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  • Sheena Philipose

Spicy Crab (Kani) Salad

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

How to Make Japanese Kani Salad

To cap off my salad series, this week I'm sharing a spicy crab salad, also called Kani salad. Spicy crab (Kani) salad is a tribute to balance: cool and spicy, silky and crisp, sweet and tart, light, and filling all at the same time. Featuring imitation crab and crunchy shredded cucumbers and carrots with slices of mango in a mayonnaise-based dressing, this colorful salad will definitely be an instant favorite. My version is an amalgamation of different recipes I found online and was borne out of a need to match the beloved salad I eat at 'Maki' Japanese restaurant.

spicy mango kani salad
How to Make Japanese Kani Salad Recipe

What is Kani?

Kani is the Japanese word for crab, though it also commonly used to refer to imitation crab meat. For this recipe, you can see How to Make Japanese Spicy Crab Salad and use either real crab or imitation crab, depending on what is available. Although real crab is fresh, the imitation crab is more true to the recipe and has a distinctly different flavor.

picture of a pot of crab sticks
Japanese Kani Salad Recipe

What is imitation crab?

Crab sticks, imitation crab meat, or seafood sticks are a type of seafood made of starch and finely pulverized white fish (surimi) that has been shaped and cured to resemble the leg meat of snow crab or Japanese spider crab. It's best for people who are allergic to shellfish to avoid eating crab sticks as they could contain traces of shellfish.

The addition of mango here is optional, I like to use an under ripe mango in the recipe, I like how the sourness of the mango goes well with the spiciness of the dressing and sweetness of the crab.

Tips to make a great Kani salad:

  • Getting the crab meat and vegetables cut as thinly as possible is time-consuming, but worth the effort.

  • Use iceberg lettuce or a mix of iceberg and romaine lettuce as they hold their shape well and give the proper texture. For extra crunch, wash the leaves in cold water with some ice cubes thrown in.

  • Keep tasting the dressing as you prepare and alter to suit your taste.

Here's a short video on how to make the salad


Japanese Spicy Crab Kani Salad Recipe

Spicy Crab (Kani) Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

picture of spicy crab or Kani Salad
Japanese Kani Salad Recipe


For the salad:

  • 2 cups or a small head of iceberg/romaine lettuce or mix

  • Carb sticks, around 16 sticks or a small packet

  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded

  • 1 cucumber, cored and shredded

  • 1 mango not fully ripe, peeled and shredded (optional)

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar

  • 1/2 Tsp sugar

  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha

  • 1/2 Tsp paprika

  • 1/2 Tsp mustard

  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

  • Pinch of salt and pepper

  1. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the spicy mayo dressing. Whisk together the mayonnaise, rice vinegar, mustard, lemon, sugar, sriracha and salt until creamy and set aside.

  2. Wash and tear the lettuce into bite size pieces. Cut the cucumber, carrot, and mango (if using) into thin, julienned pieces.

  3. Pull apart the crab meat into thin strands, similar to the vegetables.

  4. In a bowl, combine the vegetables and crab. Pour in the dressing, mix, and spread on top of the dried lettuce leaves.

  5. Top salad with Panko breadcrumbs and enjoy!

How to Make Spicy Crab Salad

Spicy Mango Kani Salad is a delicious, colorful fresh salad that features imitation crab as its meat of choice.

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