15-minutes is all you need to whip up a batch of Kani Salad, sometimes referred to as a Kanikama Salad. This American Japanese crab salad recipe is loaded with imitation crab, crunchy vegetables, Panko bread crumbs and a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing.
Enjoy this spicy Kani Salad as an appetizer, side dish or even main meal. We serve it along side Hawaiian Poke, Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll, Temaki Sushi, Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, or even Tuna Crudo or Salmon Crudo as many ingredients overlap.
The ingredients for Kani Salad is short and sweet. For such a flavorful dish, you’d think the spicy mayonnaise dressing is composed of a ton of different condiments, but it’s the exact opposite.
Kani is the imitation crab meat featured in this Kani Salad recipe. Imitation crab is made from surimi, which is minced white fish, namely pollock. It’s processed to taste and look like crab meat.
Yes, you can use fresh crab meat instead of imitation crab meat when making this seafood salad. It technically makes it a spicy crab salad recipe vs. a spicy Kani Salad recipe, but you get the gist. The texture will change as real crab meat and imitation crab sticks don’t have the same shape or firmness.
Kani Salad Dressing
The Kani Salad dressing recipe uses basic ingredients you probably already have on hand, making this easy spicy Kani Salad recipe even easier to prep and make. All you need is mayonnaise, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar (or rice vinegar) and Sriracha.
No crazy exotic vegetables in this crab salad recipe. Only cucumbers, carrots and mango. Notice how they’re cut into the same size and shape as the shredded crab sticks?
All of the garnishes are optional, and depend on your taste: Black sesame seeds, Panko bread crumbs and slices of avocado, if the creamy green stuff is your jam.
How To Make Kani Salad
There are only 3 steps to make this salad: make the salad dressing, cut the vegetables and crab sticks into thin strips and tossing to combine. That’s it!
Spicy Kani Salad
As written, this seafood salad isn’t overly spicy. The Sriracha adds a slight touch of heat, as well as flavor, but to really put the spice in “spicy” double the Sriracha. If heat ain’t your thing, leave it out altogether.
Kani Salad Recipe Variations
This Kani Mango Salad is a perfect replica of the Spicy Mango Kani Salad’s we’re served at Japanese restaurants, however there is always room for variations, particularly when salad is involved. Here are some ideas:
- Extra Spice – like things on the spicy side? Double or triple the Sriracha. It adds heat without changing the overall flavor of the dish.
- Don’t Like The Heat? Omit the Sriracha all together.
- Seafood – Chop up cooked shrimp and throw it in with the crab sticks for extra flavor and texture.
- Real Crab Meat – as mentioned above, swap out equal parts crab sticks with real crab meat. No other edits are required.
- Tobiko or Masago – just like your favorite sushi rolls, adding flying fish roe or capelin fish roe to the salad would be excellent. You’ll get an extra hit of color, flavor and texture.
- Kani Sushi – Any sushi roll that includes Kani or crab can be referred to as Kani sushi. Roll this Mango Kani Salad into Nori sheets and sushi rice instant pot to make a Kani sushi roll.
- To cut down on prep time, buy pre-shredded carrots.
- Cut the carrots, mango and cucumber in similar sizes as to create the best texture.
- Keep the cucumber skin on for extra nutrients and color, if desired.
- If using a standard large cucumber, it’s best to remove the seeds before cutting as they will water down the salad.
- You can use a knife, two forks or your fingers to shred the crab sticks. They peel like string cheese, so we prefer to dig in with our fingers.
- Use Japanese mayo (Kewpie) for a fuller flavor. It will create a creamier dressing than using standard mayo. Although both taste amazing.
- If making in advance, do not add the panko or sesame seeds until you’re ready to serve as they’ll get soggy.
- Do not dress the salad until you’re ready to serve as the vegetables will get soggy.
View More Seafood Recipes
- 3 tbsp Mayonnaise (*Note 1)
- 2½ tsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce (*Note 2)
- 16 oz Imitation Crab Sticks, Shredded (*Note 3)
- 1 cup Julienned Cucumber (approx. 3" long)
- 1 cup Julienned Carrot (approx. 3" long)
- 1 Mango, Julienned 3" long
- 1 Avocado, Sliced
- 2 tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
- 4 tsp Panko Bread Crumbs
- Add all the salad dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Add the crab and vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and use tongs to toss to coat evenly.
- Serve in individual bowls and top with Panko bread crumbs, sesame seeds and avocado slices. Enjoy immediately for best texture.