Imitation crab sticks, or Kanikama in Japanese, are made of starch, egg whites, and pureed white fish. They are shaped and cured to the shape of snow crab leg meat.
Imitation crab sticks, or Kanikama (カニカマ) in Japanese, are a seafood product made of starch and finely pureed white fish (surimi すり身) seasoned with crab extract.
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What Are Imitation Crab Sticks
Imitation crab sticks are a fish-based product shaped and cured to resemble the leg meat of snow crabs or Japanese spider crabs. As real crab meat is expensive, imitation crab meat is cheaper and used in everyday cooking. The base is white fish, such as Alaskan pollock with other ingredients like starch, flavorings (usually monosodium glutamate), and additives.
There are several origin stories where many Japanese seafood manufacturing companies claim to be the inventor.
Other names include Krab Sticks, Ocean Sticks, and Sea Legs.
What Do They Taste Like
It has a mild fishy taste due to the crab flavoring (artificial or natural) and mimics the color and texture of crab. It shreds into thin strings or flakes.
How To Use
Since they are already pre-cooked, you can eat them as is or add them directly to seafood salads, soups, noodles, sandwiches, or sushi rolls. You could also use them to make crab cakes or crab rangoon.
Recipes Using Imitation Crab Sticks
Where To Buy
Find packages in the refrigerator aisle of Asian and Japanese grocery stores, next to other seafood products. I recommend Japanese brands because they easily shred thin pieces and taste better.