I called this an appetizer in the post title today but honestly, I could eat these delicious little delights for breakfast, lunch and dinner! We had a fun and memorable dinner with our dear friends, Joel and Karen, a few months ago. Having lived in Japan for a number of years, the meal was quite authentically Asian in every aspect; from the greeting at the door (in kimonos!) to the ikebana (traditional Japanese flower arranging) to the incredibly delicious five course dinner. Karen and Joel served three separate appetizers (oh my!) and although they all were wonderful, these Crab Rangoons were just the creme de la creme! Well, I thought they were Crab Rangoons…………………. but I’ll let Karen tell you the rest of the story……………….
This delicious, crowd pleasing recipe brings back a variety of memories for me. I got it from a friend some 25 years ago in Florida. My friend, a true Southern girl, shared this recipe for Cotton Blossoms she received from her aunt in Alabama. I think the name reflects the recipe’s Southern roots. If you look at the shape you will see they are like an unopened blossom with the “cotton” filling soon to burst forth with the first bite.
After falling in love with this recipe I was blessed to spend three years living in Japan. What we call Japanese food here in the States is very different from what you get in the local Japanese restaurant. While in Japan I tried soooo many strange foods, some good, many not so good. Even pizza might be topped with octopus and corn or perhaps something even more strange.
Upon returning stateside I wanted to entertain in Japanese style with the plethora of dishes I had bought. However, my friends had not acquired a palate for the authentic Japanese recipes I had gathered. I needed to find some American (or “gaijin” as the Japanese would call us) friendly recipes to serve. After visiting a Chinese buffet I realized that the Crab Rangoons they were serving were similar to my old Cotton Blossom recipe.
I now serve these often with my other “gaijin” friendly items and call them Crab Rangoons so friends will recognize them, but they will always be Cotton Blossoms to me. They can certainly be incorporated with any menu as an appetizer. One taste of these Cotton Blossoms and you will never eat Crab Rangoons from the buffet again!
The tricky part to this recipe is the frying process. You must stay with them while cooking and flip them over quickly so that it browns on both sides. Take them out as soon as they start to color. If you leave them too long they will burst open and loose that delicious filling. The tasty filling and dipping sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days so only wrap and fry what you need and enjoy the rest another time.
Cotton Blossoms / Crab Rangoons
1 small can white crab meat
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounce cream cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 package wonton wrappers
Mix first four ingredients until creamy. Use 1-2 teaspoons of mix per wrappers to taste. Put mixture in the center of a wrapper and moisten all four edges with water. Bring all four corners up to the center to meet. Seal with your fingers at the top and all edges. Deep fry.
I use a deep fryer but you can also use a deep frying pan. Peanut oil works the best for frying because it will tolerate high temperatures without smoking but anything you like is fine. Use an oil temperature of 350 degrees.
Apricot Dipping Sauce
1 – 10 ounce jar of apricot preserves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter
Mix and heat.