Kani salad is a simple Japanese version of crab salad. It is a refreshing meal, packed with flavor using minimal ingredients which usually consist of crab sticks, cucumber, and a spicy mayonnaise dressing. Some have compared the flavor to a sushi California roll, just without the rice.
‘Kani’ is simply ‘crab’ in Japanese. Cuisines with crab are a staple food in Japan and have been around for more than 50 years. Kani salad usually uses imitation crab meat from crab sticks.
These are made from white fish such as pollock, which is then processed with starch and flavoring. This then mimics the texture and flavor of crab legs.
Don’t let the knowledge of it being processed and starched fool you. This imitation crab meat is packed with Omega-3 healthy fats and is very low in calories and cholesterol, which makes it a pretty healthy component for your meals.
This article is going to provide you with 7 delicious spicy Kani recipes for you to try at home. They are simple and scrumptious, and wonderful for the warmer months.
This simple recipe is easily customizable. It incorporates cucumber for that extra crunch, along with panko breadcrumbs for textural contrast. It also uses tobiko, a flying fish roe that is added to many Asian seafood dishes for an extra seafood taste.
To begin, all you need to do is shred the crab sticks. You can do this by hand by just pulling them apart, followed by doing the same with the cucumber.
You can use a peeler to shred the cucumber or a food processor. If you’d like some more crunch, then add some more cucumber. You then combine these two ingredients before adding the dressing.
For the dressing, the chef recommends using Kewpie mayonnaise, but if you can’t find it, then mixing regular mayonnaise with some rice vinegar or lemon juice works just as well. This recipe also uses mirin, a Japanese sweet rice wine. However, rice vinegar works well, you just may need to include a pinch of sugar for a bit more sweetness.
You are to combine these two ingredients with sriracha. If you’d like more heat then add more siracha, but if you like it mild, then add more mayonnaise.
Simply add the dressing to the cucumber and crab, then toss together sprinkling the tobiko and breadcrumbs on top, and there you have it! Super simple.
This option has even more crunch by adding carrot, and a burst of flavor with the mango. This recipe also includes Tobiko and also adds sesame seeds for that extra crunch.
The method follows the same as the previous option, just toss everything together and combine it with the dressing. This recipe also uses Kewpie mayonnaise, but no rice wine, however, it adds lemon juice.
The dressing here also includes soy sauce for an extra salty kick. Sriracha is also a component of this dressing, and if you’d like it extra spicy, then don’t hold back with this sauce.
The chef recommends this as a starter or a light meal, but to make it more substantial you can serve it alongside some Teriyaki Chicken or Sweet and Spicy Salmon.
Thanks to all the vegan substitutes out there, vegans don’t have to miss out on these wonderfully refreshing salads. This recipe uses marinated hearts of palm to make imitation crab meat.
Hearts of palm is a white vegetable obtained from varieties of palm trees. Its texture is similar to that of white asparagus and can be marinated and seasoned to achieve any taste you like.
In this case, the hearts of the palm are marinated with a fish-like sauce, containing rice vinegar and miso paste. The trick is to marinate it for an hour for it to consume all those wonderful flavors.
The rest of the recipe follows the usual structure, with vegan mayonnaise and vegan sriracha substitutes.
This recipe uses real crab instead of imitation crab meat. Although the traditional way of making this salad is using the imitation kind, using real crab makes it a bit healthier and less processed. This chef recommends using lump crab meat.
This recipe also adds kelp noodles, a Japanese transparent noodle. This makes this dish all the more filling and wholesome. A good alternative if you can’t find kelp noodles is zucchini noodles, shirataki noodles, or cucumber noodles.
This recipe changes it up a little by making a Kani salad wrap! This makes it a more substantial meal and takes spicy to a whole new level by replacing the sriracha with wasabi. This is made by mixing two parts Japanese mayonnaise, with one part wasabi.
If you’re up to the challenge, then you can reverse that and have two parts wasabi with one part mayonnaise.
The structure is the same as any other wrap, simply lay your tortilla flat and spread some of your wasabi mayonnaise before adding some lettuce. Then place all the ingredients for the filling on top of the lettuce such as the crab meat (this doesn’t need to be pulled apart in small strings), mango, and cucumber.
Then roll it up and there’s your refreshing lunch!
This take on the spicy Kani salad incorporates other vegetables such as asparagus and red pepper, which complement each other in this dish. The red pepper adds an extra sweetness and crunch, while the asparagus adds an earthy taste.
This recipe also replaces the siracha with chili jam. Tabasco is a good alternative if you can’t find chili jam. This will highlight the other flavors, instead of overpowering them.
If you’re someone who hasn’t tried sushi yet because the idea of raw fish puts you off, then this is a good option for you. This sushi roll uses the components of Kani salad, which uses crab meat so there’s no raw fish involved.
All you need is sushi rice, Japanese mayonnaise and sriracha, crab meat, and 2 sheets of nori seaweed.
Sushi can be fun to make with friends or kids in the kitchen, and the whole method is included in the link above. Enjoy this refreshing lunch or dinner option during the warmer months, which goes well with a cold glass of white wine.
As you’ve seen in these recipes, Kani salad is a very simple and quick dish you can make at home. It’s easily customizable and you can make it as spicy or as mild as you wish.
Whether you want to make it as simple as possible, or change it up by making it as a sushi roll, you are bound to enjoy this flavorsome and delicious meal.