Kani Salad

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5 from 78 votes
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This restaurant-style kani salad is packed with imitation crab meat, cucumber, and a creamy dressing. It’s light, fresh, and comes together in minutes.

Craving more Japanese appetizers? Try my harumaki, beef negimaki, yakitori, and Japanese potato salad next.

kani salad.

My favorite sushi restaurant side dish is the famous Japanese crab salad. Also known as a surimi salad, it’s made up of crab meat and julienne vegetables tossed through a sweet and creamy dressing. My kani salad recipe is one of my family’s most requested sides ever.

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients needed
  2. How to make a kani salad
  3. Arman’s recipe tips
  4. Storage instructions
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. More salad recipes you’ll enjoy
  7. Kani Salad (Recipe Card)

Why I love this recipe

  • It’s so easy! No complicated techniques or ingredients, making it perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings.
  • Perfect texture and flavor. This salad’s texture is creamy, with some crunch from the vegetables. It’s savory and subtly sweet, and despite its name, it has no fishy taste!
  • 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.

★★★★★ REVIEW

“I recently fixed this and will be making it MANY more times. That sauce is the bomb! I added edamame, green onions, and shrimp (plus fresh crab) to the salad and made it a full meal. Thanks for sharing. PS…. made it for friends who also loved it.” – Maryanne

spicy kani salad.

Ingredients needed

  • 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 or another seafood if you prefer.
  • Cucumber and carrot. Must-have vegetables. I prefer Persian cucumbers as they have less water in them, which is perfect for shredding.
  • Whole egg mayonnaise. For a more authentic flavor, you can use Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie mayo) which is a little sweeter than regular mayo.
  • 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 a kani salad

I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1- Make the salad base: Shred the crab meat and julienne the vegetables. Mix them together in a bowl.

Step 2- Make the dressing: Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.

Step 3- Combine: Stir through the dressing into the salad, followed by half the green onion and sesame seeds. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs on top.

    how to make kani salad.

    Arman’s recipe tips

    • 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 so that they blend well with the crab meat.
    • Mix very gently. Unlike other salads, this particular one is quite fragile, so mix the ingredients together very slowly and patiently to ensure all the elements remain intact.
    • Shred the crab meat by hand. I know it sounds messy, but it’s honestly so much easier than using a knife.

    Recipe variations

    • Use real crab meat instead of imitation crab sticks. It will make a significant difference in the taste of the salad.
    • Garnish with sesame seeds and fish roe. Toasted sesame seeds add a nutty flavor, and fish roe (tobiko) gives it that satisfying richness.
    • Make it vegetarian by omitting the crab meat for more vegetables.
    • 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.
    • Make it more substantial by adding noodles or shredded eggs to the salad.

    Storage instructions

    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.

    surimi salad.

    Frequently Asked Questions

     Can this salad be made ahead of time?

    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.

    How many calories are in kani salad?

    There are approximately 215 calories per serving of this salad.

    More salad recipes you’ll enjoy

    kani salad recipe.

    Kani Salad

    5 from 78 votes
    This restaurant-style kani salad is packed with imitation crab meat, cucumber, and a creamy dressing. It's light, fresh, and comes together in minutes. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen!
    Servings: 4 servings
    Prep: 5 minutes
    Total: 5 minutes

    Video

    Ingredients  

    • 2 1/2 ounces imitation crab meat surimi
    • 1/2 large carrot julienned
    • 1 large cucumber julienned

    kani salad dressing

    Instructions 

    • In a bowl, add the crab meat, julienne 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. 

    Notes

    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. 

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1servingCalories: 215kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 18gFat: 5gSodium: 379mgPotassium: 193mgFiber: 3gVitamin A: 1604IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 132mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 5g
    Course: Appetizer
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Author: Arman Liew
    Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

    Originally published January 2022, updated September 2023, and republished May 2024

    Arman Liew

    I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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    Comments

    1. 5 stars
      I recently fixed this and will be making it MANY more times. That sauce is the bomb! I added edamame, green onions and shrimp(plus fresh crab) to the salad and made it a full meal. Thanks for sharing. PS…. made it for friends who also loved it.

    2. This salad sounded so good but I didn’t have noodles so I used the bag of cole slaw that I had in the fridge. And i did put a little wasabi in the dressing. It worked great and was delicious!!! Thank you for sharing all the great recipes.

    3. I never heard of kelp noodles? But was thinking of using buckwheat noodles.
      And using a trader joes organic Coconut Aminos sauce on top.

    4. Hi JoAnna, I don’t think you cook the kelp noodles. You do have to rinse them out follow the package instructions. I looked up other recipes for this salad and none mentioned cooking them. The other thing I am going to try is zucchini noodles instead of the kelp to see how that goes. 🙂

    5. This looks great….never cooked with kelp noodles before. Do you have to cook them first before you put them in the salad? Thank you for all your great recipes! My family is THRILLED when they hear it’s a Big Man’s World recipe we are trying (which is often!!).