Kani salad or crab stick salad is a delicious Japanese-style crab salad made with shredded crab stick and julienned cucumber and carrots. It's tossed in a creamy mayo-based dressing made with fresh lemon juice and Kewpie mayo, a popular Japanese mayonnaise.
Kani salad or crab stick salad is a refreshing, easy salad that's full of crunchy texture and seafood flavor! It's typically served in Japanese-American restaurants or sushi restaurants as an appetizer or starter salad.
It makes a fantastic summer salad and can be made ahead and served cold. Perfect for picnics, potlucks, or BBQs! Best of all, it's ready in under 10 minutes with just a handful of ingredients!
What is kani salad?
Kani salad is a Japanese-style seafood salad made with crab stick. Kani literally translates to 'crab' in Japanese, hence kani salad means crab salad. Although fresh crab meat can be used, this is typically made with crab stick, which is imitation crab that's formed to resemble crab meat.
The dressing for kani salad is made with only three ingredients to not overwhelm the sweet and delicate flavor of the crab stick. The rest of the ingredients are kept simple - julienned cucumbers and carrots.
While imitation crab is called kanikama in Japanese, most know and refer to this salad as simply kani salad.
How to make kani salad
- Prep crab stick: Shred the crab stick into thin strands by pulling them apart by hand. Or for a faster method, use a fork and run it along the length of the crab stick while holding onto the other end.
- Vegetables: Next, julienne the English cucumber and carrots into thin strips.
- Dressing: Prepare the simple, 3-ingredient dressing by mixing Japanese mayo (Kewpie mayo) with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. For spicy kani salad, add a few teaspoons of sriracha sauce for some heat.
- Toss the shredded crab stick, carrots, and cucumbers with the dressing. Garnish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy!
This keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container. I don't recommend freezing this as the vegetables will get watery.
- 1 lb crab stick
- ½ large English cucumber - julienned
- 1 large carrot - julienned
- Dressing: In a small bowl, add the Japanese mayo and lemon juice then whisk them together. For spicy kani salad, add the sriracha. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.½ cup Japanese mayonnaise, 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons sriracha
- Shred crab stick: Shred the imitation crab stick by hand or use a fork by running it along the length of the crab stick while holding on to one end.1 lb crab stick
- Toss and serve: Add the shredded crab stick and julienned carrots and cucumber to a large bowl. Toss with as much or as little dressing as you'd like. Serve and enjoy!½ large English cucumber, 1 large carrot
✎ Recipe Notes
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.
Crab stick is an imitation crab that's made of white fish, usually pollack or cod, that's been pre-seasoned and formed to resemble crab meat. It does not contain any crab meat but has a sweet, subtle fish flavor and its delicate texture resembles crab meat.