Crispy Crab Bundles

Here is my take on crab rangoon – a very crab-tastic, crispy phyllo bundle filled with soft, rich cream cheese.  This recipe makes enough filling for about 48 bundles, but I only assembled and cooked up half of them tonight.  The second wave may have to wait a day or so.

I was surprised by the good crab flavor that I was able to achieve while using imitation crab or surimi.  I only wish I had some black sesame seeds to garnish the bundles, but alas, I’m all out.

Still, a good appetizer for seafood lovers!

Crispy Crab Bundles
Makes 48 bundles.

2 cups of surimi (imitation crab meat), finely chopped
2 packages (16 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
about 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
Optional:  freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 rolls of phyllo dough, thawed
2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
cooking spray

mini muffin tins
pastry brush
1/2 tablespoon for filling bundles

Begin by thawing the phyllo dough according to the package directions.  Keep the thawed phyllo dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the bundles so it doesn’t dry out.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray the mini muffin tins with cooking spray to prevent the dough from sticking.

Prepare the tins for baking with a bit of cooking spray in each mini muffin cup!

Chop the crab meat and scallions.

Here is what surimi looks like. It comes in sticks like these at the seafood counter or in the freezer section of most markets. Asian stores also carry it.

Here is the crab meat all chopped up.

A bit of green for the filling...

Mix the crab meat, cream cheese, scallions, garlic salt, and freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl until smooth and well-combined.

Add in the seasonings, and adjust for taste if needed. I thought that a little black pepper was great, omit it if you're not a pepper fan.

The crab filling is smooth and ready to be spooned into the phyllo dough cups.

Melt the butter in a small bowl.  Prepare a clean work surface (I use a cutting board) and have the melted butter, pastry brush, and knife at the ready.

Remove the phyllo dough from the refrigerator and lay one thin sheet of dough out flat on your work surface.  Brush the dough gently with melted butter, paying special attention to wet the edges.  Top the first sheet with another sheet of dough, pressing down with your fingers and hands to adhere the layers to one another.  Stack layers of phyllo dough one atop another with melted butter in between until you have a stack of 6 sheets.  Brush the top layer with melted butter.

Here are the 6 layers before being cut into 12 squares...

Quick Tip The trick to working with phyllo dough is to be gentle and work steadily to prevent the dough from drying out.  Don’t be in too much of a hurry or you will tear the dough.  You can wring out a damp paper towel and place it over the dough to keep the moisture.  There is a delicate balance of moisture with phyllo dough – if it is too moist, you won’t be able to separate it, but if it is too dry, it will break.

Cut the phyllo dough stack into 12 equal squares with a knife.  Press a dough square into each mini muffin cup, being careful not to tear the dough.  The edges of the dough squares will spill out of the muffin cups.

The dough cups are all ready to be filled with the creamy crab mixture.

Repeat the layering process until you have a additional stacks of 6 sheets of phyllo dough identical to the first.  Cut each stack into squares and fill the remaining mini muffin pans with dough squares.

Fill each dough bundle with a heaping 1/2 tablespoon of crab filling.  If you have larger squares, add a little extra filling.

Each little cup is nearly brimming with crab goodness...

Fold the edges of each dough square inwards, covering the crab filling and making a little bundle.

Here is a folded crab bundle. Try to cover the crab filling the best you can with the dough. Press down on the top of the bundle with your fingers to secure it.

Brush the top of each bundle with melted butter.

You can really see the melted butter on the top of this one...

Bake the bundles for 20-25 minutes until they are crispy and golden-brown.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Mmm. Baked crab and cheesy...