Japanese Kani Salad Recipe – Easy Crab Stick Salad


With crunchy vegetables and flavorful crab sticks, Japanese Kani salad is a popular side dish served in sushi restaurants around the world. I’ll show you how to make this delicious, easy salad at home in this recipe.

Kani salad is a staple at sushi restaurants, and this delicious Crab Stick Salad with Cucumbers and Carrots is easy to make at home.

Kani Salad (カニカマサラダ)

Kani salad is a delicious Japanese seafood salad loaded with contrasting textures, tastes, and colors. Although known as Kani Salad in the West, the imitation crabmeat used to prepare the dish is called kanikama in Japanese, so in Japan the dish is known as Kanikama Sarada (カニカマサラダ).

Kani means “crab” in Japanese and kama is short for kamaboko, a traditional Japanese fish cake. Although it has “crab” in its name, kanikama is made from white fish such as pollock or cod. There is some debate as to who invented it, but it was created in the mid-1970s as a new style of kamaboko that tastes and textures similar to crabmeat. Combining these crab sticks with mayonnaise to make a salad has been around since the beginnings of kanikama, and imitation crab and Kani salad have since become popular around the world.

In my Kani salad recipe, I use a combination of crunchy vegetables and slippery glass noodles to create a contrast of tastes and textures, while the creamy mayo dressing is balanced with a refreshing splash of juice and zest. sour lemon.

Why does this recipe work?

  • Salting the vegetables to extract the water is a technique called shiomomi (literally “rubbed with salt”) in Japanese. It removes excess water from the vegetables, which prevents the salad from getting soggy. It also gives the vegetables a nice crunch that makes them similar to pickles.
  • Glass noodles add another layer of texture to the salad while fluffing it up.
  • A combination of Japanese mayonnaise and lemon zest/juice creates a creamy yet refreshing Kani dressing.
This easy kani salad recipe makes this plate a delicious crab stick salad in minutes.

Ingredients for Kani Salad

  • Crab sticks – Crab sticks or kanikama are a type of imitation crab made with seasoned surimi (fish paste) and shaped into textured sticks that look like crab meat.
  • Cucumber – Sliced ​​cucumbers bring a nice crunchy texture to Kani salad once salted and pressed. I recommend using a variety of thin-skinned, seedless cucumbers like Japanese, Lebanese, or Persian. English or greenhouse cucumbers will also work, but you’ll want to scoop out the seed portion with a spoon before slicing.
  • Carrot – Julienned carrots add a nice crunch and natural sweetness to the salad.
  • Vermicelli – Glass noodles, also called cellophane noodles, bean thread noodles and harusame, are transparent noodles made from starch. They have a nice smooth texture and add volume to this salad. Boiled shirataki noodles are a low-calorie alternative that can be substituted.
  • Black sesame seeds – Toasted black sesame seeds add visual contrast to the salad and add a nutty flavor and poppy texture. You can also use toasted white sesame seeds, but they won’t have the same color contrast.
  • Green onions – Chopped scallions give Kani salad a mild onion flavor that nicely complements the salty crab sticks. I also like to save some on the side to sprinkle on top as a garnish.
  • Mayonnaise – Although any type of mayonnaise will work in a pinch, I highly recommend using Japanese mayonnaise such as Kewpie. It tastes more tart and rich in umami than American mayo, which makes it well suited for this salad.
  • Lemon – Adding a little lemon zest and juice balances the creaminess of the mayonnaise, which prevents the salad from becoming too heavy. The lemon zest also gives Kani salad a fresh taste that dulls the fishy taste of the crab sticks. You can also use rice vinegar if you don’t have lemon on hand.

