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Spicy Kani Salad

Spicy Kani Salad. A classic Japanese favorite, you can make at home!

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.

Spicy Kani Salad

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.

Spicy Kani Salad

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.

Spicy Kani Salad

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

Spicy Kani Salad

Spicy Kani Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes


For the Dressing:

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (chile sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon 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


  1. Whisk the first seven ingredients together for the dressing. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Toss with the dressing and top with panko immediately before serving.

Making this recipe? Why not take a quick shot and share it on Instagram! Make sure to tag it #ASpicyPerspective so we can see what you're cooking!

Here are my little Japanese salad eaters.

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

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62 Responses to “Spicy Kani Salad”

  1. 5 Star foodieposted May 16, 2011 at 6:52 am

    This is a very unique salad, loving the spicy dressing and the combination of cucumber, crab meat and mango, nice!


  2. pamposted May 16, 2011 at 6:23 am

    I’m all about balance too! AND I totally love those dishes!


  3. Belinda @zomppaposted May 16, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Yum – what a delicate, lovely salad!


  4. Danposted May 16, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Very jealous. I so wish my seven-year-old would try something like this!


  5. Nelly Rodriguezposted May 16, 2011 at 8:14 am

    oh my god, I love this salad! looks delicious and the kids are even funnier!


  6. Apron Appealposted May 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Having a picture of your kids eating this is what sealed the deal for me. Did you have to “encourage” them to try it or did they just dig in?


    • Sommer — May 16th, 2011 @ 8:50 am

      They are actually putting away a SQUID salad at one of our favorite little sushi joints in these picture. But, no, they are pretty adventurous eaters at this point!


  7. My Kitchen in the Rockiesposted May 16, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Your little ones are so cute! How wonderful that they enjoy the salad as well. My daughter would, too, but not my son. Thanks for a great new salad idea.


  8. Sawsan@chef in disguiseposted May 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

    You have adorable kids! They are super cute and they know how to use chopsticks! (I don’t lol)
    I love the salad, the combination of flavors is so appetizing..


  9. Roxanposted May 16, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Mm, this salad looks tasty and refreshing! Have you heard of the japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie? You should try that with this salad next time! :)


    • Sommer — May 16th, 2011 @ 8:58 am

      Thanks Roxan, It’s not available where I live, so this dressing is made with regulay grocery store finds. :)


      • Anon — November 5th, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

        Try making your own Japanese style mayo.
        I use 2 egg yolks
        1 cup of canola oil in a squeeze bottle
        1/2 tsp sugar
        1/2 tsp salt
        pinch of MSG (Accent)
        1/2 tbs of rice vinegar
        1/2 tbs malt vinegar though you can just use 1tbs rice vinegar if you like.

        Put one egg yolk and the salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix with electric mixer on low then slowly start adding the oil, drop by drop ( this is the reason for the squeeze bottle, I use one I got in the cake decorating section at WalMart that came in a two pack and holds exactly 1 cup). Do not rush the oil or it will turn into a mess.
        Once you get about half the oil added, add the second egg yolk and keep adding the oil, you can add it faster now. When I get to about 1/4 of the oil remaining I pretty much add it in a stream. The texture may get a little lumpy here, but not to worry. When all the oil is in, add the MSG and the vinegar then mix some more on low, this will settle any lumps that may have formed. Cover and refrigerate.

  10. Emily @Cleanlinessposted May 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

    1. I am stealing your children.
    2. I am stealing your plates along with your children.
    3. This recipe is awesome!


  11. Jennifurlaposted May 16, 2011 at 9:55 am

    what cuties, I would love to try this. Seems simple anough for me to try.


  12. RavieNomNomsposted May 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

    What an interesting salad, and I am SO impressed that they are eating it! I wouldn’t have eaten ANYTHING like that when I was younger haha. I was so picky. Looks great!


  13. Jessicaposted May 16, 2011 at 10:17 am

    You are absolutely right in their perspective of balance. I have heard that everything in life is about balance, even the type of food. I love the sound of the spicy crab salad you made here and it looks great! Oh and your Japanese salad eaters’ use of chopsticks is impressive!!!


  14. Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchenposted May 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I love japanese food but always have trouble mimicking my favorite restaurant. They do have an amazing way of balancing all the flavors and texture! Thanks for sharing this recipe, it looks great!


  15. Lizposted May 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Oh, what adorable children! Such cute personalities :) And on to the salad…which looks fabulous! Such wonderful flavors…I’d love a bowl or two~


  16. aesh cameposted May 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    the ingredients are an interesting mix, mango? I bet it taste wonderful. Here we make mango salad but it;s spicy.


  17. Angie's Recipesposted May 16, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Fruity, light and flavour! This is such a wonderful salad.


  18. Lindsey@Lindseliciousposted May 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Your kids are so cute! I have never seen a Japanese salad with mango in it before… Which means I need to try this ASAP!


  19. Lindaposted May 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I’m very excited to see this recipe! I have these ingredients on hand except having real crab vs. the imitation crab. I realize the taste will be off but I’m going to try it out as the flavor combinations sound so good! And how could I not comment on your children as those photos really brought a smile to my face! I truly miss having my kids at that age!!


  20. CSawyerposted May 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I love those two little “eaters”!!! Since they were babies they have been eating the good stuff!!!! You’re such a great mom!! Can’t wait to try this one!!


