HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


What to do with imitation crab meat

So my Mom went on a shopping spree and bought about 1kg of imitation crab meat, and I have NO idea what to make with it. I've never used the stuff in my life. Any suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've used it like canned tuna and made a krab salad with it using mayo and any other sesonings

    1. I love this Paul Prudhomme recipe for seafood gumbo with andouille sausage and more often than not substitute the imitation for real crab. It's not just that lump crab meat is so expensive, but in a stew this rich and this spicy, the crab is more of a texture than a flavor element.


      I would use it in any similar situation where you're not highlighting the flavor and delicacy of the crab meat but using it more as a filler element.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        I disagree with this, for me crabmeat is a major flavoring component of a good seafood gumbo! Claw meat is a fantastic substitute for lump crabmeat in stews and stuff, but imitation crabmeat gives soups and stews a very "off" flavor for me. I may be overly picky since I was born and raised in New Orleans, but I find imitation crabmeat does a poor job of flavoring soups and stews. It does well enough when used in salads etc though.

        1. re: twyst

          Interesting. I hate it in salads for exactly the reason you dislike it in a gumbo--in a salad, the crab should be a major flavor component whereas in a gumbo--especially one with shrimp, oysters, and andouille sausage--I've been unable to tell the difference between the dish made with the real thing and the same recipe made with the fake stuff.

      2. Feature it in a seafood lasagna along with mushrooms, some other vegetables, and some sauces.
        Or enchiladas

          1. Imitation crab or "surimi", is a frequent ingredient in Asian cuisine these days & there's absolutely NOTHING WRONG with using it & enjoying it (unless you're a food snob, of course). I don't expect it to replace real crab meat in recipes, but use it for itself. Keep that in mind & you'll find myriad uses for it. Here's one of the favorites that I've developed:

            BREEZY JADE & CORAL
            (Adapted from Wokcraft, by Charles & Violet Schafer)

            Approx. 1 pound of broccoli florets
            1 package of surimi (aka "imitation crab meat"), in bite-size pieces
            Approx. 1” piece of fresh ginger, peeled & minced or grated
            2-3 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
            1 teaspoon sugar
            3 tablespoons dry sherry
            4 tablespoons soy sauce
            A few dollops of vegetable oil for stirfrying

            Bring a pot of water to a boil & blanch broccoli florets for 2 minutes & drain. Combine sugar, sherry, soy sauce, & minced garlic – stir until sugar is dissolved. Heat a dollop or so of oil in a wok or large skillet & add ginger for about 30 seconds, then follow with broccoli florets, surimi, & sauce mixture. Stirfry until heated through & serve.

            1. I do a crab salad more chicken style than tuna though. Celery, mayo, lemon, spices.

              Instead of bread, cut open a few fresh croissants and you have a killer brunch sandwich. Light but decadent.

              1 Reply
              1. re: piano boy

                I agree - I also use surimi/imitation crab meat to make mock lobster rolls. Guess I should call them "Surimi Rolls" - lol! Regardless - very good!

              2. I make up a thick curry sauce, mix in the surimi and serve it over rice. My mother used to do this years ago with actual crabmeat, but I use it to make a cheap quicky meal.

                1. for my taste, it is much much better not to cook it. There are some strange chemicals holding it together and it gets weird and gooey after cooking. My grandmother, who basically bought no other prepared foods, used to put it in a salad: crunchy lettuce, peeled cucumbers, carrots, with a lemony dressing. This is a very light salad and goes well with the fish.
                  It of course goes well with avocado, that could be eaten with or in the salad.
                  Also you could try some hand rolls by wrapping Japanese nori, some sticky rice, avocado and or cucumber and even some mayo with the surimi.
                  One other salad made for me in a Japanese restaurant in Queens: shred surimi so that it falls apart into fine strings, mix with mayo, very thinly sliced cucumber (so that it is the same size and shape as the surimi) and some masago(small fish eggs widely available).

                  p.s. I remember eating that salad with my grandma all going growing up, but then one day she fed the surimi to a crane or egret that you used to come to her yard. the egret ate grapes, pasta, anything, but spit out the surimi. THis is a bird that survives on fish, so after that grandma stopped buying surimi.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fara

                    I'm with you... I do not care for it heated - when imitation Krab is cooked, detect an off flavor and a change in texture.

                    Fine cold in salads, though.

                  2. Similar to other posters, I make it in a salad with shaved fennel, celery and dill with a mayo, dijon and lemon juice dressing. Red pepper for colour if you have it. Makes a nice lunch on some lettuce.

                    1. Add some other fish (shrimp) and make a seafood quiche with a favorite gooey cheese.

                        1. re: cb1

                          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ x2

                          I have several friends that are severely allergic to shellfish, so I do sushi rolls/California rolls, etc. with the "Krab with a K" as I call it, to circumvent those issues. Works great.

                          For myself I have tried canned crab in both low and high $$$ form and both are quite watery adn tasteless to the point I will not use crab unless bought whole and hand picked. The large 1lb tubs of fresh pastuerized crab work, but are VERY pricey and often provide more product than I can use.

                          As above, I also use Krab in creole and cajun dishes where the spice mixture and heavy seasonings often overwhelm all but the heartiest of fresh crab.

