Spicy Kani Salad

Japanese food is an enigma. A delicate balance between the over cooked and the uncooked, between the overly seasoned and the unseasoned… A balance of extremes. Japanese cuisine reflects its culture. A graceful symmetry between the old and the new. A level scale holding on to the past and pressing into the future.

A close friend of mine lived in Japan the last couple years and talks about these extremes. She tells of their home high in the mountains, bitter cold in winter due to no insulation. Yet they had fiber optic internet, go-figure. In Japan, balance doesn’t mean duplication; it means hot and cold dancing together in perfect rhythm.

I like balance. A lot. I would say it is one of my utmost goals in life. To give myself completely to the purposes and people I hold dear, yet not choose one over the other. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in one pursuit, one relationship, or one mindset, and allow others to suffer.

Dishes with personality from Villeroy and Boch.

I want my life to be bold, yet reserved. Graceful, yet edgy. Wise, yet adventurous. Complex, yet simple. Ah balance, sometimes you are no where in sight! Thankfully every morning is a fresh chance to step out on that tightrope again.

I appreciate Japanese cuisine because I feel it encapsulates this concept. Extreme textures and flavors coming together in harmony.

Spicy Kani Salad is a tribute to balance: cool and spicy, silky and crisp, sweet and tart, light and filling. The spicy dressing caresses the smooth cooling ribbons of cucumber, crab meat and mango, sprinkled with crunchy panko. A symphony of contradiction in every bite.

Cook’s Notes:

Kani usually refers to imitation crab, which is white fish pressed into “sticks” for Japanese cooking. It shreds easily and is much less expensive then real crab.

Make sure to only add the panko right before serving so it is as crisp as possible.


Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Spicy Kani Salad


For the Dressing:
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 Tb. rice vinegar
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sriracha (chile sauce)
½ tsp. Paprika
½ tsp. freshly grated ginger
Pinch of salt

For the Salad:
4 kani sticks (1/2 lb. imitation crab)
1 mango, peeled and shredded
1 large (or three baby) cucumbers, peeled and shredded
¾ cup panko bread crumbs


Whisk the first seven ingredients together for the dressing. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Shred the crab sticks by hand and place in a large bowl. Shred the cucumber and mango in a food processor (or julienne by hand) and place in the bowl.

Toss with the dressing and top with panko immediately before serving.

Here are my little Japanese salad eaters.

Sweet, spunky and always helping mommy search for her balance!

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61 Responses to “Spicy Kani Salad”

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    Bill — August 30, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

    Great recipe! Next time I’m gonna make a little more sauce and add some chilled soba noodles.



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