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The Wonton Wrapper Bug Bites Chicagoist, And Hard

By Caroline Clough in Food on Jun 29, 2007 8:21PM


Chicagoist was recently bitten by the wonton wrapper bug. It's a little known insect that causes human beings to go crazy with experimentation in regards to wonton wrappers ... we guess you could probably have figured that out from its name but sometimes (often) we like to point out the obvious. This bug must have bitten us a few times because we couldn't stop thinking about all the things we could put in wrappers and fry or steam up. For this post we've limited ourselves to two complimentary (in ingredients and flavors) dishes: crab wontons and crab rangoon pockets. We think they look pretty impressive to the average eater without being all that difficult or time consuming to make. Why don't you give it a try ... and if you don't like crab, well, there are a million other things you could fill these wrappers with. The bug bites indiscrimately, so watch out.

A few of the recipes we consulted suggested adding bamboo shoots and dried mushrooms into the wonton mix. We abstained but that gives you just a bit of an idea of the ways you can personalize either of the recipes below. We split a half pound can of lump crab meat in half and made equal portions of wontons and Rangoon pockets. The recipes are for this split. Obviously if you're interested in one but not the other you should double all ingredients accordingly.

What You Need:

1 package Nasoya wonton wrappers (or any brand, we would think)
1 half pound can of lump crab meat
1 wok or small sauce pan
1 steam basket or other steam friendly kitchen gadget
1 large boiling pot
1 small pastry brush

For the wontons:
4 oz crabmeat
¼ cup green onions
2 teaspoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon rice vinegar

For the Rangoon pockets:
4 oz crabmeat
4-6 oz cream cheese (this depends on how creamalicious you want your pockets)
3-6 tablespoons wasabi paste (this depends on how spicy you would like your pockets)
½ teaspoon salt
1 liberal dash Worcestshire sauce
½ cup sesame oil (for frying)

For possible dipping sauce:
Additional soy sauce
Mongolian fire oil (or other hot sauce)
Chili pepper flakes
Simple syrup (sugar water)

What You Do:

The first few steps are the same for both dish. The difference comes in how you cook them.

1. Mix your ingredients together in a small bowl. Put in the refrigerator and let mingle for about twenty minutes.

2. Put a small amount of water or gently scrambled egg whites in a small bowl and keep nearby.

3. On a clean, smooth surface create your wonton workspace.

4. One at a time (unless you have four hands) lay out the wrappers and put a heaping teaspoon in the center of the square. Do not attempt to overfill…it will get messy and you will be royally disappointed.

5. Brush a small amount of water (or egg white) onto the edges of the wrapper. Don't let it get too wet. Then fold one corner to its opposite, sealing the edges with your fingers.

6. Bring the corners on the long side of your triangle together. You may need to moisten the corners a bit more. You can then leave the other point of the triangle alone or you can do what we did: bring that third point up to the first two, moisten and gently twist. If you're doubling this recipe or you find it's taking you a while to make each wonton/pocket moisten a paper towel and place it over the ones you have made so that they don't dry out and unseal themselves.

For The Cooking of The Wontons:

1. In your large boiling pot put about two or three inches of water and the steam basket. You want enough water that it won't evaporate too quickly but not enough that it covers the basket. Make sure to spray the basket (or what have you) with Pam or some other non-stick wonder ingredient, if you don't there's a good possibility that when the time comes to take your babies out of the pot, their bottoms (and all the crabby goodness) will fall out. Bring water to a gentle boil.

2. Place your wontons on the steam basket and cover the pot.

3. Cook for about three minutes at full steam (ha).

4. Take out and serve as soon as possible.

For The Cooking of The Rangoon Pockets:

You have the choice of pan/wok frying or deep frying. We, personally, went with deep frying.

1. Put about a cup of sesame oil in a small sauce pan so that you have about three or four inches of oil. Bring to medium to high heat. You want the oil hot enough that if you put a bit of flour in it, it would sizzle but not smoke.

2. Using a slotted spoon, gently place your pockets into the oil. Do not crowd them, they will easily stick to one another and that will result in a hot oily mess.

3. Fry about one minute to a side … maybe less if your oil is really hot.

4. Remove pockets from oil and place on a paper towel to soak any excess oil before placing on your serving platter. Serve immediately for full crisp/cheesy yummy-ness.

Each recipe will yield approximately 20-30 individual bites.

We served the Rangoon pockets with a one to one ratio of soy sauce and simple syrup. We served the wontons with a one to one to one ratio of soy sauce, Mongolian fire oil and chili pepper flakes. You could also make a wasabi soy dipping sauce or simply take advantage of the almost endless supply of dipping sauces found in your local Asian grocery store.