Fried Crab and Cream Cheese Wonton Recipe (Hoanh Thanh Chien)

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fried crab and cream cheese wonton

For decades my Viet fried wonton was filled with a piquant pork and green onion filling, but thats not the case for many other Vietnamese-Americans. They likely grew up on or have become accustomed to fried cream cheese wontons what are served at Vietnamese restaurants as honh thnh chin. I learned this when I visited Minneapolis last year and cream cheese-filled fried wontons were on the menu. Some were crabby while others were filled with innovative fillings that included liver pate. Ive made crab Rangoon before, but for 2020, I created a Viet-American fried crab and cream cheese wonton recipe.

These fried wontons burst with a rich crab flavor. They are a zillion times better than what youd get at restaurants because you get to dial in the flavor. Plus, the filling is loaded with crab. Here it is for you to use!

Building a crabby flavor

This time of year, when Dungeness crabs are plentiful, I buy a big one alive or recently cooked, and pick out all the meat and reserve the crab fat (tomalley). The crab butter, called gch cua in Vietnamese, is prized for its rich, briny flavor. Ive found that its fine to consume in low to moderate quantities (dont eat it everyday or tons of it at once). If youre hesitant about eating it for food safety reasons, then dont. I like to add small amounts to my food to amplify the crab flavor and send a dish over the top.

fried crab and cream cheese wonton -- crabby goodness

For this filling, the crab fat creates an extra richness. Fish sauce underscores that too. So does black pepper and cilantro (the stems are great for this filling).

fried crab and cream cheese wonton -- cilantro stems

If you need instructions for picking crab, see this post for a step-by-step how-to.

Filling and shaping wontons

You can make any shape so long as it can be relatively flat so it fries up crisp. A simple triangle will do. I did little nurses caps this time around. Heres a post about how to buy wonton skins and a video on making different shapes.

fried crab and cream cheese wonton -- filled

The ones I purchased came from Whole Foods and are the Nasoya brand. Theyre a medium thickness.

Deep-frying vs Shallow Frying Wontons

Deep-frying is a pain in the butt messy and smelly. But if you use a wok or small pot, you dont have to use as much oil. I typically use 1 1/2 inches of oil but this time, I cut it to inch and fried a little slower, turning the wontons and regulating the heat so the oil temperature would be moderately-low. The oil I used was Whole Food canola, which is non-GMO and expeller pressed.

fried crab and cream cheese wonton -- in the wok

And can you make these with gluten-free dumpling wrappers? I tried, and the wrappers do not brown but they fry up to a crisp chewiness. Dont over fry them or they may burst.

Fried crab and cream cheese wonton - gluten-free

More Crab Wonton Goodness and Cocktails


Fried Crab and Cream Cheese Wontons

The filling can be made up to 2 days in advance so you can easily prep this for parties or small batch snacking!
Servings 8 people


  • 1/3 cup cream cheese regular or non dairy, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons crab fat (tomalley), optional but strongly advised
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated garlic (use a rasper)
  • 2/3 cup 4 oz crab meat, freshly picked or giant lump preferred
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (stems and/or leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion, green and white parts
  • Fine sea salt
  • 40 to 48 wonton skins
  • Oil for shallow-frying
  • 1 cup sweet and sour sauce or Thai sweet chile sauce (see Note)


  • To make the filling, in a bowl, use a fork to vigorously stir together the cream cheese, crab fat, fish sauce, black pepper, and garlic. Add the crab meat, cilantro, and green onion, then stir to combine well. Taste and add salt, as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes before using, or refrigerate up to 2 days in advance. Makes about 1 cup.
  • Fill each wonton skin with about 1 teaspoon of the filling, creating triangles, flower buds, or nurses caps. As you work, put the finished wontons on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet thats been lightly dusted with cornstarch. When done, loosely cover with a dishtowel to prevent drying. The wontons can also be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours; let them sit at room temperature to remove the chill before frying.
  • Put a wire rack on a baking sheet and place next to the stove. Pour oil to a depth of 3/4 inch into a wok, deep skillet, or 5-quart Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat to about 325F on a deep-fry thermometer.
  • Working in batches of 4 to 6, slide the wontons into the hot oil and fry for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Use a skimmer to transfer to the rack to drain. Arrange the wontons on a platter and serve hot as finger food along with the sauce for dipping.


For a sweet and sour dipping sauce, the recipe in Asian Dumplings is perfect, or make this one or this one, or Thai sweet chile sauce (homemade or purchased)

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