Growing up, ordering Chinese food was always reserved for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, the two nights out of the year when my mother didn’t want to go anywhere near the kitchen and when most restaurants closed early. We’d sit around our Christmas tree (and on New Years Eve- the television- to watch the ball drop in Times Square,) stuffing our faces with chicken fingers, pork-fried rice, beef teriyaki, etc. and then chow down on the leftovers the following day.
In my early twenties, ordering Chinese food, while still a family tradition, became synonymous with last call at the local bars. We’d place a pick-up order while we finished our final drinks for the night, walk downtown to pick up the food, and nine times out of ten- eat almost all of it while walking to whoever’s apartment we were crashing at for the night. Nothing hit the spot after a couple of whiskey sours than a heaping serving of chicken lo mein.
And now, a few years older, ordering Chinese food (still a Christmas Eve tradition at my mom’s house!) often results in me getting a stomach ache and asking myself how I was able to eat the gigantic portions of it like I did when I was a kid. The only thing that doesn’t seem to make me feel gross after mass consumption is crab rangoon, a long-standing favorite on any take-out menu.
Instead of shelling out money for an order of crab rangoon at one of the many Chinese food places by where I live, I decided to make my own this afternoon. To me, it’s a sort trial and error type of recipe to attempt- but they came out pretty good- if I do say so myself!
YOU WILL NEED:
* 1 Can of bulk crab meat
* 1/2 Brick/package of cream cheese (THIS CAN VARY. The last time these were made, only a small amount of cream cheese was added, and the result, while good- didn’t really taste like traditional rangoon. Depending on your preference, you can add more or less cream cheese. I prefer a little more.)
* 1 Package of won ton wraps (I found mine in the produce section at my local market)
* 1 1/2- 2 Cups of cooking oil
* 1/2 Freshly sliced lemon (or a teaspoon of lemon juice)
* 1 Egg – beaten
* A pastry brush
OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:
1. Using a bowl, thoroughly mix the can of bulk crab meat and the 1/2 brick of cream cheese. I find using a fork to mash the ingredients together is helpful. From there, squeeze the 1/2 of freshly sliced lemon over the crab meat and cream cheese (or add the teaspoon of lemon juice) and continue mixing. Add salt and pepper for seasoning.
2. In a pan, add the 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups of oil. Begin heating the oil on your stove top at medium/high.
3. While the oil is heating, lay out the won ton wraps out on a flat surface. Add a teaspoon of the crab/cream cheese/lemon juice mixture in the center of each wrap.
4. Using a pastry brush, dip the brush tip into your beaten egg, and sweep along each edge of the won ton wrap. This allows the edges to stick and stay together when you fold them, and prevents them from breaking apart when you cook them in the oil shortly.
5. Fold together each corner of the won ton wrapper, creating a pocket. By now, your oil should be hot and ready to use.
6. Carefully drop the pockets into the oil. They’ll immediately begin to sizzle as they cook. Using a spatula, you can turn the pockets over in the oil to make sure they’re crisping and browning evenly. Once they reach your desired level of crispiness, use the spatula to remove them from the oil.
7. Set your cooked pockets on folded paper towels to absorb excess oil and allow them to cool.
8. Enjoy! (Chopsticks optional.)
These tasted so delicious- even better than the ones I’ve had in take-out orders in the past. I think the next time my family gets together for the holidays, I’ll whip up a batch of these to switch up our tradition- just a little bit.