Kani Salad (Japanese Crab Salad)

Kani Salad (Japanese Crab Salad) recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Your appetizer for dinner tonight is ready!  It’s a Japanese Crab Salad (Kani Salad).  I know, it sounds elaborate or complicated, but all the ingredients for this simple salad are probably in your kitchen right now.

Crab sticks, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, mayo, rice vinegar or lemon juice, sesame oil, and a crunchy topping like rice crackers (crumbled up), panko flakes, or our Japanese Sesame Seasoning (gomashio).

Japanese Sesame Seasoning (gomashio) available at SeasonWithSpice.com

Kani Salad isn’t a traditional Japanese dish, but like California rolls, it has become a standard on Japanese menus in the US & Canada.

That leaves plenty of room for interpretation when making the salad, so have fun with it.  Just start with thinly shredded crab sticks, and add in some crisp, crunchy vegetables & fruits.  Cucumber, carrot, and lettuce are the basics, but add in mango and sweet corn if you have them in your kitchen.

crab sticks for kani salad
kani salad ingredients
lettuce for kani salad recipe

Toss the salad with a creamy mayo dressing – a simple 3 ingredient combination of mayo, rice vinegar or lemon juice, and toasted sesame oil.

For the mayo, I recommend using the Japanese brand Kewpie for this dressing, since it has just the right tart flavor for the salad.  But an American brand mayo will work fine too – just add in a little extra rice vinegar or lemon juice.

Finally, to add a nice contrast of textures to the dish, top the salad with our Japanese Sesame Seasoning (gomashio) – a crunchy blend of toasted white sesame seeds, roasted black sesame seeds, wildcrafted nori flakes, Himalayan pink salt, and Aleppo chili flakes.

Kani Salad by SeasonWithSpice.com

Colorful and light, this Kani Salad will be a hit as an appetizer.

If you have kids, I think they will like it too – just let them help with the prep.  They can peel the crab sticks, while you slice the veggies and mix the dressing.  Then when it’s ready, have them practice their chopstick skills to toss the salad.  When kids assist in dinner, they not only learn basic cooking skills, but also become more willing to try new foods they helped create.

Kani Salad (Japanese Crab Salad) by SeasonWithSpice.com
Kani Salad (Japanese Crab Salad)
by SeasonWithSpice
Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 package crab sticks (surimi)
1 English cucumber – peeled, then sliced into thin matchsticks
1 carrot – peeled, then sliced into thin matchsticks
A few leaves of romaine or iceberg lettuce – shredded
1 tbsp of Season with Spice’s Japanese Sesame Seasoning (gomashio)

1/4 cup mayonnaise (try Japanese Kewpie brand)
2 tsp rice vinegar, or lemon juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Optional add-ons:
Mango – thinly shredded
Sweet corn kernels

1. Use your hands to peel the crab sticks into thin strips. Then add them into a large bowl along with the cucumber, carrot, and lettuce. Toss well.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to coat evenly. Have a taste, and adjust seasonings if needed. When ready to serve, top with Japanese Sesame Seasoning and gently toss again.