Burma, remarked Rudyard Kipling, is “quite unlike any land you know about.” Even though today it is called Myanmar, and Yangon, AKA Rangoon, is no longer a capital city, albeit a hot tourist destination, it holds the distinction of being the oldest civilization in Indochina.
Historians maintain that the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, also called the Golden Pagoda, was built by the Mon rulers between 6th and 10th centuries C.E. The legend, however, dates it much earlier, about 2600 years ago, which will make it the oldest in the world. Tradition has it that two brothers from Dagon, while traveling on business, ran into Lord Gautama Buddha (during his lifetime, that is) who gave them eight of his hairs. When they returned to Burma, they presented those hairs to King Okkalapa in a golden casket. And when the King opened the casket…
“There was a tumult among men and spirits … rays emitted by the Hairs penetrated up to the heavens above and down to hell … the blind beheld objects … the deaf heard sounds … the dumb spoke distinctly … the earth quaked … the winds of the ocean blew … Mount Meru shook … lightning flashed … gems rained down until they were knee deep … all trees of the Himalayas, though not in season, bore blossoms and fruit.” (Reed,R. and Grosberg, M. 2005, Myanmar (Burma). Lonely Planet).
So the Golden Pagoda miraculously emerged, and the humble fishing village Dagon grew into a capital of the Mon dynasty, Rangoon, renamed so by King Alaungpaya in 18th century. For centuries, Burmese history was wrought with conflicts, wars, and conquests. By naming his capital Rangoon, which means “End of Strife,” the King was making a strong positive statement. Unfortunately, strife continued, and not only in Burma, but everywhere else in the world. Fortunately, no matter where we are today, we can enjoy some highlights of the exotic and beautiful Burmese culture.
A while ago, I posted a recipe for Baked Wontons (see here), and a lovely blogofriend who goes by the pen name Anne Boleyn (don’t worry, Beautiful People, her clever head is firmly sitting on her shoulders – hop over and visit her awesome blog!) asked if I have ever made crab rangoons.
I went and bought some fake crab, fake cream cheese, and very real wonton wraps, and set out to make rangoons. Distinguished Burmese name notwithstanding, crab rangoons came to us from California, where they accompanied Mai Tai cocktails at the famous Polynesian-themed restaurant Trader Vic’s.
Diced fake crab is mixed with finely sliced scallions and minced garlic. So far, so good, if you are expecting oriental flavors. This mix is now introduced to imitation cream cheese, which is so obviously non-Polynesian and non-Burmese, that the name Rangoon sounds far fetched, to say the least. We do add soy sauce and wasabi powder (you might want to add some finely diced hot pepper instead, if you like it hot), to justify the name.
Plop a teaspoon of this delicious mix in the center of a square wonton wrap, wet the sides, and start closing and sealing this cutie.
You can be as creative as you wish and make all kinds of different shapes. I chose to bring the opposite sides together and make a four-corner. Make sure you seal it tight, not to lose any filling. Place your rangoons on a lightly misted with oil baking sheet and spray them on top. Send them to the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you want them to be.
Please use the time to listen to this inspired cooperative effort of the greatest American artists. Repeat after them: WE ARE THE WORLD, WE ARE THE CHILDREN! THERE COMES A TIME WHEN THE WORLD MUST COME TOGETHER AS ONE!
Recently, I published a post dedicated to the memory of one of the most tragic events of the twentieth century, the Holocaust (to refresh your memory, please click here). I am immensely grateful to many of you, Beautiful People, who expressed their horror and their compassion to the victims of that shameful page in human history. Yet, there was one comment that stopped me in my tracks:
“This means YOU, personally, really should weight your words SERIOUSLY, and I strongly advise you to delete this written defamation of both characters and a huge group of people who do not take slander and character assassination like this easily. I do not know which organization you have got to back you up, but if you do not care about lawsuits in the multi-million dollar range, fine, just keep on what you are doing. If you DO care about spending x-amounts of money to try and defend this CLEARLY written libel, then take my DELETE-advice. Your “Post” is now officially taken both copies and screen-shots of and digitally stored for later use and evidence. This is just a warning. “
Obviously, I deleted this comment, but to me it meant two things:
- If my humble, but well-researched and documented post elicited this strong of a reaction, I must be doing something right; and
- THERE IS STILL TOO MUCH STRIFE IN THE WORLD!
I implore you, Beautiful People, to remember the wise King Alaungpaya, to come together as one, and work together to end the strife!
- 8 oz cream cheese (Tofutti or real)
- 6 oz imitation crabmeat, diced
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 -2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon wasabi powder, or more to taste (alternatively, chile pepper)
- Wonton wraps
- Preheat oven to 425 F (220 degrees C). Lightly spray baking sheet with oil.
- Combine garlic, cream cheese, crab, green onions, wasabi powder, and soy sauce. Place 1 teaspoon of filling onto the center of each wonton wrap. Moisten the edges with water, connect the middle of opposite sides, press to seal.
- Place rangoon on the baking sheet, lightly spray with oil.
- Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.