Kosherize It

The Jewish Christmas tradition of Chinese food meets an iconic combination in Lox and Cream Cheese Rangoon.

Jewish Week Online Columnist
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For many people, Christmas conjures up thoughts of Santa Claus, mistletoe and eggnog. If you’re Jewish, however, Christmas probably makes you think of Chinese food.

It’s a generations-old American-Jewish practice that for many has taken on the aspect of a religious ritual. On Christmas Day (or Eve, depending on your rite), the family loads into the station wagon (or subway or tandem bicycle) and heads to their local Chinese place, for dumplings, low mein, bok choy and fortune cookies. But if you keep kosher, or even kosher-style, your plate is most likely lacking the classic Chinese-American treat, Crab Rangoon.

According to legend, these crab-and-cream-cheese-stuffed wontons originated in San Francisco, at the iconic Polynesian-style restaurant Trader Vic’s. They caught on at cocktail parties and today they’re a staple at Chinese restaurants in America.

To kosherize the Rangoon filling, I’ve replaced the crab with a combination of salty, chopped lox with rich cream cheese and spiked the whole thing with chives and black pepper. It can take a little while to fold all 50 wonton wrappers, but once you’ve folded up all of these little dumplings you can either cook them, or freeze them uncooked and just pull them out of the freezer as needed.


 

Ingredients: 
6 ounces refrigerated smoked salmon, chopped
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, brought to room temperature
1 handful chives, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 package of square wonton wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying
Bottled sweet-and-sour sauce, for serving
Recipe Steps: 
Combine the smoked salmon, cream cheese, chives and ground pepper in a mixing bowl.
Lay a wonton wrapper on a clean, lightly-floured surface and place about a teaspoon of the salmon mixture in the middle of the wonton skin.
Dip a clean finger or pastry brush into a small bowl of water and gently wet the edges.
Gently pinch the corners together to form a point and seal the edges to seal in the filling. Repeat with remaining ingredients until finished and set the assembled Rangoon on a clean plate.
If you aren’t planning on using the Rangoon immediately, arrange them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and freeze them until hard (at least 2 hours). Transfer them to zip-top bags and keep until needed (up to 3 months).
Heat about 2” vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan or pot until it reaches 325 degrees Farenheit.
Working in batches, fry the Rangoon for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Serve warm or room temperature, with sweet-and-sour sauce for dipping, if desired. Makes about 50 Rangoon.