Cookbook:Imitation Crab

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Imitation Crab

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Imitation crab meat, also called kani or crabstick,[1][2] is a type of processed seafood made of finely pulverized white fish flesh.



To make imitation crab, white fish such as pollock, whiting, tilapia, or cod is finely chopped to make a paste,[2][3] then mixed with binders like starch and egg. This mixture is flavored with crab extract to give it the correct flavor.[3] The paste is shaped into stringy sticks,[1] much like the meat extracted from real king and snow crabs, and food coloring is applied to the outside to mimic a natural appearance.[1][4]

Selection and storage


As it is fully cooked and sometimes pasteurized, imitation crab meat has a much longer life than either fresh or cooked crab meat.[4] It should be stored per the directions on the package—usually, refrigeration is still required.

The primary benefits of imitation crab are accessibility and cheaper price point. Since it is not a perfect crab mimic, the imitation product is best used in dishes where crab is not the star ingredient. For example, seafood salads, chowders, dips, and dumplings can all use imitation crab,[1][2] since these applications chop it up and combine it with other ingredients. California rolls are another common dish that incorporates imitation crab.[1]



Obviously, real crab meat (especially crab leg meat) makes a perfectly fine substitute for imitation crab.




  1. a b c d e "What Is Imitation Crab ("Kani")?". Food Network. Retrieved 2024-05-09.
  2. a b c "What Is Imitation Crab and How Is It Made?". Allrecipes. Retrieved 2024-05-09.
  3. a b Naillon, Buffy (2023-12-19). "What Exactly Is Imitation Crab Meat And How Do You Cook With It?". Chowhound. Retrieved 2024-05-09.
  4. a b America, Culinary Institute of; Ainsworth, Mark (2009-02-04). Kitchen Pro Series: Guide to Fish and Seafood Identification, Fabrication and Utilization. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4354-0036-8.