This wasn’t my idea first, I have to say quickly. I saw it on a blog and decided that was one smart move. Take imitation crab, cream cheese and a few tweaks to make a filling, then grill it as a sandwich on my Panini press. Oh my! Two of my favorite foods: crab (albeit imitation) and Panini! These would be great with a bowl of soup!
I love imitation crab and put it in all kinds of dishes. I don’t blog it often as I think you’d all realize how insane I can be with flavors. But this was simply another form of a fish salad sandwich and I’ve posted several of them in the last few months. My sister Linda introduced me to interesting fish spreads for sandwiches and we’ve enjoyed them ever since.
I only had to get the cream cheese to room temp to start these Panini on their way to perfection. And if you’d noticed, I rarely wait that long. Yes, I’m one of those who uses the microwave in short durations to get my butter or cream cheese to room temp. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, I don’t end up with puddles of totally melted butter any more!
The imitation crab was in large “flakes” and needed to be diced finer. I’m not sure why they call that a flake, I’d call it a “chunk” or a “wad”. Perhaps that’s why I’m not in marketing/advertising? So once I had my crab reduced to smaller pieces, I mixed it with the softened cream cheese.
The recipe I’d seen was fairly plain and simple. I added diced green onions, a little garlic, a good pinch of cayenne and salt and pepper. Then ignoring all of the chefs on TV who gasp and look offended at the pairing of cheese with any fish, I put in a handful of shredded parmesan.
Deciding I should have used 8 ounces of cream cheese since the mix was a bit dry, I added 1/2 cup ricotta to the crab mixture and mixed well again. Ricotta is like a finer textured cottage cheese, without much flavor. It would add more of a creaminess than flavor.
I’d bought kangaroo pockets, which are pita bread with pockets. I just love using those for lunches. You can put all kinds of things in the pockets, whether it’s fish, fowl, sandwich meat, or even a salad.
I’m not sure why they’re called Crab Rangoon. Usually they’re made in wonton wrappers and deep fried. It’s not from Rangoon, it’s an American creation. They’re usually on the buffets in the Chinese restaurants and I love them. I’d never make them myself, it’s enough to have a couple when dining out.
I preheated my Panini griddle then scooped my crab filling into the pockets. I was cautious not to overfill because they’d ooze out all over the griddle. They oozed a little anyway, but came off the griddle clean and all in one piece.
Using a basting brush I brush a little olive oil over the outsides of the pockets. From past experience, they can get too dry and tough to chew without a little oil on them.
I put the pockets onto the griddle and closed the top down. I let them cook until they had nice dark marks, peeking once in awhile to judge their doneness. They cooked for 3 or 4 minutes.
Biting into the warm sandwich was bliss. Creamy, cheesy crab inside the crispy pockets of bread was a great new way to Rangoon it. And probably much faster than making the deep fried version. They were delicious and a good accompaniment to our hearty bowls of ham and corn chowder, which will be a separate post.
Crab Rangoon Panini
4 ounces cream cheese; room temp or softened in microwave
1/2 cup ricotta cheese or use 8 ounces cream cheese total
8 ounces imitation crab; finely chopped
¼ cup green onions or scallions; finely chopped
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of cayenne or more to taste
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper or to taste
¼ cup shredded parmesan
Mix all ingredients together well with fork and refrigerate until used.
Heat Panini griddle.
Scoop crab filling into kangaroo pita pockets. Lightly brush oil onto the pitas using a brush or a paper towel. Place on Panini griddle, close cover, and bake until brown marks on the outsides. When cooking more than 4, open griddle and cook on one side, flip, and cook on second side.