Simple Japanese kani salad recipe

kani salad

The latest Japanese dish to dominate our Insta-feeds is kani salad.

Super quick and easy to make, it is the ideal starter or side dish. Sandwiched within a crisp baguette, in a sort of banh-mi fusion mash up stylie, it will transport you to lunchtime heaven.

What is kani salad?

Kani salad is a Japanese shredded crab salad. You can use fresh crab meat (kani in Japanese) but there are times when imitation crab sticks (kanikama) are way better than the real deal. Surimi may not have the flavour of fresh crab meat but its ability to shred into strips is a textural joy.

At its simplest, and we think possibly best, kani salad has just three ingredients. Shredded cucumber, shredded crabsticks, and Japanese style mayonnaise. But you can add other crisp shredded vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, or radish. Asian slaw anyone? Mango is not unheard of, and many restaurants like to add a little flourish with fish roe or even panko breadcrumbs.

Kani salad dressing

Japanese mayonnaise is more similar to homemade mayonnaise. It is made with egg yolks, mustard, rice vinegar and oil. Rice vinegar is ideal for making mayonnaise, with its subtle sweetness and lack of harsh acidity. If you can’t get Japanese mayo, use the best shop bought you can find.

A few drops of sriracha sauce added to the mayonnaise excites the palate with a little moreish heat. You can find out more about sriracha sauce in this article. Other subtle flavour additions such as lime juice and soy sauce enhance the flavour of the dish without overpowering its innate simplicity.

How to cut cucumber for kani salad

Cucumber is the star of the show in kani salad. Cool and refreshing, it is the perfect pairing for those shredded strips of surimi. Yet for such a simple ingredient, cucumber can be deceptively hard to work with. The high water content means it soon loses that crisp texture and it can leak out into a soggy mess. The skin is often bitter and indigestible. To combat this, peel the cucumber using a speed peeler. Then, slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the centre bit with the seeds.

Chop into lengths the size of the crabsticks. Slice lengthwise into 3mm slices, then slice the slices into 3mm strips.

Here are a few tips for getting the best from your kani salad.

  1. Use cold cucumber and shred as close to serving as possible. It won’t sit well.
  2. Same with the crabsticks.
  3. Mix your dressing ahead of time so the flavours combine.
  4. Toss the ingredients and dress the salad immediately before serving.

Japanese kani salad recipe

Serves 2, as a side or sandwich filling

6 crabsticks, shredded

1/2 large cucumber, shredded

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tbsp rice vinegar

A squeeze of fresh lime

1 tsp Japanese soy sauce

1 tsp sriracha

  1. Shred the ingredients and toss together.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients.
  3. Mix together and serve immediately.

Try a kani crab salad sandwich

Try adding kani crab salad to a warm crisp baguette with shredded cabbage, carrot, and radish, plus fresh coriander, mint and parsley.

Explore our range of organic Asian groceries or head straight to our selection of Asian sauces.

This article was reproduced on this site with permission from the “Online Asian Wholesale Grocer”.
See original article:- Super Simple Japanese kani salad recipe

Why you should have more than one Asian slaw recipe in your repertoire.

Guide to Asian Slaw

Asian slaw. That seemingly catch all term for mayo-free coleslaw. An endless array of vibrant veggies with a sharp, often spicy, and most definitely not creamy dressing. Peanuts are usually involved, as are limes, fresh coriander leaf, and quite possibly, fiery red chillies.

An Asian-style slaw is a beautiful thing but before you throw at your plate all the vaguely East Asian ingredients you can find, stop and think for a moment. What am I actually creating here?

In this guide we take a look at the salads of South Asia to discover the many sides of Asian slaw.

Asian slaw

Asian slaw and salads – a world of possibility

Sparked by an interest in the vibrant flavour profiles of South East Asia, and fuelled by the massive clean eating movement, the Asian slaw became a thing. A beautiful hybrid of nations to nestle against the naked burger and stuff into lettuce leaf wraps, this mayo-free slaw lost all of its identity overnight. There is nothing wrong with taking the flavours of the world and running with them. At all. But when you look at the origins of foods and their cultural identity you gain a whole new respect for ingredients. And open up a world of possibilities.

Yes, there are many similarities amongst the foods of South Asia. But there are also many differences, some more subtle than others. Most of the major cuisines of the region have some kind of crunchy raw salad served with a sharp dressing. Some of them play a supporting role in a vast cuisine, whilst others are regional defining dishes.

Raw salads in China

Owing to the yin and yang elements of Chinese food it is true that there are not many salads in the Chinese repertoire as most dishes are at least lightly cooked. There are however several single ingredient side dishes of raw vegetables dressed in something sharp. Delightfully simple, these elements bring a subtle surprise. A dash of vinegar on a little shredded carrot. Or a sweet and sour turnip pickle.

Try this…

Chinese cucumber salad asian slaw

1 cucumber, cold from the fridge

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp sesame oil


1 clove garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, chopped
  1. Lay the whole cucumber on a chopping board and lightly bash with a rolling pin so it breaks open.
  2. Now chop the cucumber into chunks.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine

The Asian slaw of Japan

If you have ever eaten tonkatsu you may be familiar with its usual companion of shredded cabbage. Served with all kinds of deep fried food in Japan, this is a simple yet deeply flavoursome version of slaw. Japanese food is all about integrity of ingredients and balance. It is as much about awakening of the senses as it is about nuance of flavour.

asian slaw japanese

1/2 head of white cabbage, finely shredded

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce

1 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil
  1. Toss ingredients together and serve.

Korean coleslaw

This version of slaw from Korea is very similar to kimchi but it is not fermented. Hot and sour, the vegetables are tossed in a chilli sauce based dressing that is more like a sauce than a dressing in consistency.

asian slaw korea

1/4 head white cabbage, shredded

1 carrot, shredded

1 spring onion, finely sliced

10 mint leaves, shredded

1 tbsp chilli sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp garlic


1 tsp fish sauce


1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  1. Toss all of the ingredients together.
  2. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Salads in Thailand

Thai cuisine is full of fresh vibrant ingredients, often used raw. A famous Thai salad contains green papaya, an ingredient that is not that easy to source outside of South East Asia. The closest we come to a slaw is Thai beef salad, served as a main course, but you can riff on this for a smaller slaw-based side. Go for shredded carrots, ribbons of cucumber, sliced spring onions, beansprouts, shredded mint leaves and finely sliced red chillies. Dress with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Top with chopped tomatoes.

Look out for our Thai beef salad recipe.

An Indonesian slaw

There is a fantastic salad in Indonesia made from shredded cabbage, cucumber, green beans, Thai basil, and beansprouts. All tossed in a deeply savoury sauce of peanuts, lime juice, sugar, galangal, chillies, garlic and fish sauce. If you can’t get Thai basil you could try adding a touch of our holy basil sauce to your dressing.

Asian slaw in Malaysia

In Malaysia, a similar slaw-like salad is popular to eat with plain rice. Toss shredded green mango, cucumber, beansprouts, bamboo shoots and peppers are in a dressing of dried shrimp, lime juice, sugar and chillies.

Vietnamese salads

A popular Vietnamese salad, usually served as a main course, contains shredded chicken. Toss with plenty of crisp cabbage, carrots, onions, mint and coriander, and dress in a blend of lime juice, fish sauce, chillies, garlic and sugar. Top with roasted peanuts and crispy fried shallots.


We hope that this article inspires you to take your Asian slaw one step further, and maybe discover some of the nuances that separate the regional cuisines of South Asia. Take a look at our range of organic Asian groceries, or head over to our online Asian grocery store.