Reuben Egg Rolls
I don’t think we have done anything quite this silly since the In-N-Out inspired Animal Style Latkes and I am fully expecting these to appear on This is Why You’re Fat sometime soon. As I was contemplating a Christmas post my thoughts turned to the sterotypical what-Jews-eat-on-Christmas, Chinese food. I knew I wanted something a little different from standard Chinese fare, that would top my trayfe on trayfe of last year. While the exact path to this absurd idea is now lost to me, after some brainstorming, I came up with the idea for reuben egg rolls, where Jewish and Chinese come together much like the Christmas itself.
Luckily, I now have a pretty consistent supply of deli products from Evan and Leo, who, by the way, after months and months of negotiations, have finally come up with a name for their deli: Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen. I am looking forward to buying something from them soon, but in the meantime I was happy to trade a burrito for the perfect amount of pastrami, pickles, and russian dressing.
Now I have a friend who freaked out at the prospect of a reuben without rye bread. In an attempt to mollify him I did try a few things like dusting the wrappers in rye flour and caraway seeds, but they didn’t stick well and ended up burning in the oil. So unless you want to make wrappers from scratch using rye flour think of these as a super tasty appetizer homage to the famous sandwich.
Painstaking research was conducted
What does a Jew do for Christmas? Well this Jew travels to cold weather (which we lack around the Bay) and enjoys the holiday in the company of his non-Jewish relations. I actually did some of the cooking for Christmas dinner this year. I made a roast turkey, gravy from turkey fat, and a Bailey’s Irish cream cheese cake.
But, how could I journey to the heartland of America, Wisconsin and not talk about beer. Now, California has a great beer culture with dozens of small craft brewers offering their wares at Whole Foods and Bev Mo. But during a quick two day run from Racine to Lone Rock took us past several small breweries, all worth the trip.
Most of these places don’t even Pasteurize their beer. This means it cannot not be stored at room temperature and therefore generally doesn’t get shipped more than an hour’s drive away. But if you ever get out to Madison, then point the car west and make a beer and cheese run.
crab cheese wontons
I have to admit I am a little burnt out on Jewish food after the hefty string of Hanukkah posts so I though I would cure that with a little bit o’ trayfe for Christmas. I also thought, what better way to do that than to simultaneously reinforce the stereotype of Jews eating Chinese food for Christmas. Like most stereotypes this one is based in some truth, being that in the past, Chinese immigrants often didn’t celebrate Christmas either and Chinese restaurants would be open on the holiday. These days, especially in the Bay Area, people are significantly more integrated (and inter-married, for that matter) and the majority of Jewish and Chinese-American families have some sort of celebration to attend with family or friends on Christmas, but I still know of some Jewish families who hold on to the tradition of Chinese food and a movie on Christmas. I still had some wonton wrapper in my freezer heading toward freezer burn that were leftover from making Aushak, the Bay Area is smack in the middle of dungeness crab season, and I really didn’t get in enough frying over Hanukkah so I decided to make some crab cheese wontons for my Chinese food for Christmas edition.
Crab Cheese Wontons or Crab Rangoon has it origins in Oakland, and originally appeared as an appetizer at Trader Vic’s (now in Emeryville), in 1957. I, on the other hand, developed an affinity for them after spending countless nights as a teenage hanging out, after hours, at Hunan Chef Wong (now The Hunan Chef) in Pleasanton. A friend of mine from high school’s family owned the restaurant, so he usually worked until closing there and I was waiting table at a pasta place in town and would usually drive past on my way home after my shift to see if he was still there. This was a pattern for a number of people and on any given weekend night there would be anywhere from 4-20 people hanging out, drinking beer and playing cards or dominoes. At some point, due to the various substances consumed, we would get the munchies. Sometimes we would just wander over to the 7-11 or Jack-in-the-box for snacks, but on occasion we could convince my friend would cook for us. This restaurant was not only a fun place to hang, but they actually have really good Chinese food and if we were really lucky he would make us our favorite… crab cheese wontons. I have never been able to recreate his recipe (mostly because he would never tell me what it was), but even the passable facsimile I make conjures up warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. My friend still owns the place, although I haven’t been there since I moved from Pleasanton. From the website it looks like they remodeled and I immediately thought of the night a bunch of us created a bizarro time-capsule out of a recently emptied Patron tequila bottle and hid it under one of booth seats. I imagine it was found by a very confused contractor.
recipe after the break