If you’ve had dinner out at a Chinese or Thai restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ve tried Crab Rangoon. At the very least you’ve seen it on the menu. The recipe is believed to have been created in the 50s at San Francisco’s Trader Vic’s restaurant and is likely to have been an adaptation of fried wontons – a famous Cantonese dish.
The dish combines cream cheese, crab meat, scallions, garlic and other seasonings in a wonton wrapper and is typically deep-fried in vegetable oil. It is often served with sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce or Chinese mustard.
For this recipe, Jeremy Smith of “Lindner’s Angling Edge” takes the dish in an unexpected, but delicious, direction, swapping out the crab with some freshly caught catfish.
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh catfish
- 5-6 ounces cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon serrano pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons green onion
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 3-4 tablespoons grilled sweet corn
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cajun seasoning
- Wonton wrappers
Avocado Dipping Sauce Ingredients
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/4 serrano pepper
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1 lime
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For this recipe, the very first thing you need to do is grill an ear of sweet corn. Grilling corn is easy and adds a smoky depth to the corn. It’s wonderful! Begin by soaking the corn (husk on) in water for 15-20 minutes. Then, place the corn directly onto a grill that’s been heated to 450 degrees. Grill the corn for approximately 20 minutes, turning occasionally. When the husks are nicely charred, remove the ear of corn and let it cool until it is safe to handle. After shucking the corn, use a knife to remove the kernels and set aside in a bowl.
With the corn prepared, you can now make the cream cheese filling. Begin by placing the cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl, allowing it to soften. Next, chop the green onion into very small pieces, using both the white and green parts of the vegetable, and place into the bowl with the cream cheese. Do the same thing with the serrano pepper. Chop finely, remove the seeds and add to the bowl.
Then, with a knife or garlic press, mince one medium-sized clove of garlic. Mix all the ingredients together, adding salt and pepper to taste. When everything is thoroughly combined, fold in the grilled corn.
Next, it’s time to prepare the fish. Begin by removing the mud line (also known as the blood line) with a knife. In case you’re wondering, the mud line is a blood-rich muscle that runs through the center of many larger-sized fish. While not unsafe to eat, it does tend to have a strong fishy taste. And who wants fish to taste fishy, right?
With the mud line removed, cut your catfish fillet into cubes small enough to fit inside the wontons. Once you have your catfish cut into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle a little Cajun seasoning on the top.
Next, place one of your store-bought wonton wrappers on a cutting board or clean countertop and place a spoonful of the cream cheese filling in the center followed by a piece of catfish on top. Be sure not to add too much filling as it could cause the wonton to split open while cooking.
Then, using your finger, moisten all four edges of the wonton with water. Form the wonton by bringing all four corners of the wrapper together and pinch to form a seal. Repeat this until you run out of fish. Next, place your assembled wontons on a plate and place in the fridge to chill.
With your wontons chilling, it’s time to make the dipping sauce. Begin by cutting an avocado in half and removing the pit. Scoop out the contents of both halves and place into a food processor. Next, add a 1/4 cup of roughly chopped cilantro and 1/4 of a serrano pepper, also roughly chopped. Add the juice of one lime, 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. With all the ingredients in your food processor, mix everything together. Once completed, put the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Now, it’s time to fry your wontons. In a medium-sized skillet, add enough vegetable oil for deep-frying. Heat the pan until the oil has reached 350 degrees. Without crowding the pan, cook the wontons for approximately 3-5 minutes, flipping them once so that they cook evenly. Carefully remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack with a layer of paper towels underneath to catch some of the excess oil.
What you do next is up to you. You can place the wontons on a serving tray with the dipping sauce in the center to impress your guests or you can skip the pomp and circumstance and dig in right at the kitchen counter. Either way, it’s very likely that catfish wontons are going to become a new favorite in your home.
For more great recipes by some of the world’s foremost anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, search “Cook Your Catch” in the Mercury Dockline Blog.