December 27, 2021

Spicy Kani Salad (Japanese Imitation Crab Salad)

This Spicy Kani Salad is inspired by one of my favorite versions of the Japanese crab salads from a nearby sushi restaurant.

MONIQUE SOURINHO - food photographer, stylist, recipe developer, and professional taste tester. Nothing fills my cup more than connecting with like-minded people (especially over a great meal). To learn more click here.

This Spicy Kani Salad is inspired by one of my favorite versions of the Japanese crab salads from a nearby sushi restaurant. The word, “kani” translates to “crab” in Japanese. Though, this salad is made of imitation crab, it is just as tasty, and awesomely refreshing. It’s creamy thanks to the Kewpie mayo, has a good spicy kick, and sports a crispy texture from the julienned cucumbers, bell peppers, and flakes of tempura. Most Kani salads I encountered had sriracha, but what makes this version stand out is the hot sesame oil, which adds an un-matched nuttiness. Instead of regular soy sauce, this version sports ponzu, as well as lemon zest, for a boost of citrus. Having said that, I would love to hear your thoughts on this take of the classic. To try for yourself, scroll for the recipe below.


Spicy Kani Salad

TIME: 20 MIN
SERVES: 4+

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. package Imitation Crab (leg style)
  • 1 1/2 cup cucumber (about 1 English cucumber), julienned
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup Kewpie Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs ponzu sauce
  • 1 Tbs sriracha sauce
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs Hot Sesame Oil (more or less to heat preference)
  • 1/2 cup tempura flakes (or panko crumbs)
  • 1 oz. Wild Salmon Caviar (optional)

Kani Salad Method:

  1. Unravel each roll of imitation crab, then stack each sheet on top of each other. Then, thinly julienne the crab, cucumber, and bell pepper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients except the salmon caviar and tempura flakes, then toss to coat. Taste test and adjust.
  3. Enjoy right away or chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, toss again with tempura flakes, then divide into bowls. Finish by garnishing with salmon caviar (or tobiko, optional), then share, and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Ari of Well Seasoned Studio has another version that is equally delicious! She has fantastic step-by-step visuals too. Feel free to share some love!
  • As a chili sesame oil alternative, Trader Joe’s recently launched their version of the oil for just $2.69.
  • For other delicious recipes to create or pair alongside, visit the Kitchen Journal.