How to Make Kani Salad

The first thing you want to do is toss the cucumber slices and julienned carrots with the salt to help draw out their excess water. This keeps the salad from getting soggy when you combine it with the dressing while giving the vegetables a nice crunchy texture. Let them sweat while you prepare the other ingredients. Once the vegetables start to get soft, you can speed things up by massaging them with your hand until the cucumbers turn translucent. Pick up the vegetables with both hands and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Next, you want to rehydrate and cook the glass noodles by dipping them in a bowl of boiling water. How long it takes depends on how thick your noodles are, but mine took about 7 minutes until tender. Once cooked, you can drain them and rinse them in cold water. Be sure to squeeze out excess water with your hands before adding to the Kani salad.

For crab sticks, you want to shred them into thin strips by hand. It takes a bit of time, but the quickest way I’ve found to do this is to roll the poles between your hands, applying moderate pressure. This causes the sticks to fall apart and you can shred them the rest of the way with your fingers.

Add grated crab sticks, squeeze vegetables, cooked glass noodles, black sesame seeds, green onions and mayonnaise into a bowl. Zest half a lemon over the salad using a Microplane, then cut the lemon in half and squeeze some of the juice over the salad. How much lemon juice you add is a matter of personal preference, but I usually add about two teaspoons.

Mix everything to evenly distribute the ingredients. I like to serve my Kani salad on a bed of lettuce leaves topped with extra chopped green onions.

With shredded crab sticks, cucumbers and carrots in a creamy lemon dressing, kani salad is an easy Japanese side salad to make at home.

Variations on Kani Salad

There’s plenty of room to improvise in this recipe, and you can substitute it with other vegetables like julienned daikon radish or corn kernels. I also like to make a spicy Kani salad by adding a little sriracha or black pepper to the dressing. You can also add pineapple or mango for a bit more sweetness or fish roe like tobiko for a nice poppyseed texture.

Other Japanese salad recipes


What is Kani Salad?

Kani salad is a Japanese crab salad made with imitation crab and vegetables like carrots and cucumbers. It’s a popular side dish in sushi restaurants outside of Japan and a popular home dish in Japan, but it’s not something you’ll find on restaurant menus there.

Where can I get Kani Salad?

Kani salad commonly appears on the menus of modern sushi restaurants in the United States. However, it is an easy dish to make at home, so try this Kani salad recipe the next time you feel like it.

Can I use real crabmeat?

Yes, real crabmeat will work fine. If it was frozen once, you’ll want to squeeze it lightly to get rid of any excess water, so it doesn’t soggy the salad.

Is Kani salad an authentic Japanese dish?

Various salads, made with crab sticks and mayonnaise, have existed in Japan since kanikama was invented there. However, these are modern homemade dishes and are rarely found in restaurants in Japan. A notable exception are low-cost kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurants, which sometimes serve a mixture of shredded crab sticks and mayonnaise in gunkan maki.

How do you pronounce Kani Salad?

The Japanese name for Kani salad is kanikama saradaand it is pronounced as follows (read the parts in italics).

what to like copy
no to like knee
what to like copy
mom to like momhe
her to like socks
ra as the “ra“sound does not exist in the English language, and the best way to do that is to say the word”romp” with the tip of the tongue in front of the mouth.
a to like doyou

Kani Salad

Yield: 4 side parts

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes


  • 100

    (1 small cucumber, thinly sliced)

  • 80

    (in julienne)

  • 1/4
    coffee spoons


  • 20


  • 140

    crab sticks

  • 2
    coffee spoons

    black sesame seeds

  • ten

    Green onions
    (1 green onion, chopped)

  • 1/4
    Chopped off

    japanese mayonnaise

  • 2
    coffee spoons

    lemon juice

  • lemon zest

Nutritional intakes

Kani Salad

Amount per serving

calories 166
Calories from fat 99

% Daily Value*

Fat 11g17%

2g saturated fatten%

Trans fat 1g

Polyunsaturated fat 7g

Monounsaturated fat 3g

Cholesterol 10mg3%

Sodium 448mg19%

Potassium 116mg3%

Carbohydrates 14g5%

1g fiber4%

Sugar 3g3%

Protein 3g6%

Vitamin A 3393IU68%

Vitamin C 3mg4%

Calcium 24mg2%

The iron 1mg6%

*Percent Daily Values ​​are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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