Spicy Kani Salad Recipe

Skip the take out and make this easy Spicy Kani Salad recipe at home in minutes. Refreshing and simple, this imitation crab salad combines cucumber, mango and carrot in a creamy, light dressing that’s perfect for a light lunch or dinner.

Kani Salad on a bed of lettuce with spicy sauce in the background.

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We order sushi a ton and our usual go to Japanese restaurant has a wide selection of Japanese items to choose from. It’s a good way to try things we wouldn’t normally make at home. And, although, my go-to is always a Spicy Tuna Sundae I almost always order the Spicy Kani Salad.  

And, although, Kani Salad isn’t a traditional Japanese dish it is served in most American Japanese restaurants so most of you may have already heard about this little gem. The main ingredient in this salad is Kani….if you haven’t guessed already.

Close up of crab and cucumber salad on a bed of lettuce.

WHAT IS KANI

Kani is, actually, just imitation crabmeat. You know, the crab stick with the red on the side that’s made out of pollock or other mild white fish which is processed to form a paste called surimi.  It flakes easily, just like crab, and tastes almost identical to crabmeat.

Kani means “crab” in Japanese and is commonly found in many Japanese dishes like sushi or salads.  We usually order Kani sashimi on top of our seaweed salads for an extra dose of protein. It’s also known as Kani Kamaboko or just Kamikama.

Kani Salad on a bed of lettuce with chopsticks.

WHAT IS KANI SALAD MADE OF

Kani salad is made with very simple ingredients so be sure to find high quality ingredients to maximize the flavor.  This recipe uses Japanese Mayonnaise (Kewpie Asian Mayonnaise) which is creamier and uses rice vinegar instead of regular distilled white vinegar. 

If you can’t find Japanese Mayo, regular mayonnaise will be fine.  I order mine online and one bottle lasts a pretty long time.

Ingredients for Kani Salad:

  • Kani – Imitation Crab Stick, there’s really no substitute here.  And don’t bother trying to up the ante with real crab because it just won’t be the same. Save your money.
  • Cucumber – I like to use an English cucumber here because it’s seedless so you won’t really have too much work messing with removing the seeds. It’s not a big deal if you can only get your hands on a regular cucumber, though.
  • Carrots – If you can find already shredded or “shoestring cut” carrots, it’s a huge timesaver.
  • Mango – Make sure you grab a mango that’s still firm but gives a little so you know it’s going to be juicy. OR, if your grocery store sells precut mango grab it.  You’ll save a ton of time.
  • Japanese Mayo – So much more flavor than regular mayo….I think it has fish sauce or something in it to give it that umami flavor. But if you can’t find it, don’t stress…just use regular mayo with a drop or two of fish sauce. 
  • Lemon – Just a regular, run of the mill lemon…nothing fancy.
  • Salt and Pepper

Ingredients for kani salad.

Extra Mix Ins:

While this salad is fabulous on it’s own, you can add a few other things to make it your own.  I sprinkled a bit of Flying Fish Roe (Tobiko) on top along with some sesame seeds for crunch. I love the texture of both.

You can also add avocado, Kelp Noodles (rice noodles) or corn kernels for some added crunch!

HOW TO MAKE IT

Most of the prep time will be spent chopping and slicing but the investment is well worth it.  And, honestly, it will only take you about 10-15 minutes tops to pull this together.

  1. Whisk together the dressing; mayonnaise, Sriracha, lemon juice, lemon zest, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Peel and cut the cucumber. Remove the seeds and cut into long thin strips.
  3. Peel and cut the carrots. If you are using matchstick carrots, you can skip this step.
  4. Peel and cut the mango into long thin strips.
  5. Shred the crabmeat into thin strips.
  6. Add the cucumbers, carrots, mango and crab to a bowl. 
  7. Pour the dressing over the ingredients.
  8. Toss the salad to combine.

Overhead shot of ingredients for kani salad in a bowl.

HOW TO SERVE

We love to serve this salad as a first course or light lunch. Otherwise, we serve it alongside grilled Teriyaki Chicken or with this sweet and spicy Salmon.  

You can also serve it just on top of a few lettuce leaves and eat it like a low carb wrap.  So simple and versatile.

Kani Salad on a bed of lettuce with tobiko in the background.

STORAGE TIPS

To store your Kani Salad, simply transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

I do not recommend freezing this salad because the texture will change, it’s definitely better fresher!

If you love this recipe, you may also like these easy salad recipes!  Definitely try this Asian Ramen Noodle Salad….another americanized classic but the crunch is outstanding! Or you may also love this Easy Shrimp Ceviche....it’s no cook and ready in minutes.

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Kani Salad on a bed of lettuce with spicy sauce in the background.

Spicy Kani Salad Recipe

Kellie
Quick and easy, this classic Kani Salad Recipe is a staple in Japanese Sushi restaurants. You can now make it at home in minutes!
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer, lunch, Snack
Cuisine American, Japanese
Servings 8
Calories 169 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 14 ounces Kani imitation crab meat
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1/2 cup Japanese mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • salt
  • ground pepper

Instructions
 

  • Peel the carrots. Cut in half and then cut into julienne strips. (Or use matchstick cut carrots)
  • Peel the cucumbers and cut in half. Remove the seeds. Cut the cucumber into long thin strips.
  • Shred the crab sticks by hand by gently pressing the ends to loosen the strips and then peel the crab into strips.
  • Peel the ripe mango. Cut into thin slices until you reach the core. Repeat with the opposite side of the core. Stack the slices together and cut into strips.
  • In a large bowl, add the cucumber, carrots, crab, and mango.
  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha, soy sauce, lemon juice and zest.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste and toss the salad to combine.
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Notes

Kani Salad can be made up to 3 days in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 169kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 3gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 416mgPotassium: 119mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1590IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Keyword crab and cucumber, Crab salad, kani, kani salad
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