Kani Salad

Imitation crab and pickled veggies have never tasted so good. Finish this kani salad recipe with a spicy sauce and crunchy tempura bits.

kani salad on turquoise plate

Rachel Marek. Food Styling: Annie Probst

Total Time:
1 hr 25 mins
3 cups

Imitation crab, kewpie mayo, and DIY pickled vegetables combine forces in this delicious kani salad recipe. Serve this refreshing salad with lettuce cups, Belgium endive, bias-cut English cucumber planks, and nori squares for a tasty take on the classic sushi starter.

If you're wondering what exactly imitation crab is, here's your crash course. Imitation crab is not made with crab—instead of crab, it uses a fish paste made from minced and washed white fish like pollock.

Mirin is another ingredient you'll need to make the kani salad dressing at home. To put it simply, it's a Japanese rice wine that's often responsible for that hard-to-describe umami flavor in many Japanese dishes. It's tangy yet sweet, but also richly flavored. It has more sugar and a lower alcohol content than its better-known relative, sake. It's hard to find in its pure form at your average grocery store, but several brands have 'aji-mirin,' which means 'tastes like mirin.' It has more added sweeteners than traditional mirin, but it works well in this homemade kani salad recipe!

Our Test Kitchen loves the crunch of topping this salad with homemade pickled veggies. This recipe is the perfect opportunity to try your hand at pickling your own vegetables. All you need is rice vinegar, mirin, reduced-sodium soy sauce, sugar, and kosher salt. What may seem like an intimidating process is actually incredibly simple—drop your vegetables into the mixture and leave it in the fridge for an hour. When you pull it out, voila! Your vegetables have been pickled. They really add the extra light vinegar kick and satisfying crunch to this kani salad.


Kani Salad

  • ¼ cup kewpie mayo

  • 1½ Tbsp. mirin

  • 2 to 3 tsp. sriracha

  • 8 ounces imitation crab meat, leg style

  • 2 Tbsp. tobiko (optional)

  • 1/2 cup pickled veggies

  • 2 Tbsp. tempura (optional)

Pickled Vegetables

  • ¾ cup rice vinegar

  • 3 Tbsp. mirin

  • 1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 Tbsp. sugar

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • cup carrot, shredded or cut into thin strips

  • cup daikon radish, cut into thin strips

  • ½ cup English cucumber, cut into thin strips


Kani Salad

  1. whisking together sriracha and kewpie mayo

    Rachel Marek

    In a medium bowl whisk together the kewpie mayo, mirin, and sriracha. Stir until the ingredients are completely combined.

  2. pulling apart imitation crab meat with forks

    Rachel Marek

    Using two forks, pull apart the imitation crab and add to bowl. Toss the crab with dressing to coat.

    Test Kitchen Tip: You want to end up with thin strands of imitation crab. This helps the dressing coat each bite.

    To serve, top the creamy imitation crab salad with the drained pickled vegetables, tobiko, and tempura bits (if using)

Pickled Vegetables

  1. mixing sauce for pickled vegetables in kani salad

    Rachel Marek

    In a medium bowl combine the rice vinegar, mirin, reduced-sodium soy sauce, sugar, and kosher salt. Mix until well combined.

  2. carrots, daikon, and cucumbers in pickled vegetables marinade

    Rachel Marek

    Toss in thinly sliced carrots, daikon radish, and English cucumber.

  3. bowl of pickled vegetables covered in plastic wrap

    Rachel Marek

    Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

86 Calories
2g Fat
12g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 86.4
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0.3g 2%
Cholesterol 8.7mg 3%
Sodium 501.4mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 12.3g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g 2%
Total Sugars 8.1g
Protein 2.8g
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Vitamin C 2.5mg 12%
Calcium 11.9mg 1%
Iron 0.3mg 1%
Potassium 91.8mg 2%
Fatty acids, total trans 0g
Vitamin D 0.1IU
Alanine 0.2g
Arginine 0.2g
Ash 1.7g
Aspartic acid 0.3g
Caffeine 0mg
Carotene, alpha 249.6mcg
Choline, total 7.7mg
Copper, Cu 0mg
Cystine 0g
Energy 361.2kJ
Fluoride, F 3.2mcg
Folate, total 4.8mcg
Glutamic acid 0.5g
Glycine 0.1g
Histidine 0.1g
Isoleucine 0.1g
Leucine 0.2g
Lysine 0.2g
Methionine 0.1g
Magnesium, Mg 17.2mg
Manganese, Mn 0.1mg
Niacin 0.3mg
Phosphorus, P 94.7mg
Pantothenic acid 0.1mg
Phenylalanine 0.1g
Phytosterols 1.2mg
Proline 0.1g
Retinol 1.1mcg
Selenium, Se 7.3mcg
Serine 0.2g
Starch 1.3g
Theobromine 0mg
Threonine 0.1g
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 0.4mg
Tryptophan 0g
Tyrosine 0.1g
Valine 0.1g
Vitamin A, IU 1204.5IU
Vitamin A, RAE 61.2mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.2mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 6.9mcg
Water 74.4g
Zinc, Zn 0.2mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Related Articles