This kani salad recipe is creamy, slightly spicy, and comes together in less than five minutes! Also known as surimi salad, it’s so easy to prep and tastes like something you’d find at a Japanese restaurant.
If you love Japanese-style salads, this kani salad recipe has to make your menu.
If you are unfamiliar with what kani is, it’s a Japanese crab salad that is a staple in any sushi restaurant. It’s made up of crab meat and julienne vegetables doused in a sweet, spicy, and creamy dressing.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
This salad may look incredibly fancy, but I promise you, it is so easy to whip up.
- It’s so easy! This quick recipe doesn’t require complicated techniques or ingredients, making it perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings.
- Perfect texture and flavor. The texture of this salad is creamy with some crunch from the vegetables. It’s savory and subtly sweet and has no fishy taste, despite its name!
- Easy to customize. This salad can be customized with your preferred vegetables or dressing to suit your taste preferences or dietary needs. You can even add some heat for a spicy salad.
This Japanese kani salad is so easy and besides the surimi and seasonings, there isn’t much else needed to make. Here is what you’ll need:
- Surimi (Imitation crab meat). Crab meat is a mix of white fish (typically pollock) and flour to create a delicious crab-like texture and flavor. You can use real crab meat if you prefer.
- Cucumber and carrot- Must-have vegetables in any good spicy kani salad. These should be julienne and/or sliced into very thin strips.
- Mayonnaise– For a more authentic flavor, you can use Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie mayo) which is a little sweeter than traditional mayonnaise.
- Sugar – To balance out the spice and the tang. White sugar, brown sugar, or coconut sugar works.
- Rice vinegar– Optional, but a touch of this gives it that authentic flavor.
- Lemon juice– Just a touch to balance out the creamy and rich ingredients.
How to make kani salad
Surimi salad is easy to make: just remember to julienne your vegetables evenly.
- Make the salad base: Mix the crabmeat and vegetables in a mixing bowl.
- Make the dressing: Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Combine: Stir through the dressing into the salad, followed by half the green onion and sesame seeds. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs on top.
Tips to make the best recipe
Chill the salad: Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This will help the flavors to blend.
Cut vegetables into thin strips: Cut vegetables like cucumber and carrots into thin strips so that they blend well with the crab meat.
Mix very gently: Unlike other salads, this particular one is quite fragile, so when mixing the ingredients together, do it very slowly and patiently to ensure all the elements remain intact.
- Use real crab meat: Use real crab meat instead of imitation crab meat. It will make a significant difference in the taste of the salad.
- Add sesame seeds and fish roe: Toasted sesame seeds add a nutty flavor, and fish roe (tobiko) gives it that satisfying richness.
- Mango kani salad: Add sliced mango for a sweet element.
- Spicy kani salad: Add a little bit of sriracha or hot sauce, or swap out the mayo for spicy mayo for some kick.
To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Try to keep the dressing separate from the salad, so that it remains crunchy and fresh.
More Japanese appetizers to try
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this salad can be made ahead of time and chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. However, the vegetables may become slightly wilted if left for too long.
You can make a vegetarian version of this salad by omitting the crab meat and adding more vegetables or tofu.
There are approximately 215 calories per serving of this salad.
- 2.5 oz imitation crab meat surimi
- 1/2 large carrot julienned
- 1 large cucumber julienned
- In a bowl, add the crab meat, julienned cucumber and carrot.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, and sriracha, if using it.
- Combine the dressing over the salad and mix until well combined.
- Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the panko breadcrumbs.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.