  21. carolinaheartstringsposted May 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    What fun they look like they are having. Great looking recipe.


  22. Claireposted May 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    The little ones are SO cute. And the presentation on this dish is stunning. Gorgeous photography!!!


  23. Tricia @ Saving room for dessertposted May 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Sommer – just got home from a long day and read this lovely post. Not blowing smoke here – you are a great writer. It always leaves me thinking and wanting to know more about you and your family. Lovely dish and great analogy. And, your children are adorable! Thanks for sharing.


  24. Mary @ Delightful Bitefulsposted May 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Okay, that looks so great! Love the colors! Balance is sooo important!!!


  25. adriposted May 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    looks great.
    I am eating “hiyashi chuka” tomorrow, kinda similar :)


  26. A Little Yumminessposted May 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Love the photos of the salad eaters – almost more than the salad!! :)


  27. Aldyposted May 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Absolutely Gorgeous Salad, Sommer! Beautiful- mouth-watering flavors ~ Bravo! And your children are super-cute :)

    Great shots,



  28. Sneh | Cook Republicposted May 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Gorgeous salad! Love all the fresh flavours in this recipe. Your children are adorable. How priceless is the look on your daughter’s face as she puts that salad in her mouth as if she is thinking “Oh My God, Wonder how it will taste?”, lol. My 7 year old son does the exact same thing!


  29. blackbookkitchendiariesposted May 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    this salad looks so yummy!! thank you for sharing this:) i cant wait to try this out.


  30. Carolynposted May 17, 2011 at 4:38 am

    I’ve never thought about Japanese food that way, but your description makes sense. The salad looks delicious!


  31. Tiffanyposted May 17, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I love these pictures!!!!! And the salad sounds wonderful! P.S… One of my close friends is going to Asheville this week to eat her stress away in all of great restaurants there. I’m jealous :).


  32. Pudding Pie Laneposted May 17, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Aw, your ‘Japanese salad eaters’ are so cute! I also was fascinated about the balance and ying and yang thing, but I think this dish captures it quite well :)


  33. Kristenposted May 17, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Sounds delicious. I have a package of kani in my freezer that I have been wondering about. A salad like this sounds perfect!


  34. elle marieposted May 17, 2011 at 7:55 am

    It wasn’t until I moved to Japan that learned how to infuse various cultures into dishes in a delicate way, does that even make sense? We here in Japan buy the imitation kani, for some reason, it has a very distinct taste, and well of course real kani is also very delicious, but quite pricey.


  35. pachecopattyposted May 17, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Sweet little Japanese salad eaters Sommer!
    I like this recipe, something a little different but interesting and delicious looking;-)
    Your photos are gorgeous;-)


  36. Dmarieposted May 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    balance…what a great goal! I used to pray for patience and all I got was trouble to practice being patient in. this recipe looks like a winner –and so do those beautiful kids!


  37. Devaki@weavethousandflavorsposted May 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    This is so very wonderful and yes please let’s learn to balance and here’s to the pursuit of equilibrium :)

    Since I am embarrased to say we pig out on Japanese fodo in this family, this salad is calling our name. Gorgeous pics, gorgeous everything Sommer :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors


  38. Marisaposted May 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    I LOVE this. It looks so good, I’m obsessing over the pictures. I would like to try making this over the summer–can’t wait to see what it tastes like!


  39. torviewtorontoposted May 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    delicious have had these flavours in a sushi but not on its own looks wonderful


  40. Kitaposted May 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    A good balance is something I really could use right about now – In the meantime, I may just have to munch on some Japanese food til I figure things out. This looks awesome.


  41. Lora @cakeduchessposted May 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I love this post, Sommer. I really like how you describe Japanese cuisine: it is spot-on!! This salad is amazing and your kids eating are just adorable!! My kids love sushi (my son calls it shushi). Delicious, as always.


  42. Reese&Mark@SeasonWithSpiceposted May 18, 2011 at 3:43 am

    In a world of thousands (maybe millions?) of food blogs – all displaying delicious recipes and photos – it is hard to distinguish one from the other. However, the writing can be drastically different. And unfortunately many bloggers do not seem to emphasize its importance. A Spicy Perspective is a welcome find because you’re a great writer, Sommer. Looking forward to reading more.


  43. Marlyposted May 18, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Love this recipe…and the photos of your kids eating it!


  44. Wizzyposted May 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Salad looks awesome but you’ll have to forgive me if I use real crab as I’m not fond of the imitation


    • Sommer — May 18th, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

      I understand. Imitation crab is traditional for this salad, but you could definitely substitute REAL crab. It doesn’t shred as well, but you can’t beat the flavor. …Although I will say imitation crab has come a long way. It’s much more flavorful (and sustainable) than is used to be. :)


  45. Alisonposted December 1, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Thanks for an amazing recipe, love your blog
    Low Fat Salad Recipes


  46. Lauraposted August 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I was looking for a spicy kani salad and found this one! I decided to make some changes, I added avocado, uncooked cubes of ahi tuna and black sesame seeds. I didn’t used cucumber, mango and panko. Turned out great! I’ll follow the recipe next time. Love your kids, they surely seem like foodies already!


  47. Jacqueposted April 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Delicious sauce!


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  55. Billposted August 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm

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


  56. Pingback: Healthy Kani Salad « Recipes for Health

  57. Luvenia Munyonposted February 17, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I wish I could make sushi at home!


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