1-7: Trader Vic’s Crab Turnovers

I had mentioned in 9-26: Crispy Beef Turnovers and 13-13: Spinach Turnovers that there was a third turnover recipe that I had intended to make (for a trio of turnovers), but that the third recipe required a different cooking method (deep-frying versus baking), so I chose to shelve it until I could do it right.

Well, I happened to have a (borrowed, since returned) mini deep-fryer in my possession recently, so 1-7: Trader Vic’s Crab Turnovers (the fabled third turnover recipe) was finally about to become a reality.


First, let’s talk a little about who this Trader Vic character is–the TL;DR of the associated Wikipedia page is that it’s the name of a chain of Polynesian/Tiki-themed restaurants popular in the 1950s & 60s, and of which there are only two left open in the United States (from a height of 25). However, he’ll live on as part of the (perhaps ethically questionable) inspiration for the very popular grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s. 🗿🌴

I grew up in Los Angeles, and passed by the deliciously mid-century Tiki-infused exterior of the Beverly Hilton location many times throughout my childhood–that one closed back in 2007. One of the two U.S. locations still open is actually in Northern California (Emeryville, which is near San Francisco/Berkeley and is the home of Pixar)…maybe we’ll have to make a pilgrimage for a Mai Tai before that one meets its inevitable fate. In case you were wondering, the other U.S. location is in Atlanta, GA.


Ingredients. I splurged on fresh-ish crab meat for these (I had originally planned to do these with canned crab meat, so this is an upgrade), and borrowed a mini deep-fryer to do them properly.


I cut the puff pastry into rectangles (with a sad, dull steak knife, not a pastry wheel–even though I have one).


Mixed up the filling.


Filling went into the puff pastry squares.


Mixed up some egg to brush and seal the edges with.


Used a fork to seal the edges which isn’t pretty, but let’s face it–once it hits the oil it’s not going to matter much anyway.


Green light’s on, let’s get frying!


SO much easier and safer than trying to do it on the stove.


Looking nice and golden–they’ll puff up pretty big in the hot oil, but they do deflate to a more acceptable size once they cool.


Edges got a little curly on some,  but they look pretty good.


Served with a bit of Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce, one of my FAVORITE sauces. You may be saying to yourself, “These are basically just crab rangoons“–that’s because crab rangoon as a concept/dish is actually originally FROM Trader Vic’s!

And last I checked (2020), Trader Vic’s is still serving those Crab Rangoons, so go get yourself a Mai Tai and indulge in some well-preserved mid-century kitsch. (2020 edit: Maybe stick with the takeout version or these ones for now–let’s hope COVID-19 doesn’t spell the end for Trader Vic).

Grade: A


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