For the first time ever, I feel conflicted about posting a recipe. Almost exclusively, the recipes I develop are for foods that I love to eat and ones that reflect my cooking style as a whole. Crab Rangoon was a childhood favorite of most of my family members, ever present on the Chinese buffets we frequented and even something my mom made at home. But I was personally never a big fan. I guess I’m a purist when it comes to crab.
On the flip side, since writing The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, I’ve had literally hundreds of requests for a Crab Rangoon recipe. And while I’m hard-pressed to think of this as anything but an American recipe, I aim to please. Nothing could make me happier than providing a recipe for something so many people are missing. So here we go…
There’s a reason you can’t find gluten-free Crab Rangoon: wonton wrappers. As far as I know, it’s currently impossible to find pre-made gluten-free wonton wrappers. And that means you’ll have to make them yourself. It’s not hard, but it is time consuming. For the wontons, I use my Pot Sticker dough from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, upped in quantity by 50%. (Might as well make a lot, right?) The filling is a simple concoction of cream cheese, minced green onion, crab, salt, and a bit of tamari. I use fresh crab meat, purchased from the fish counter at my grocery store. You can use canned if you prefer–read the label first to make sure there’s no gluten–but use caution when buying imitation crab. Imitation crab (also called surimi) is basically a paste of ground fish bound together with a thickener, often wheat. It’s possible, though not particularly common, to find gluten-free versions thickened with tapioca or potato starch. Read the label carefully.
Once you’ve made the filling and the wrappers you have two choices: the easy way or the hard way. The easy way–tucking the wonton wrappers in a mini-muffin pan, adding the filling, and baking–is a perfectly tasty, though less traditional, little snack. The other option is deep frying. I’ll admit, the deep-fried version tastes slightly better and it’s certainly what you associate with Crab Rangoon. But BE CAREFUL! I have a fair amount of deep frying experience, and these little buggers were dangerous. Since the filling retains so much moisture, the tiniest hole or opening in the dough will cause them to explode–violently. If you choose this path, make sure the wontons are very well-sealed, watch the oil temperature, and turn them in the pan for even cooking. Your call. I’ve included photos of the various recipe stages (along with finished deep fried vs muffin tin versions) on my Facebook page if you want to take a peek.
Whichever method you choose, you’ll get the best results by rolling the dough as thin as you can while maintaining its ability to hold the filling without tearing. The directions seem involved, but I know you’ll get a sense for it once you start. Depending on whether you’re looking for a sweet, salty, or spicy experience, you can choose a dipping sauce based on that preference. I used Thai Kitchen’s Sweet Chili Sauce, which reminds me of a sweet-and-sour sauce (and with barely any heat), but you could use gluten-free tamari, Sriracha, or a hot chili oil. Good luck and enjoy! ~L