This kani salad recipe is fresh, tart, and has just the right amount of kick. It’s a fun and easy Japanese seafood dish that only takes 10 minutes to make.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of salads. From large entree salads to simple side salads, I just can’t get enough of them. That definitely includes this kani salad, which is a common dish at Japanese American restaurants. I make it whenever I’m eating Japanese food.
This kani salad recipe has so many strong flavors that go well together. The base is crab meat and cold rice noodles, with a fresh element from carrots, cucumbers, and scallions. The dressing is a tangy and spicy combination of sriracha, vinegar, and mayo. It’s one of the most flavorful side salads you’ll ever eat, and it only takes 10 minutes to make!
What You’ll Need
Here are all the ingredients that you need to make this tangy seafood salad. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the article to see the exact amounts for each ingredient.
- Mayonnaise – You can also use plain yogurt if you prefer, as well as dairy-free mayo or yogurt.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sriracha – Other hot sauces will work in place of sriracha, but sriracha is definitely the best option.
- Sesame seeds
- Kosher salt
- Crab meat – Imitation crab meat is commonly used in place of crab and works great in this recipe.
- Rice noodles – You’ll want to use rice noodles that have already been cooked and cooled. Kelp noodles work as a substitute if you prefer.
- Cucumbers – For best results, use mini cucumbers.
What is Imitation Crab Meat?
Imitation crab is a common ingredient in many Japanese dishes and is often used in kani salad. It’s made out of white fish that is pulverized until it has a similar consistency to crab. Imitation crab tastes a lot like crab and has a very similar texture, but it’s usually much more affordable.
How to Make Kani Salad
Here’s how to make this spicy crab salad. It only takes a few steps and about 10 minutes!
- Make the dressing. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, sriracha, salt, and some of the sesame seeds to a bowl. Stir until well mixed together.
- Add the salad ingredients. Put the crab, cold noodles, cucumbers, carrots, and some of the scallions in the bowl. Fold in the ingredients until they’re covered in the dressing.
- Serve. Garnish with some scallion greens and the rest of the sesame seeds, then eat!
Tips for Success
Here are some tricks and tips for making the best kani salad every time.
- Make even cuts. One of the best parts of this seafood salad is the texture. For best results, try to cut the cucumbers and carrots to a similar size, and be consistent with your cuts. That will ensure the best texture for the kani salad.
- Adjust the heat. If you order kani salad at a restaurant, it might be fairly spicy. This recipe is a little bit milder but still has some kick. Adjust the heat level depending on what you like. You can add a bit more sriracha (or even a spicier Asian hot sauce) if you’re a big fan of heat, or you can dial back the spice level a bit.
- Chill it. I love that this recipe only takes 10 minutes to make because it means I can throw it together last minute before dinner. But when I have the time, I make it in advance and keep it in the fridge. Even just leaving this Asian seafood salad in the fridge for an hour allows the flavors to really meld. The crab, noodles, and veggies will really soak up the spicy and acidic dressing.
What to Serve it With
If I’m eating Japanese food then I’m probably also eating kani salad. But it also goes well with other Asian entrees. Here are some of my favorite foods to serve alongside this seafood dish.
- Quinoa Sushi with Tuna & Mango
- Quinoa Summer Rolls with a Thai Peanut Sauce
- Thai Coconut Curry Soup
- 30-Minute Tofu Pad Thai
How to Store Leftover Kani Salad
You can store leftover crab salad in the fridge for 3 days. Make sure to store the salad in an airtight container. If the salad seems a little dry when you remove it from the fridge, add a splash of apple cider vinegar or a spoonful of mayonnaise.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Kani salad can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 2 months. However, salads tend to have a worse texture after being frozen, so I recommend making this dish fresh whenever possible.
More Asian Salads to Make
I hope you liked this kani salad recipe as much as I do. Here are a few more Asian salads that I love to make.
- Mayo-Free Vegan Coleslaw with Spicy Tahini Sauce
- Asian Kale Quinoa Salad
- Asian Quinoa Power Salad
- Summertime Asian Quinoa Slaw
- Thai Superfood Kale Salad with Sweet Potatoes & Chickpeas
- Healthy Soba Noodle Salad with Almond Butter Dressing
- ¼ cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt (dairy-free optional)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce
- 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds , divided
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 oz. crab meat or imitation crab meat , roughly chopped or flaked apart
- 1 cup cooked and cooled rice noodles or kelp noodles
- 2 mini cucumbers , sliced into thin matchsticks
- 1 medium carrot , peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
- 3 scallions , thinly sliced
- In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sriracha, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, and salt until uniform.
- Add the crab, noodles, cucumbers, carrots, and scallions, reserving some scallion greens for garnish. Gently fold to coat in the dressing.
- Garnish with reserved scallions and the remaining tablespoon of sesame seeds.
- For best results, chill in the fridge for at least an hour before eating.
- You can store the kani salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.