Ringing in the Year of the Pig with Crab Rangoon and other old favorites.

February 18, 2007


Happy New Year! (Any excuse for revelry is OK by us – especially if you can wish folks a happy new year twice within months.) For the Chinese, and many other Asian cultures, today is the first day of the lunar calendar. In some parts of the world, this occasion will be met with great fanfare and festivity. Personally, we feasted on Peking Duck with friends last night. And this morning, we offer some more festive dishes: A few old favorites and a new one, Crab Rangoon.

OK, we admit it, crab rangoon is not a traditional dish. It’s likely unrecognizable to any devotee to Chinese food. Like meatballs to Italian-Americans, crab rangoon is a derivative dish that probably seeks to satisfy American palettes more than others (um, cream cheese, anyone?). And we further bastardized it by putting a spicy twist on it.

So why choose an inauthentic dish on this day? Because it’s a crowd pleaser – and if you don’t have crowds to please today, you may tomorrow or perhaps next Thursday. If you are looking for other dishes to make to celebrate the day, or at least add a bit of Asian flavor to your table, we also offer you a trio of our favorite old recipes.


Sui Mai: This is a classic dim sum dish and Wife’s favorite. They’re dumplings filled with pork and shrimp.


Potstickers: A family favorite filled with the intense flavors of beef, ginger and soy.


Char Sui Bao: Our take on another classic dim sum dish. Filled with sweet pork swaddled in steamed bread, it’s truly delicious.

Click here to download the recipe for Crab Rangoon.


Spicy Crab Rangoon
: 2 dozen
2 dozen wonton skins

1 6 oz can canned crab meat
4 oz cream cheese (half a brick) (room temperature)
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flake

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1 inch segment ginger (diced)

Oil to fry (e.g. peanut, safflower, canola and vegetable oil)
Egg wash (1 egg with 2 tablespoons of water)

(NOTE: We like the spicy flavor of these crab rangoons, but found that the sweet ginger dipping sauce was essential to round out the taste of the dumplings. So, don’t skip the dipping sauce. Or, if you don’t want to be bothered, drizzle some honey over the top of your dumplings – or perhaps sprinkle with sugar as they exit the oil. Or, um, just make the dipping sauce.)

1. Making the filling. In a medium-size bowl, add all the ingredients together and stir until completely integrated. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready.

2. In another bowl, add the ingredients for the sauce. Whisk together, cover and keep refrigerated.

3. Time to do some construction. Lay out your wontons and scoop between 1/2 to 1 tsp. of mix in the center of each one. It is important not to overfill the skins. Using a pastry brush or similar tool, very lightly brush the egg wash on the edges of the wonton skins. To make the shape, you want to press the center of each side to each other and squeeze. You can straighten the arms once done and form the flower shape. Place on parchment paper or silpat, until ready to fry.

4. In large heavy pot over high heat, add oil. Heat until reaches 360F. Add about 4 to 5 wontons to the pot. Cook for about 3-4 min or until the skins become golden brown. Remove to a tray covered with paper towels or newspaper to drain. Let cool for about 5 min. Serve hot with dipping sauce. Enjoy.


  1. Crab Rangoon was popular in the New Jersey Chinese restaurants near my college. I could never understand the cream cheese thing, as it is so not Chinese! However, the point of the holiday is to celebrate, and do that with foods that will bring pleasure to those with whom you share your table. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  2. I promise to try these some day. Soon, I hope.

    My inner response whenever I come over here is always the same: Oh. My. Gosh.

  3. what a great tapas style menu….We love it! I’ve been too sick to cook this weekend, which was our anniversary. The only thing I made was a huge batch of beer cheese soup. Not only was it creamy for my sore throat, all the dairy helped counter the side effects of the antibiotics:)

    Think I’ll pull together a greek menu this weekend.

  4. oh my goodness, you must have been reading my mind! On new year’s yesterday, my family and I went to our favorite local dim sum hang out and had potstickers, pork sui mai, char siu buns and other tasty tidbits. we always get crab rangoons when we get Chinese take out; our favorites have a hint of sweetness and with the red dipping sauce, we treat it like dessert. Yummy!

  5. Darn, I wasn’t hungry till I saw this blog! Great pics by the way.

  6. I clearly spent the Lunar New Year in the wrong place!

  7. Oh man, my husband and I should have been at your house to celebrate the new year!

  8. Wow, I’m impressed. Dim sum is delicious, but not usually homecooking at my house. Now all you need is a steam cart and you are good to go–authentic Cantonese style service to match the wonderful food.
    PS. Our new favorite dim sum is a shrimp ball covered with noodles and then deep-fried–do you think you can figure out how to replicate this one?

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