all wrapped in a wonton and fried. Crazytalk! But altogether, it’s a delight – one that I first tried at the now closed tiki restaurant, Honolulu, that was right off the highway in Alexandria, Virginia.
Now, I find it hard to track down a good version from Chinese takeout places, and instead, make my own. If you love crab rangoon, but hate how many places use artificial crab meat, or worse, only cream cheese, then this is the recipe for you. Tender crab is perked up by sesame oil, ground ginger and the crunch of water chestnuts, with just enough cream cheese to bind it all together.
Probably the best part of this entire recipe is the dipping sauce – a simple combination of apricot preserves, rice wine vinegar and chili paste combine to make a zippy sweet chili sauce good enough to lick off your fingertips. Go ahead, I’m not watching.
Crab Rangoon with Sweet Chili Sauce
4 oz. of cream cheese, softened
4 oz. of fresh crab meat, shredded and picked of shells
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 tbs. of sesame oil
pinch of white pepper
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tbs. of finely chopped water chestnuts
1 tsp. of ground ginger
1 package won ton wrappers
vegetable oil for frying
4 tbs. of apricot jam
1 tbs. of rice wine vinegar
1 tbs. of chili paste
In a small bowl, mix the crab, soy, sesame oil, white pepper, green onion, garlic, water chestnuts and ginger.
Set up an assembly station with a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and lightly dusted with flour, along with a small bowl of water. On a clean surface, lay out a wonton wrapper and dot the middle with a teaspoon of crab filling. Wet the edge of the wrapper with water from the bowl and fold the wrapper diagonally to form a triangle, pressing out any air in the center. Place the wonton on the cookie sheet and continue process until you run out of filling.
In a frying pan with high sides, heat two inches of vegetable oil to 350°. Fry the wontons for a minute or so on each side, or until golden brown. Place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining wontons.
To make the dipping sauce, stir together the jam, vinegar and chili paste. Serve.