The Japanese dish known as Kani salad is a take on the classic American crab salad. It is made with thin crab sticks, crunchy thinly sliced cucumbers, sliced mango and a spicy mayonnaise creamy dressing. Better than the takeout from sushi restaurants or pricey Japanese steakhouse, this homemade recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes!
This salad is great for a light lunch or dinner since it is both easy to put together and refreshing. It is usually served with rice or noodles, or next to some sliced avocado – a staple dish at many American Japanese restaurants.
This is my version of a Kani Salad, which is really simple to prepare and tastes amazing! You can make this refreshing salad with just three basic ingredients: cucumber, imitation crab, and mango.The whole preparation time is about 15 minutes, so this is a perfect option for a quick lunch when time is of the essence. Add some fresh sliced avocado next to it and you’ll love it even more, if that’s possible.
It tastes delicious, pretty much like a California sushi roll (favorite food of mine 🙂 without the rice. It has same flavors and almost same ingredients as the sushi roll, just a bit more refreshing and creamier.
What is Kani?
Kani is the Japanese word for crab, however this dish is created using fake crab meat instead of the real thing.
You’re probably familiar with the crab stick that has a bright red stripe down one side and is in fact produced from pollock or another mild white fish that has been treated to make it seem and taste like crab meat.
It comes apart easily, just like the real crab meat, and tastes almost exactly the same.
What is Kani Salad?
Kani Salad is a Japanese style salad made with simple ingredients: crab and thinly sliced crunchy vegetables (cucumber, carrot, red pepper) all tossed in a creamy spicy mayo dressing, served with various toppings: panko crumbs, sesame seeds, etc. An absolute sushi shop favorite!
Ingredients for Kani Salad
- Kani sticks – imitation crab sticks are the main ingredient in a Kani Salad. Also known as crab sticks or seafood sticks. You’ll need 8 ounces of imitation crab stick. This is typically 8 crab sticks (they’re one ounce each). You can easily shred the imitation crab meat with your fingers. You may be tempted to use real crab meat if you have any available, but do yourself a favor and save it for a different recipe. It won’t work in Kani salad, as it is watery and will completely change the consistency of the dish. Tried it, as I was curious if it’s better on a small batch and it did not work at all.
- Cucumber – I have used Lebanese cucumbers this time, as they are in season and contain a lot less water than regular ones (you can use English cucumbers – they are seedless or regular ones but you need to get rid of the water excess and seeds using plenty of paper towels)
- Mango – make sure you grab a ripe mango that is still firm (not soft -will be quite tricky to slice it thinly) for a great texture. Fresh mango would be great but if they are not in season, frozen mango also works great.
Spicy Dressing for Kani Salad Ingredients
- Japanese Mayonnaise (Kewpie) – made from egg yolks instead of whole eggs and it is so rich in flavor (and a lot more saltier) compared to a regular mayo. If you can’t find it, don’t stress…just use regular mayonnaise, it is not going to impact that much the final taste.
- Sriracha sauce is added to make the Japanese Kani Salad spicy. You can add more or less than the recipe says, depending on how spicy you like it. I personally didn’t want it that spicy, wanted to still be able to taste the other ingredients combined.
- Soy sauce
- Rice Vinegar
Optional Toppings for Kani Salad
You can add sesame seeds to the salad. Add sliced avocado or chopped green onions for more flavor. If you want a little crunch, add some panko breadcrumbs on top (You can find them in any grocery store, on the Asian market isle.)
How to make Kani Salad
This spicy crab salad recipe is simple and only requires a few ingredients. The prep time is around 10-15 minutes, depending on how fast you can thinly slice the ingredients.
I always like to start with getting the kani salad dressing. This spicy mayonnaise dressing is ready in no time. Add to a small bowl: mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Whisk gently to combine well, have a taste and set aside.
Add to a large bowl the shredded crab sticks (you can easily do that with your hands), thinly sliced crunchy cucumber, and sliced mango. Add the dressing to the salad and give it a good toss.
Serve topped with panko breadcrumbs or sesame seeds, next to some sliced avocado.
Tips to make this easy Spicy Kani Salad
- Use high-quality ingredients: Look for fresh, crisp vegetables like cucumber (Always use Persian or Lebanese cucumbers as they have a lot more flavour and are far less watery with tiny seeds), carrot, and lettuce. Use high-quality imitation crab meat that is flavorful and has a firm texture.
- Cut ingredients into thin, uniform pieces: To ensure that each bite of salad is balanced, make sure to cut the vegetables and crab meat into thin, uniform pieces.
- Mix the dressing well: The dressing for kani salad typically includes mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, and rice vinegar. Be sure to mix the dressing well to ensure that it is evenly distributed throughout the salad.
- Kani salad is best served chilled, so be sure to refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and Panko crumbs right before serving it, that way they will be perfectly crunchy.
- If the salad has already been dressed, transfer it to an airtight container. Make sure to cover the container with a lid that fits tightly.
- Store the container in the refrigerator. The salad can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
- If the salad has not yet been dressed, you can store the individual components separately. For example, you can store the imitation crab meat in one container, the cucumber in another, and the avocado in a third container. Store each container in the refrigerator and only mix the ingredients together when you are ready to serve the salad.
- Before serving, give the salad a good mix to distribute the dressing evenly and check if any additional dressing is needed.
Just bear in mind that the avocado in the salad will become brown after a day or two in the fridge. To help prevent this, squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice over the avocado before mixing it with the other ingredients. This will help to slow down the browning process.
Are you craving something spicy and refreshing? Look no further than the best spicy kani salad! This mouth-watering dish combines the delicate flavors of crab with a zesty kick of spice that will have your taste buds dancing. Whether you’re a fan of sushi or just looking for something new to try, this salad is sure to become one of your go-to favorites. So prepare your chopsticks and get ready to indulge in the ultimate fusion of flavor – it’s time to discover the best spicy kani salad!