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    Friday, July 19, 2024

    Kute and Krabby: Crab Rangoon Rolls

    One of the tricks to successful Crab Rangoon Rolls is unrolling the imitation crab rolls into a sheet.
    There’s just more to love with a mega-sized Crab Rangoon Roll.

    After the last two months of writing about my bouts of COVID and food poisoning, I’m suddenly struck dumb with Spring Fever. This was triggered by a few environmental factors: a few days with temps above 50°F, sunsets after 5:30 p.m., the smell of new green growth from the lawns and woods around Waterford. Boom! Once that switch gets flipped in my brain, I once again transform into an indoor/outdoor cat till about mid-November. Today was a particularly gorgeous Sunday — sunny and sweet, hitting 65°F. Hello, March peep frogs. Goodbye, Februrary; don’t let the door hit you on the ice.

    As promised in the last column, I’m reporting back on my tests with Crab Rangoon Rolls. The idea came out of nowhere. I was in NYC, sitting on a friend’s couch. I wasn’t hungry. Wasn’t in the middle of ordering or eating Chinese food. But the question popped into my frontal cortex: “Crab Rangoon are so good, why don’t they make bigger ones in egg roll wrappers?” (The answer didn’t come until I was actually frying them.) And also, why don’t they have a lot more crab (or krab, as the imitation pollock-based stuff is affectionately known)?

    I started out by reviewing dozens of Crab Rangoon recipes online only to find that the everyone takes lots of liberties with the fillings. The basic ingredients are cream cheese and imitation crab, but they mutate wildly from there. I wanted something like the local Chinese takeout would make. No, they don’t use real crab; this is supposed to be an inexpensive appetizer. I’m pretty sure Sizzling Wok isn’t adding sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, ginger or sesame oil. Also, they can’t be baked or air fried. That’s cultural appropriation wrapped in a thin veneer of cultural depreciation.

    Did you know that each of the imitation crab legs is actually a rolled up sheet of fish? To add more crab to the filling, I unrolled the legs and laid them on top of each egg roll wrapper and then placed two tablespoons of the filling on top of that and then rolled them up (see photo).

    In all the practice of making these rolls, I think I figured out why the Chinese restaurants don’t make mega-sized rangoons. The filling is so wet that steam builds up inside and the wrapper can split. I remedied this by placing the completed rolls into the freezer for 15 minutes to drop the temperature. In doing that and limiting the fry time to three minutes, I eliminated the problem of split wrappers and leaky filling.

    Crab Rangoon Rolls

    14 oz package of imitation crab, leg style

    8 oz package of cream cheese, softened

    2 Tbsp fresh chopped chives or green onion

    1 tsp sugar

    2 tsp soy sauce

    1/4 tsp white pepper

    1 package of fresh egg roll wrappers (you’ll use 12)

    4 cups neutral oil (canola or peanut)

    Unroll a dozen of the imitation crab legs into flat sheets and place them in a covered container in the fridge while you make the cream cheese filling. Mince the remaining legs into small pieces.

    In a bowl, combine the softened cream cheese with the chives, sugar, soy sauce and white pepper with a fork. Add the chopped crab pieces and stir till the filling is fully combined. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the rolls.

    On a cutting board, place a small cup of water to wet your fingers for sealing the wrappers. Lay out an egg roll wrapper with the top point facing north. Lay a sheet of the unrolled crab leg on top of the wrapper towards the south point of the wrapper (see photo). Lay a 2 Tbsp scoop of cream cheese filling on top of the crab layer and spread it from east to west. Take the south tip of the wrapper and start to roll it up and over the filling. Take the east and west points and fold them towards the center of the wrapper. Wet your fingers in the cup of water and moisten the north point of the wrapper and then roll it up completely to seal it. Set completed roll aside on a plate and repeat for the remaining 11 rolls. Place the plate of rolls into the freezer for 15 minutes, no more.

    In a medium saucepan, add the four cups of oil and heat over medium heat till the oil reaches 350°F. Add the rolls to the oil three at a time and fry for 3 minutes, until they are a light golden brown. Remove and drain the rolls on a rack. Serve warm with duck sauce, soy sauce or Thai chili sauce and enjoy.

    Upcoming and Ongoing

    I know, I know, winter isn’t officially over. But my garden prep for the spring has begun in earnest. Got seed trays started with a few new fruits and veggies for the garden this year:

    Parisian Pickles, aka Parisienne Cornichon de Bourbonne. Switching it up a bit this year for my lemon thyme pickles. These can grow to 6“ long, but they recommend harvesting them when they are about the size of a ”child’s finger“ for making cornichon pickles. Which makes them a little more manageable than any of the standard cukes I’ve grown. If I missed a couple days of harvesting, there were seedy cukes the size of a child’s arm hanging off the vines.

    Pretty N Sweet Peppers; an ornamental mini sweet pepper strain that grows in red, yellow, orange and purple. Only about 1.5“ long, a healthy plant can sport 100 peppers! If they deliver as promised, these will be amazing for salads, stir fries and pickling.

    Filderkraut Cabbage, a German heirloom variety that is shaped like a 2-foot-tall conehead. Because everyone needs something in their garden that makes people say, “What the hell is that?”

    Bradford Watermelons, another heirloom plant, date back to the 1840s in South Carolina. I bought these seeds on a whim after watching a YouTube video. They are supposedly incredibly sweet with a thinner rind. But will they grow well in New England?

    Last fall, I left a half dozen golden beets growing in a treated straw bale at the far end of my garden. They made it through the winter! The leafy tops are still green and it’ll be interesting to see if they actually go a full year and produce the elusive beets I’m looking for.

    Rich Swanson is a local cook who has had numerous wins in nationally sponsored recipe contests. He is also the layout specialist here at The Day.

    Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Rich Swanson can be reached at TheSurlyTable@gmail.com.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.