Kani Salad

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Last Updated on December 16, 2023

Cooking different cuisines takes you on visa-free trips to many countries around the world, be it an Italian pizza, a Japanese salad, or an Indian butter chicken plate. Today, I’ll take you on a hike up Mount Fuji and let you stroll under the colossal Tokyo Skytree with my tasty Kani salad recipe.

Kani salad is a Japanese crab salad that contains imitation crab meat instead of real crab. It put all bland salads to shame with its ideal combination of creaminess, zestiness, and spiciness. In short, it rules the world of savory salads.

And luckily for you, I’ll give you an easy spicy Kani salad recipe that won’t take you more than 20 minutes to make.


Kani Salad in a bowl

Before jumping right into chopping and mixing, I’ll tell you the right ingredients for Kani salad. This way, you can prepare them before cooking.

Salad Ingredients

  • 250 grams of imitation crab meat
  • 300 grams of glass or kelp noodles (optional)
  • One carrot
  • One cucumber
  • Two scallions
  • Panko breadcrumbs or black sesame seeds
  • One mango

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of Japanese mayonnaise
  • One teaspoon of seasoned rice vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • One teaspoon of Sriracha sauce

How to Make Kani Salad

Kani Salad

Level: Easy

Prep Time: 20 mins

Yield: 1-2 servings

Now that you have all your ingredients ready on the kitchen counter, it’s time to make a delicious spicy Kani salad!

1. Cook the Noodles

The first step is to cook the kelp noodles. You should know that using noodles to make spicy Kani salad is optional, so you can skip this step. But I prefer adding them to make the salad more fulfilling.

If you decide to add them, you should start the recipe by boiling them because they’ll take time. So while your noodles boil, you should complete the rest of the recipe.

First, boil your noodles for about 15 minutes. Then, drain them from water, rinse them with cold water, and leave them to cool.

2. Chop the Solid Ingredients

Ingredients to made Kani Salad

The term ‘cooking’ in this recipe can be well replaced with ‘chopping’ because of how much you’ll need to do it. To begin with, you should chop the mango, carrot, and cucumber into thin strips.

A trick I like to do here is to scrape the heart of the cucumber before cutting it. This way, the cucumber will be more solid and won’t add extra water to the salad. You can use the cucumber scrapes in the dressing or as a fancy addition on top of the dish before serving it.

Next, you should shred your crab sticks till they’re as thin as your other ingredients. Although you can use real crab meat for this salad, I prefer sticking to the authentic recipe and using imitation crab sticks, also known as Kanikama. Kanikama sticks are made from white pollock fish and starch. They look and taste just like original crab sticks.

Finally, cut the two scallions into small pieces. After preparing the shredded crab sticks and vegetables, put them aside and go on to the next step.

3. Prepare the Spicy Japanese Mayonnaise Dressing

Spicy Mayo ingredients in a bowl

Making a dressing for your spicy Kani salad is the easiest step. All you have to do is mix your dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

On a side note, you don’t need to stick to the recipe when adding salt and pepper. Instead, you can add them to taste.

Some people use regular mayonnaise for this recipe, but Japanese mayonnaise has a richer taste and a creamier consistency, so it complements the other ingredients better.

Also, you can use either lemon juice or rice vinegar here. But I recommend using rice vinegar because it has a perfect balance of sweet and sour, as opposed to the overwhelming zestiness of lemon juice.

4. Mix the Salad

Sliced crab, cucumber, mango and black sesame seeds in a bowl

Now, it’s time for your Kani salad to take shape. First, mix the vegetables, imitation crab sticks, and noodles in a large bowl. But make sure the noodles are completely drained and aren’t dripping water.

Next, add the Kani salad dressing and mix the salad with tongs carefully. Using tongs is essential to avoid breaking the thin strips of vegetables. Finally, toss your salad until the dressing is spread evenly throughout the plate.

Some people prefer layering the ingredients and putting the dressing in a bowl on the side. But I’m all about delicious chaos when eating!

5. Serve Your Kani Salad

Two bowls of dry kani salad in bowls with spicy mayo sauce on the side

You can make your Kani salad up to three days before eating it. Then, store it in the refrigerator and take it out when you’re hungry. In my opinion, it tastes best a day after making it because the flavor settles, and the texture becomes even creamier.

Don’t store it in the freezer, though. Doing so will affect its taste and make it soggy.

