When we get takeout, 9 times out of 10 I want sushi. When we order sushi, 9 times out of 10 I get a cold, crunchy, sometimes spicy always delicious kani salad. The tender strings of crab (imitation crab meat) with crunchy, cold, fresh julienned cucumber, tossed in a creamy spicy Japanese mayonnaise dressing and then topped with some crunch by adding panko breadcrumbs and sesame seeds…I mean it does not get any better.
It’s the perfect little salad. I would find myself craving it and it alone. Obviously I can’t get just that delivered and a napping baby would deter me from going to the Japanese restaurant to pick one up. So, i’ll make my own delicious Japanese inspired salad! I thought, the prep time is short, its a few simple ingredients that are pretty accessible. I know what I like, can identify most of the ingredients and could give it my own little flare, adding and subtracting components that I like and ones I could do without all while using traditional Kani salad ingredients.
Let’s get started with the star of the show…
Imitation Crab Meat:
The main ingredient, I chose the Crab Classic leg style imitation crab sticks which is a blend of wild Alaska pollock and king crab meat. I like the texture of these and the shape. You can shred crab sticks into stringy pieces very easily so the salad texture and consistency were authentic. Pollock is a white fish that has become more popular over recent years due to overfishing of cod and haddock. It has a mild taste and its flavor is just what this imitation crab salad calls for.
I suppose you could use fresh crab meat. I have never prepared it this way nor have I ever seen a Japanese kani salad offered this way at any American Japanese restaurants that I have visited.
No kani salad is complete without some crunchy vegetables. Especially thin matchstick slices of english cucumber or Persian cucumbers. slices them in the traditional matchstick shape so they are similar to the length and size of the shredded crab sticks is key. There are several other vegetables that go great in this salad but fresh cucumbers are necessary.
Another delicious way to serve up your crab stick salad is with some julienned mango or carrots – the sweetness from the mango is a really great addition and makes for a super tasty kani salad. And the thin strips of carrot add a wonderful crunch. Whatever you add just please make sure you have julienned vegetables.
Now for the star of any Japanese crab salad – the creamy, spicy, mayonnaise dressing! And I am here to tell you that a kani salad homemade dressing is just as good if not better than what you order at a restaurant! To get started preparing your kani salad dressing you will need a mixing bowl to whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
A non-negotiable ingredient is Kewpie mayonnaise – another kind just wont work. Its a creamy mayonnaise with an almost sweet flavor – whatever it is, it’s delicious and a necessity in achieving the perfect creamy dressing – regular mayonnaise will not cut it! I ordered my Kewpie mayonnaise on Amazon but you can pick it up at most asian markets.
Next you’ll add in soy sauce, a little bit of rice wine vinegar, sriracha for heat and I did a little bit of sesame oil which gave the dressing a really great nutty flavor. Whisk all the ingredients together and I am telling you – you will want to drink this dressing. It’s the bomb. Instead of drinking it, pour it over the crab, julienned vegetables, panko bread crumbs and gently toss.
I serve my kani salad with some sliced avocado and a sprinkle of white sesame seeds. You could also use black sesame seeds and another popular addition is fish roe. This spicy crab salad is also great over sushi rice with green onions or served on a bed of lettuce.
If you are a fan of kani salad you have to make this dish. It’s a great side dish to any meal and easy to make ahead. Serve this alongside my delicious and easy baked Dill Butter Lemon Salmon. You can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. If you try it out, let me know what you think!Print