Cooking Lesson #293: Crab Rangoon
…from the California Kitchen & The Warehouse Restaurant
How you doin’? Allow me to share a story about my first restaurant, President Nixon and Crab Rangoon.
We received a phone call from the White House asking if we would close Warehouse Restaurant for about 2-hours on a Saturday so President Nixon could eat there with security. Exciting, right? Sure.
The Secret Service got into the kitchen even before our staff started for the day. They inspected every step of the preparation. Someone from the President’s staff had pre-selected the menu to be served to every guest—Dinner Salad, Crab Rangoon, Grilled Sirloin Steak with Loaded Baked Potatoes and a Frozen Ice Cream dessert.
The motorcade pulled up promptly at 8pm that Saturday night and everyone filed into the restaurant…. the President, followed by the Secretaries of State and Defense along with 30 other people. The President thanked me for the courtesy of closing the restaurant and told me that the Crab Rangoon was his favorite and very original. (See ChefSecret for the rest of the story.)
I probably should have told him that Crab Rangoon was on the menu of the famous Polynesian Restaurant Trader Vic's in San Francisco since at least 1956. Although the appetizer was allegedly derived from some authentic Burmese recipe, the dish was actually invented by Victor Bergeron, founder of Trader Vic's.
The filling is made with a mixture of cream cheese, crab meat or imitation krab meat, scallions or onion, garlic, and other flavorings. A small amount of the filling is wrapped in each wonton wrapper. The dumpling is then shaped by folding the wrapper over into a triangle, by creating a four-pointed star, by gathering it up into flower or purse shape, or by twisting it into the traditional wonton shape.
The dumplings are then deep-fried in vegetable oil until brown and crisp. They should be served warm with a sauce for dipping: soy sauce, plum or duck sauce, or sweet and sour sauce, with a dot of hot Chinese mustard. You can make these dumplings in advance of the festivities and freeze them on trays until party time. Everyone will love these bite-size, fried dumplings stuffed with crab fit for a president.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Fry time: 10 minutes
Yield: 10 servings
1 quart oil for frying
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh scallions
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 pound crab meat, shredded
1 (14 ounce) package small won ton wrappers
ChefSecret: Closing a new restaurant, even for a President, is very costly. The owner losses all the revenue for the evening and the servers lose all their tips. We were asked to send a bill to the White House; we did. The bill was never paid.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: Sign hanging in our test kitchen—"I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
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©Perspectives/The Consulting Group, Inc., 2021
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