You’ve probably tried kanikama at some point in your life, whether you were aware of that or not. If you’ve eaten sushi before, the chances are you’ve had kanikama in it. Although this ingredient is pretty popular, especially in Asian cuisine, not many people know what kanikama is, how to make it, or what ingredients you can find.
However, if you came across kanikama as one of the ingredients on the menu the last time you ate out or found it in your local supermarket while you were grocery shopping, you must be curious to learn more about this unique item.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re interested in learning more about kanikama or just want some helpful preparation tips, you can find all the relevant information here.
What is kanikama?
Kanikama or kani, shorter versions of the Japanese word kani-kamaboko, can be translated as crab fish cakes.
Kanikama refers to sticks made out of imitation crab meat. More precisely, kanikama is made out of surimi, a white fish paste made from ground What Are the Materials That Make Up Kanikama? varieties of fish to make the texture and taste as close to the real crab meat as possible. Therefore, people often use it as a more affordable substitute for expensive crab meat.
Kanikama is a common ingredient in crab cakes, crab rangoons, and sushi, especially the spicy crab roll and all the California rolls. It is white on the inside, with a distinctive bright orange or red color on the outside. To find out what is kanikama, we must first discuss this product’s flavor, ingredients, and nutritional value.
What does kanikama taste like?
Since kanikama was designed to imitate crab meat, that’s precisely what it tastes like precisely. It’s specifically designed to resemble the taste of cooked crab meat. As such, it also has low fat and cholesterol levels, similar to real crab meat.
Regarding taste, kanikama has a relatively mild flavor with a pinch of sweetness. Some people don’t taste the difference between the more affordable kanikama and the costly crab meat, especially if they haven’t had the opportunity to experiment with the two ingredients.
Nevertheless, kanikama doesn’t replicate the rich, delicate flavor that only comes with real crab meat. Still, it’s a good alternative for everyone interested in trying something similar.
What is kanikama made of?
The main ingredient of kanikama is surimi – a white fish paste that usually accounts for 50% of the total weight. Surimi is made from fish filets, including Alaskan pollock, whiting, and bream. In addition to surimi, other essential ingredients are starch, water, vegetable oil, egg whites or soy, sugar and sorbitol, and salt.
Once all the essential components are blended, food companies add preservatives, additives, and other binding ingredients, such as gum, monosodium glutamate, and red food coloring. Other preservatives and flavorings are used, too, including crab extract, mirin, and sodium benzoate.
These components add to the product’s taste, color, and stability and extend its shelf life.
What is the nutritional value of kanikama?
Kanikama and real crab meat have an almost identical number of calories. With approximately 80 to 82 calories in one serving (3oz), they make for reasonably low-calorie food products. Nevertheless, the source of these calories is a lot different. While 85% of crab meat calories come from protein, 61% of kanikama’s calories come from carbs.
With that in mind, kanikama has a lower content of protein, omega-3 fats, vitamins, selenium, and zinc. Even though it has low cholesterol, fat, and sodium levels, it’s a slightly less healthy option than real crab meat, which is packed with more protein and nutrients. Still, kanikama makes for a reasonably good snack if eaten in moderation.
What types of kanikama are available?
Kanikama comes in several different forms. If you head into your local grocery store, you might find the following types of kanikama:
- Kanikama sticks
Sticks are the most common shape of kanikama. The sticks are designed to resemble the limbs of crabs by coloring the outside edges with a red tint. Kanikama sticks are commonly used in sandwich wraps and sushi rolls.
- Shredded kanikama
Shredded kanikama is best for making salads, fish tacos, and crab cakes.
- Kanikama chunks
Flake-style kanikama or kanikama chunks are used in chowders, stir-fries, quesadillas, and pizza toppings.
How to prepare kanikama?
If you’ve purchased kanikama sticks, shreds, or chunks but don’t know how to prepare them, don’t worry. Kanikama usually comes frozen and pre-steamed, so it can be consumed as is, with no preparation required. You can also cook kanikama, but remember that too much heat destroys this product’s taste and texture.
Most people add kanikama in the final stage to minimize the cooking process and keep the characteristics unchanged.
You can find kanikama as one of the main ingredients in sushi or other delicious dishes from Asian cuisine. It is an excellent alternative to real crab meat, as kanikama has a similar taste and texture but costs considerably less than the real thing! Even if you’ve never tried kanikama, this is your chance to give it a go.