Kanikama: I Can't Believe It's Not Crab

Posted: Nov 11 2014

When we hear the word "imitation", there's often a negative connotation with it. However Kanikama, also known as imitation crab meat, is less an imitation and more of a substitute. In some ways, it's actually better than real crab meat. And for many people, particularly those that are new to sushi, it’s an easy gateway into the wonderful world of seafood.

For the uninitiated, Kanikama is a combination of pulverised white fish meat. In the western world, this is primarily made of Alaska pollock. Because of its mild taste and high protein, low fat content, Kanikama is perfect for those wary of seafood -- especially children.

Photo courtesy by JustOneCookBook

In its final form as crab sticks, Kanikama has a solid texture with a mild savory taste. This is ideal to present as a finger food, making it easy for new-to-seafood people to enjoy as an appetizer. Its bright coloring and easy shape are fun for children to take, similar to fish sticks or chicken tenders

While it certainly works as a finger food appetizer, at Fish For Sushi, we recommend it in particular as a garnish or part of a unique roll. The way Kanikama is processed delivers both an authentic flavor and a unique texture that creates a satisfying sushi experience. Visually, the bright contrast between red and white makes a striking appearance, adding an aesthetic accent to any meal -- or in the case of a kids meal, simply a fun color.

You may be wondering just why we recommend Kanikama over real crab meat. First off, it’s better for you. Kanikama is lower in both fat and cholesterol than crab meat. It’s also much more affordable, so from a health and cost perspective, you’ll be able to enjoy more of it than if you went with real crab meat.


Photo courtesy by JustOneCookBook

A good way to put this to the test is by tasting for yourself. One of our favorite Kanikama dishes is crab salad. This is a simple, refreshing, and delicious recipe that works as an appetizer, side dish, or meal in itself. If you search around, you’ll find a few different recipes that bring their own spin to this. Our personal choice is a mix of Kanikama and cucumber (both sliced) with corn kernels on top of a salad mix. Using a dressing made of Ponzu sauce (a Japanese citrus sauce), mayonnaise, sesame seeds, and soy sauce, and you’ll get a light salad bursting with flavor. If you’re unsure about Kanikama, simply follow this recipe and create two versions -- one with Kanikama (we sell 8 oz. packages) and one with real crab meat. We think you’ll be satisfied with both, but the health and cost benefits of Kanikama should put the choice over the top for future dishes.

  1. Wild Sockeye Salmon 紅鮭 (~20 oz)
  2. Salmon Sashimi 鮭 (7 oz)
  3. Bluefin Otoro 最高級大トロ


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