Creamy, refreshing, and bursting with flavor! Kani mango salad often accompanies sushi or sashimi but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it on its own. It’s easy to prepare, taking less than ten minutes to do so, and features a fruity, sweet palate. You can add some tempura if you want to add some crunch to the texture or eat it as per the directions below!
Surprisingly, considering how few ingredients the kani salad requires, it punches way above its weight in flavor. A mango kani salad only requires kani (imitation crab), mango, cucumber, corn and a simple dressing of mayo, sesame oil, and lemon juice. Together, these ingredients combine to do what all the best cooking does, and deliver a meal greater than the sum of its parts. Yum!
Kani Mango Salad
Mango kani salad is a popular choice in Japanese eateries, whether customers are sitting in to eat or ordering takeout. Japanese cuisine often relies on meticulously balancing textures and flavors, and kani salad is no exception.
- Imitation crab has an inherently creamy texture, as does the salad dressing.
- Mango has a very up-front, nectary sweetness and a soft texture to complement this.
- The dressing also provides some aroma. The balance of salt and sweetness in Japanese food is delicious!
- By adjusting the cucumber-to-crab ratio, or throwing in some tempura, you can make your salad creamy or crunchy as per your own palate.
- Imitation crab is extremely affordable, making this a low-cost, easy option.
- Your mango kani salad takes less than ten minutes to prepare. It’ll be on your table long before other dishes are even prepared!
What is Kani Salad?
Kani is the Japanese word for crab. The kani we use for this salad refers to imitation crab meat, which looks just like real crab legs! Imitation crab is made from processed white fish and starch. This helps the fish meat to mimic the texture and flavor of crab.
You’ve probably seen crab sticks at your fish and chip shop or at the grocery store. These inexpensive treats are usually made from kani, and you can easily find them at most Asian grocery stores.
Mango Kani salad is a combination of these crab sticks, homemade dressing, cucumber, mango, corn. T The best way to prepare the dressing is to use Japanese mayonnaise, or Kewpie. However, you can use regular mayo as I did.
Mango Kani Salad Ingredients
- Crab sticks - these aren’t actually made of crab! Imitation crab, made from processed white fish and starch, is almost indistinguishable from the real thing, apart from its appealing low price. Kani sometimes has crab flavoring added but the dominant ingredient is white fish. We know what you’re thinking. If crab sticks are made from white fish, why are they red? In order to better imitate crab meat, the meat is cured and as part of this process some of the flesh turns red.
- Mango - the sweet, sticky, yellow flesh of the mango adds a burst of color and flavor to this salad. Delicious!
- Cucumber - Cucumbers add much by way of flavor to this recipe. The presence of cucumber is largely for the extra crunch.
- Corn-It adds some sweetness and pairs really well with other ingredients.
Kani Salad Dressing
- Mayo - this Japanese mayonnaise is creamier and smoother than most American mayonnaise. The Japanese make this mayo with rice vinegar, and it is available at almost all Asian grocers. Regular mayo will work well too.
- Lemon juice - It is mostly used to balance out the saltiness and fishy flavors of the other ingredients in this dish. You can replace it with rice vinegar.
- Sesame oil- It adds another depth of flavor.
How to Make Kani Mango Salad
- Trim off the ends of cucumber, remove the core with a spoon and cut into julienne strips.
- Unroll the crab sticks, stack the sheets together and cut into strips.
- Peel the mango and cut into julienne strips. I prefer to use ripe mango as it melts through the salad.
- In a small bowl mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil and black pepper.
- Combine kani, cucumber, mango, corn and salad dressing in a large bowl. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
Kani Salad Variations
Although you can make kani salad with real crab legs, this is rarely done. Kani salad is all about the crab sticks, even though real crab legs are delicious! An additional benefit of using imitation crab is that while genuine crab isn’t kosher, crab sticks are!
One of the great things about this salad is its versatility. Although it’s delicious as it is, you can add different types of fish roe or a different fruit, or even include shredded carrots.
If you really want to start playing with this recipe, you can vary the ratios of your ingredients. Foregoing the cucumber in your salad, and serving it on top of shredded cucumber will give your salad a creamier texture. Every bite will contain a little bit of crab, and the salad will have a smoother overall consistency.
This salad can also be served as a hand roll, wrapped in seaweed.
Imitation Crab Stick Recipes
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