They’re about as Asian as a fortune cookie…or Emma Stone in “Aloha”…but I can’t contemplate getting Thai or Chinese food delivered without an order, or three, of these crispy, creamy fried dumplings. Much like pizza and sex, even a bad rangoon is still pretty good, but I think we can agree that too often the “crab” is more a catch phrase than an ingredient, as in maybe they were simply made by a particularly grumpy sous chef that day.
The idea for this dish came to me a few years ago when I was feeling inexplicably clever and was “deconstructing” anything with more than 2 ingredients…which to be honest, simply meant I wanted to take something fried and/or labor intensive and make it easier and less messy to prepare. That first time I did fry up strips of wonton and serve them with a dollop of the dip on each one, but the kitchen stunk for a week so I promptly decided to find a different route to Rangoon. I eventually landed on rice crackers as the preferred cream cheese delivery system — they were a quick fix during a cocktail party where some guests had gluten issues (and yes, my soy sauce was wheat-free) — but the harmonious simplicity stuck and the rest is tasty, tasty history. The dip itself, like most of my recipes, is ready for you to play with and get creative. Add more or less sriracha or sesame oil, toss in some sesame seeds or cilantro. If you have a can open, I love to chop up some water chestnuts for even more texture and crunch. Serve room temperature or hot in one of those buffet-ready mini crockpots. However this crab rangoon dip goes over your teeth and over your gums, I hope your tummy needs no warning except to enjoy when it comes.
2 8-ounce packages light cream cheese
1/3 cup carrot, finely diced
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1/3 cup scallion, finely diced
2 ½ teaspoons low-sodium or naturally fermented soy sauce, be sure to check the label if wanting to make this gluten free.
1-2 tablespoons water or milk
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sriracha
Pinches of salt and pepper
8 ounces crab meat (use whatever type is in your budget)
Rice crackers and cut-up veggie spears for dipping
Extra scallions to garnish
- Place the light cream cheese (and sesame oil if you refrigerate yours) on the counter about 30 minutes before ready to make the dip so that it can come to room temperature. Alternatively, in a microwave-safe bowl, heat cream cheese on high for 10-second intervals, stirring after each zap, until softened and smooth.
- Prep the veggies. I get both the veggies for the dip and for serving out of the way at the same time.
- Combine the light cream cheese with all the ingredients except the crab, until well mixed. Start with 1 tablespoon of water or milk first, then add more if you would like a thinner consistency.
- Gently fold in the crab so as to minimize breaking up any lumps or whole pieces.
- Cover and chill for an hour or more to let the flavors mix and mingle.
- When ready to serve, let the dip come to room temperature (or serve hot) alongside the crackers and veggies, garnish with sliced scallions and nosh!