Before serving your salad, add scallions and black sesame seeds on top for an extra crunch. You can replace sesame seeds with panko if you want. It has the same effect and is just as delicious.

Tips and Tricks to Make Your Kani Salad Exceptional

I’ll tell you a few tips and tricks that I like to add to my spicy Kani salad recipe from time to time to make it exceptional.

First, when I’m in the mood for a bit of a salty taste amidst all the sweetness, I add a teaspoon of soy sauce to the dressing. If you want to try it but are afraid of the salty taste, you can use salt-reduced soy sauce or add only a half teaspoon.

Also, when I have enough time before lunch, I push the salad into the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Eating it chilled makes for a richer taste and a perfect consistency. Not to mention, it’s so refreshing on a hot summer day. But if you plan on doing so, don’t add panko or sesame seeds until before serving.

Leaving panko in the refrigerator will make it completely soaked by the time you take it out, resulting in an unattractive look.

Another trick I like to do often is to sprinkle fish roe on top of the salad before serving it. Doing so adds a dash of briny taste to the dish, making it more worthy of the Japanese salad cuisine. You can also add some shrimp tempura if you want to go all fancy in a family dinner.

If you don’t want extra carbs on your plate but don’t want to ditch the noodles, you can use zucchini noodles or cucumber noodles instead. But I recommend using zucchini because the salad already has cucumbers.

Finally, if you don’t like mangos, you can replace them with pineapples for your Japanese crab salad. Pineapples will add the same sweet and sour taste to the dish, making it equally delicious.

What to Serve With Kani Salad

If you’re preparing dinner for your family and friends, your delicious crab salad won’t cut it. You’ll need to cook other dishes along with it, and I have just the perfect list for you. Here are the dishes that go best with Kani salad:

Kani Salad
Yield: 2 servings

Kani Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Kani Salad is the perfect dish for summer picnics, potlucks, or your next cookout. This is my favorite version and it’s so easy to make! It’s made with a delicious Ponzu Mayonnaise Dressing



  • 8 oz crabsck
  • 6 oz Japanese cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1⁄2 cup boiled corn kernels
  • 6 oz mango, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tsp black sesame seed

Ponzu Mayonnaise Dressing:

  • 1⁄4 cup Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 tsp mirin
  • 1⁄2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Take the crabsticks and julienne it.
  2. Thinly slice or julienne the cucumber and mango into strips 
  3. Prepare a medium bowl and mix with crab sticks, cucumber, corn, mango, and sesame seed.
    Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix all the ingredients of ponzu mayonnaise dressing.
  5. Serve the salad with the dressing in an individual bowl. Add extra black sesame seeds if you


Mix the salad with the dressing before you want to serve it. You will be able to store the salad in the refrigerator for several days if you do not add the dressing.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 339Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 689mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 4gSugar: 17gProtein: 5g

Did you make this recipe?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Kani Salads Healthy?

Yes, Kani salads are healthy since they’re mostly made from vegetables. However, you can make your plate healthier by ditching the noodles and replacing Japanese mayonnaise with low-fat mayonnaise.

Where Can I Get Readymade Kani Salad?

You can find readymade Kani salad in most Japanese restaurants in the United States. However, don’t expect to find them in restaurants in Japan. Kani salad is a homemade dish there and isn’t common on restaurant menus.

Does Kani Salad Have to Be Spicy?

A traditional Kani salad has to be spicy, yes. But if you aren’t a fan of spicy food, you can skip adding Sriracha sauce. Your salad won’t have the same delicious zestiness, though.

What Does Kani Salad Taste Like?

Kani salad has a perfect balance of spiciness and sweetness. It tastes sweet because of the mangos, carrots, and cucumbers and spicy because of the dressing.

Is Kani Salad Vegan?

No, Kani salad isn’t vegan. Even though it doesn’t require real crab meat, the imitation alternative is also made from meat. More so, the spicy mayonnaise dressing is mostly made from egg yolks.

To Wrap Up

Salads are an irreplaceable part of any dinner table. And I’m not talking about bland salads that are all vegetables and have no taste whatsoever. Instead, I’m talking about salads with rich flavors that explode in your mouth and leave you yearning for more, like Kani salad.

It’s easy to make, doesn’t require many ingredients, and tastes exceptionally good. With a creamy texture, spicy flavor, and a dash of crunch, it’s guaranteed to make you appreciate salads more.

So what are you waiting for? Try my spicy Kani salad recipe today!

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