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Have you ever gone to a Japanese restaurant and wondered “what’s in this recipe”? I love Japanese food and would love to learn how to make all their recipes. Kani salad is one of my favorites. It is spicy, nutty and creamy. Even if this recipe is not traditional Japanese cuisine, you can find it in most Japanese restaurants.
After learning how to make it, Spicy Kani salad is a staple at home and when I want to impress dinner guests. Make sure to save this Kani Salad recipe, because if you like Asian food, you’re going to love this one.
WHAT IS KANI?
Kani means “crab” in Japanese, but in most restaurants and supermarkets found outside Japan it refers to imitation crab meat. Kani is actually made from white fish such as Pollock that has been pulverized and mixed with starch with added “crab” flavoring and red food coloring to resemble real crab.
Imitation crab meat is also known as surimi or kanikama and it was first produced in Japan in 1975. It can be found in the form of sticks, or lump meat.
WHAT’S IN KANI SALAD
Usually, Kani salad is made with julienne cucumbers, carrots and kani. The dressing is a combination of kewpie mayo (flavored with rice vinegar instead of white vinegar like regular mayo), soy sauce, lemon juice or rice vinegar, sesame seed oil and sriracha. There are some variations in which fruits such as mango are added.
INGREDIENTS FOR KANI SALAD
- Kani is of course the main ingredient. I recommend buying it in stick form and not in lump form. The sticks are shredded “julienne” style just as the rest of the veggies.
- Cucumber: English cucumbers are perfect for this recipe. They contain a bit less moisture than regular cucumbers so the salad will not get soggy. These are unpeeled and cut into julienne.
- Carrots: also cut into julienne. You can buy them already cut into matchsticks, but I like to do it myself with a julienne peeler.
- Kewpie mayo is Asian mayo made with rice vinegar instead of white vinegar. It is desired, but not a must. You can use regular mayo and add a touch of rice vinegar to the dressing.
- Soy sauce which adds saltiness to the dressing.
- Sesame seed oil adds the characteristic Asian nutty flavor to this salad.
- Rice vinegar. If you can’t find kewpie mayo, use regular mayo and just add a touch of rice vinegar to the dressing to mimic the flavor of kewpie.
- Lemon juice for tartness. You can also use lime.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
HOW TO MAKE KANI SALAD
Cutting the veggies and kani into julienne gives this salad its characteristic look. So most of the prepping time is going towards cutting the veggies and shredding the kani. I like to use a julienne peeler to aid in this task, but if you have great knife skills, by all means do it by hand. Thin julienne strips are what is desired. Cut one English cucumber and one medium carrot into julienne and shred 16 oz of kani or crab sticks.
For the dressing:
– 1 ½ – 2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce.
– ½ cup kewpie mayo (or use ½ cup regular mayo with 2 teaspoons rice vinegar).
– 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
– 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice.
– Salt and pepper to taste.
– 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil.
HOW TO SERVE KANI SALAD
It can be served as a main dish or as a side dish. If you are serving it as a main dish, you can place it in a bed of lettuce and sprinkle chopped green onions and sesame seeds on top. The lettuce leaves can also be used to wrap the salad and eat as a wrap. Also, you can cut seaweed into squares and use them to scoop the kani salad.
It goes perfectly well as a side dish for sushi, chicken teriyaki, yakisoba or any other Japanese entree.
CAN I STORE KANI SALAD?
You can store it for up to three days in the fridge, stored in an airtight container. I do not recommend freezing it.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST KANI SALAD
1. Pat dry the cucumber strips with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
2. Mix the salad gently using your hands so the julienne strips remain intact.
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- 16 oz shredded crab sticks (kani)
- 1 medium english cucumber cut into thin julienne
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thin julienne
- ½ cup kewpie (Asian mayo) or ½ cup regular mayo with 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons lime or lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the cucumber and carrot into thin julienne.
- Shred the kani.
- Make the dressing by mixing together the mayo, soy sauce, Sriracha, lemon juice, sesame seed oil, salt and pepper.
- Add the veggies and kani into the bowl with the dressing and gently mix until well combined.
1.Pat dry the cucumber strips with a paper towel to remove excess moisture
2.Mix the salad gently using your hands so the julienne strips remain intact.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 758mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 7g