“What’s good enough for you is good enough for me”
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When I decided on the musical inspiration for this recipe, I wrestled with whether it was more about Cyndi Lauper or the ’80s phenomenon of what I call “Mixtape Soundtracks.” This is not one of Lauper’s strongest tracks, but it works fine in the context of a movie soundtrack. This also is not a stellar example of ’80s Mixtape Soundtracks as it’s kind of a weird mish-mash of pop styles and none of the tracks are great examples for the represented artists. Basically, it’s got a kind of “let’s quickly slap a few inexpensive tracks together to make a buck” feel not unlike the kind of cheap offerings on a takeout menu. (See where I’m going?) It’s not that it’s particularly bad, it’s just not as great as it could be.
The same can be said for takeout rangoon. You know you’re not getting actual crab in delivery rangoon. You’re going to have to go to a proper upscale joint for that. It really doesn’t matter, though, because you know most takeout rangoon is going to be good enough. (See what I did there?) The thing is, it can be better and vegetarian. My favorite tofu equivalent vegetable, cauliflower, makes a brilliant substitute for real crab and is definitely better than mock crab. A few wonton wrappers, a bit of prep, and you’ve got rangoon that is way more than just “good enough.”
RANGOONIES ‘R’ GOOD ENOUGH
Roasted cauliflower and cream cheese wontons with sweet chili dipping sauce
For the roasted cauliflower
1 medium head of cauliflower (about 14-0unces)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons Old Bay
For the rangoon filling
Old Bay roasted cauliflower
3/4 cup room temperature cream cheese (vegan or dairy)
2 tablespoons scallion greens, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon gochugaru or red pepper flakes, optional
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
20 square wonton wrappers
2 quarts vegetable or canola oil, for frying
Sweet Chili O’ Mine sauce for dipping
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Trim the leaves and a bit of the stem off of the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower, stem side down, onto a foil or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Coat completely with the vegetable oil and coat thoroughly with 3 tablespoons of Old Bay. Roast until tender and browned on top, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.
When cauliflower is cool enough to handle, cut the florets into bite-size pieces. Add the cauliflower to a large bowl and, with a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash the cauliflower until it resembles a crab-like consistency. Add the cream cheese, chives, garlic, Old Bay, soy sauce, onion powder, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
Fill a small bowl with water. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling into the center of the wonton wrapper. Using your fingers, lightly dip into the water and moisten the outer edges of the wonton wrapper. Bring two opposite corners of the wontons together and pinch them together. Then, bring the other two opposite corners together, making a purse shape. Seal the edges together, carefully removing any air bubbles. Repeat this process until all the filling is gone.
Heat oil in a large pot until it reaches 350-375 degrees F. Once the oil has reached temperature, fry the vegan crab rangoon 5 or 6 at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Fry until they are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack or paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all the wontons are fried.