Kanikama, the Japanese word for imitation crab, is a popular seafood alternative. With its distinctive taste and texture, it’s no wonder this affordable and versatile seafood delight has made its way into many types of sushi and the hearts of food lovers.
What is Kanikama
Kanikama is a processed seafood product made from surimi, a fish paste that typically consists of white fish, such as pollock or whiting. The paste is flavored, colored, and shaped to resemble crab meat, making it an affordable alternative to authentic crab meat.
Kanikama goes by quite a few different names, including
- Imitation Crab (Imitation Krab)
- Crab Stick (Krab Stick)
- Ocean Sticks
Kanikama originated in Japan in the 1970s and quickly gained popularity in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Its low cost, versatility, and ability to be used in a variety of dishes have made it a popular choice among seafood enthusiasts.
Does It Contain Real Crab
Despite its name, kanikama does not contain any actual crab meat. Instead, it’s typically made from a mixture of white fish meat, such as pollock or hake, along with starch, sugar, egg white, and other additives to create the crab-like texture and flavor.
Is It Raw or Cooked
Kanikama is steamed and pasteurized before packaging so it’s fully cooked. As such, if making a hot dish, it just needs to be re-heated.
Unopened packages can last in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Upon opening, it’s best to utilize within 3 days.
Kanikama is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Its mild, slightly sweet flavor and firm texture make it a popular choice for sushi rolls and other seafood dishes, including:
- Kanikama Sushi Rolls (California rolls)
- Temaki Sushi
- Kani Salad
- Pasta dishes
- Seafood chowders
- Sandwiches and wraps
Varieties of Imitation Crab
There are 3 different shapes you can snag at the grocery store:
- Stick – crab stick is the most common shape and is often used in sushi rolls and sandwiches.
- Flakes or Chunks – the second most common form, flakes are often used in soups, seafood rolls, pasta, salads and more.
- Shredded – the least popular shape, shredded krab is used in hot crab dip, crab cakes and even seafood enchiladas and tacos.
Kanikama is loaded with artificial ingredients, making real crab, such as these Baked Crab Legs, a healthier choice. In addition, Kanikama calories come from carbs whereas real crab is from protein.