Imitation Crab Recipes

Cooking imitation crab at home involves a process known as kamaboko a type of Japanese fish cake, which can then be flavored and colored to mimic crab meat’s texture and taste. This recipe will guide you through making the fish paste (surimi), shaping, cooking, and finally seasoning to achieve the characteristic imitation crab appearance and flavor.

Ingredients With Pictures


  1. White Fish Fillets (like cod, pollock, or tilapia) – 500g, skinless and boneless
  2. Egg White – from 1 large egg
  3. Cornstarch – 2 tablespoons
  4. Sugar – 1 teaspoon
  5. Salt – 1 teaspoon
  6. MSG (optional) – ½ teaspoon to enhance flavor
  7. Red Food Coloring – a few drops for color
  8. Water – 2 tablespoons

Imitation Carb Recipe

Step 1: Prepare the fish paste (Surimi)

  1. 1. Cut the fish fillets into small chunks to ensure they blend smoothly.
  2. 2. Blend the fish with the egg white, cornstarch, sugar, salt, MSG (if using), and water until you get a smooth, sticky paste.

Step 2: Shape the surimi

  1. Divide the paste into two portions. Mix a few drops of red food coloring into one portion to mimic the crab’s natural color variations.
  2. Roll out the paste into logs or the desired shape of crab sticks. You can use plastic wrap to help shape them uniformly.

Cook the Surimi

  1. Steam or boil the shaped surimi until it’s firm and cooked through, about 20-30 minutes depending on size. Ensure it’s fully cooked to achieve the right texture.

Cool and Serve

  1. Let the surimi cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator. Once chilled, it’s ready to be sliced and used as imitation crab in your favorite recipes.

Nutritional Overview

Imitation crab, often marketed as “crab sticks,” “krab,” or “seafood sticks,” is a popular ingredient found in various dishes, from seafood salads to sushi rolls. Despite its name, imitation crab does not contain real crab, but rather it is a processed seafood product made primarily from surimi—a paste made from white-fleshed fish, typically pollock, mixed with fillers and flavorings to mimic the taste, color, and texture of crab meat. While imitation crab offers certain benefits, such as affordability and ease of preparation, it’s essential to consider its nutritional content and potential health implications.

Nutritional Overview

Imitation crab is lower in calories and fat compared to real crab meat, making it an appealing option for those looking to manage their weight. A 3-ounce serving typically contains about 80-100 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, and around 15-20 grams of protein. However, it’s worth noting that this protein is less complete compared to the protein found in real crab, as it lacks some essential amino acids.

High in Processed Ingredients

One of the significant drawbacks of imitation crab is its high content of processed ingredients, including wheat starch, sugar, egg whites, and additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial flavors. These additives can increase the sodium content significantly, with some products containing as much as 500-900 mg of sodium per serving, which is a substantial portion of the recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg.

Allergen Considerations

For individuals with dietary restrictions or allergies, imitation crab presents a few concerns. It often contains gluten (from wheat starch) and egg whites, making it unsuitable for those with gluten intolerance or egg allergies. Moreover, because it’s made from fish, it’s not an option for those with fish allergies.

Mercury Content

A benefit of imitation crab is its low mercury content, making it a safer choice for pregnant women and young children compared to certain types of real crab and other seafood known for higher mercury levels. This aspect makes it a more frequent seafood option for these groups, provided other allergens are not a concern.

Nutritional Benefits

Despite its processed nature, imitation crab can offer some nutritional benefits. It’s a source of essential nutrients such as phosphorus, selenium, and some B vitamins. Phosphorus contributes to the formation of bones and teeth, selenium acts as an antioxidant, and B vitamins are crucial for energy metabolism.

Healthier Consumption Tips

To consume imitation crab in a healthier manner, consider the following tips:

  • Limit intake to occasionally, rather than regularly, to reduce exposure to high sodium and additives.
  • Look for brands with fewer additives and lower sodium content.
  • Incorporate it into dishes with plenty of vegetables to boost the meal’s overall nutritional value.


While imitation crab offers convenience and affordability, it’s important to be mindful of its processed nature, high sodium content, and potential allergens. Moderation is key, as well as paying attention to the product’s ingredients list. For a healthier diet, balancing imitation crab with whole, minimally processed foods and a variety of protein sources can help ensure a well-rounded nutritional intake.

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