A Spicy Perspective

Spicy Kani Salad

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Spicy Kani Salad Recipe: A sushi shop favorite you can make at home! Kani Salad tastes just like the popular dish you order at your neighborhood Japanese restaurant.

Homeade Japanese Kani


Let’s talk about this Kani Salad, but first balance…

Japanese food is an enigma. A delicate balance between the overcooked 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 for the last couple of 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.

I want my life to be bold, yet reserved. Graceful, yet edgy. Wise, yet adventurous. Complex, yet simple. Ah balance, sometimes you are nowhere in sight!

Thankfully every morning is a fresh chance to step out on that tightrope again.

Crab Meat and Mango Salad

Kani Salad Recipe

I appreciate Japanese cuisine because I feel it encapsulates this concept. Extreme textures and flavors come 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.

Our Spicy Kani Salad Recipe with mango is a nod to a sushi bar fav favorite. Now you can make it at home!

What is Kani?

Kani is the Japanese word for crab. However, when used it is usually referring to imitation crab meat.

For this Kani salad recipe, you can use either real crab or imitation crab. Although the imitation is more true to the recipe and has a distinctly different flavor than the real kind.

All the ingredients needed

How to Make Kani Salad


For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (chile sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Pinch salt

For the Salad:

  • 4 Kani sticks (1/2 pound imitation crab)
  • 1 mango peeled and shredded
  • 1 large cucumber (or three baby cucumbers) peeled and shredded
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs


  1. Whisk mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, sriracha, paprika ginger, and salt together for the dressing. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
  2. To make the Kani Salad shred the crab sticks by hand and place them 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.
  4. Voila!

See The Recipe Card Below For How To Make Spicy Kani Salad. Enjoy!

Shredded/Julienne styled ingredients

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Real Crab Meat Instead?

Imitation crab is traditional for this kanikama 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 it used to be.

How Long Does This Japanese Crab Salad Last in the Fridge?

To store this main dish/side dish recipe, transfer it into an airtight container and it can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Can I Buy This Kani Salad Dressing In The Store?

You might have the Japanese mayonnaise sauce, Kewpie, available in stores near you, but it is not always accessible where I live. However, you can find it online!

What Other Additions Can I Make?

Some people like to add some julienne-style vegetables with a crunch, like carrots or Persian cucumbers along with the creamy spicy mayonnaise dressing and shredded thin strips of imitation crab sticks. Other recipes call for corn kernels and soy sauce.

You could also turn this into a lettuce wrap or top this dish off with some sesame seeds and tobiko fish roe.

Special Sushi restaurant favorite

Looking for Even More Salads? Try These!

Check out the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, carbohydrates, protein, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, fiber, vitamin c, and calcium percentages.

Spicy Kani Salad Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 25 votes
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Spicy Kani Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Spicy Kani Salad: A sushi shop favorite you can make at home! Kani Salad tastes just like the dish you order at your neighborhood Japanese restaurant.
Servings: 4


For the Dressing:

For the Salad:

  • 4 kani sticks (1/2 pound imitation crab)
  • 1 mango peeled and shredded
  • 1 large cucumber (or three baby cucumbers) peeled and shredded
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs


  • For the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the dresing ingredients together until smooth. Taste for seasoning and salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.
  • For the Salad: 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.



Cover and chill for up to 3 days.


Serving: 0.75cup, Calories: 178kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 208mg, Potassium: 193mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 625IU, Vitamin C: 18.2mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 0.8mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Japanese
Author: Sommer Collier

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61 comments on “Spicy Kani Salad”

  1. I just love the spicy kani salad.  I first tried it at a Japanese restaurant and now every time we go, I have to order a bowl of it.  The one I order doesn’t have mango in it but they do have carrots instead shredded just like the cucumbers.  And it does taste wonderfully.  

  2. Nice recipe. I will try at home soon!

  3. I don’t like mango, co you please give me some other options for a substitute please. Thank You !!

  4. looks good, can i do it without the mangos?

  5. Not a very popular salad in US, only a hand full of Japanese restaurants that i have been to even serve it. But strangely enough it was always very popular in Russia (just without mango) even during the soviet times, my mom was making it since i was young and its my 2nd favorite salad after yet another “Russian” salad with a French name Olivier aka Olivie :)

  6. I wish I could make sushi at home!

  7. Pingback: Healthy Kani Salad « Recipes for Health

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

    • This was wonderfully written. You made me ponder on my current situation vs how I want it to go moving forward. I was only looking for a highly rated salad recipe but ended up realizing more things and thinking about others just to find my center, my balance. Thank you! :)

  9. Delicious sauce!

  10. 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!

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

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

    • 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. :)

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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!

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

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

  22. 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.

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

  24. 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 :)

  25. 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 :).

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

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

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

    Great shots,


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

  30. 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!

  31. Light and flavorful salad…and gorgeous!
    Your little ones are soooo cute! They already know how to eat with chopsticks? Oh I am in big trouble!

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

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

  34. 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.

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

  36. 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!!

  37. 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!!

  38. 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!

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

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

  41. 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~

  42. 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!

  43. 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!!!

  44. 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!

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

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

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

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

      • 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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?

    • 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!

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

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

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

  53. 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..

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

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

  56. Yum – what a delicate, lovely salad!