                          In a pinch I've used it for seafood alfredo and scampi, both over pasta. Adequate, but not high-falutin' by any means.

                          It is what it is, so use it thusly.

                          1. re: jjjrfoodie

                            Need to be careful because some of these products do have crab flavoring made from real crab or crab shells.

                            1. re: jjjrfoodie

                              scubadoo is right...please read the packaging VERY carefully before serving to your shellfish-allergic friends because surimi is often flavored with crab, shrimp or lobster shells, and some even contain a small amount of actual crab meat.

                          2. Many years ago there was a little restaurant that served brunch type food. One of their signature dishes was an English muffin topped with a mix of cream cheese and surimi which was then popped under the salamander for a moment.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              a knock-off version of crabby bites.

                                1. re: letsindulge

                                  I have never fixed a tempura dish at home. If you have time, do you mind to go into detail on preparation? Thanks!

                                  1. re: Tehama

                                    Tempura is made using the deep frying method. Ideal oil temperature for most foods is a constant 350C. An all purpose batter is simply 1c. ap flour, 1T. cornstarch, 1.5c. ice cold seltzer water, salt to taste. Combine in a bowl and stir to mix. Batter need not be completely smooth. Can be used for veggies too. The dipping sauce is 1c. dashi stock, 1/4c. each mirin, and soy sauce, 1/2T. sugar. Combine in a pot and heat to long enough melt sugar. Cool to room temperature to serve.

                                    1. re: letsindulge

                                      You are so kind! I can't wait to try. Thank you!

                                      1. re: Tehama

                                        try using rice flour instead of AP - it's more traditional, and when combined with a bit of corn starch it results in a wonderfully light & crisp coating.

                                      2. re: letsindulge

                                        Here's my trick for frying: Throw a kernal of popcorn into your oil. When it pops, your oil is properly heated.

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          What a wonderful idea! So simple, but I never would have thought of it. Thanks!

                                  2. I have had very good luck sub'ing surimi/faux crab meat into Crabmeat Mornay


                                    (I'm hungry right now thinking about it!)

                                    1. We like to make tostadaswith surimi. They're fast, easy and taste good to us. We just shred the meat and put it on a pre-made tostada (Perico is good because it is small and thin) or, you can fry your own corn tortilla and use that. Put a good portion of the crab and then squeeze lime juice, if you have key lime that is best, over the crab and top off withTapatio hot sauce.

                                      1. I'd add it to any sunomono type salad.

                                        1. I make a salad that my friends love. I stuff it into avocado halves and serve on a bed of greens. You could stuff tomatoes as well. Break up the surimi with your hands and give a light chop. Sprinkle generously with fresh lime juice (Mexican or key limes, not Persian). Mix in mayo, minced cilantro, a few drops of good salsa or Tabasco, and some minced green onion. Let it sit in the frig for a couple of hours and pile into avocados. Or make an open faced sandwich, put some cheddar on top, and put under the broiler.

                                          1. I shred it, mix it with celery and mayonnaise, put it in a hot dog bun, and pretend I am on Cape Cod eating a lobster roll.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. I think the fake crab makes a mean West Indies Salad. Mix with a bit of oil (I prefer a light EVOO), a lot of cider vinegar, and minced white onion. Salt & pepper to taste. Outstanding. I prefer it freshly made but my family likes it better after it's been marinating for a day or so. IMHO, the krab gets a little mushy once it's marinated, but I guess they like it that way.

                                              1. I make a green salad with some lettuce mix (or whatevers on hand), cucumbers, green onions, and the crabmeat flaked up. For dressing I take a scoop of miracle whip, two tbsp each of salad oil and white vinegar, salt and pepper, and shake it up and coat the salad. Best if eaten right away (this is a great timesaver in our house when we have unexpected friends stop over).

                                                I have a friend (very Italian) who makes Fettucini Alfredo with the crabmeat, mushrooms, shrimp and scallops. She makes hers from scratch (of course), I will use the jarred sauce (yikes I know!) more often than not, and I don't include the mushrooms (not one of my favs). I cook the shrimp and scallops in a saucepan with some butter/olive oil mix until almost done, drain the pasta, add the sauce (heated first) and at the last minute toss in the seafood mix - we love this!

                                                1. Add some to your cocatel de camarones (Mexican-style shrimp cocktail).

                                                  1. Do tempura with it or Kani Salad.. Julienne it along with cucumber, lettuce, carrots and mango then toss with japanese mayo.. you can also add tobiko to the kani salad

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: beathebrat

                                                      I do not heat 'Krab' meat either.
                                                      I make up a bowl full of rough chopped 'Krab' combined with Japanese mayo or any other mayo, rough chopped and seeded cucumber, some fresh lemon juice, sprinkle of celery seed, s&p.
                                                      Cut a Kaiser bun in have. Layer of lettuce. Heaping spoonful of 'Krab' filling. Another layer of lettuce.
                                                      Delicious 'Krab' burger.

                                                    2. make imitation crab cakes?

                                                      1. Pretty good with eggs. Scramble with eggs, cream cheese, scallions (and some tomato if you like), or put into a quiche.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                            Something strange happens to the texture and flavor when 'Krab' is heated.

                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                              I use Krab primarily as a filler in my quiche.

                                                        1. I make soup with surimi (fake crab meat, usually pollock) and ramen noodles. It is not haute cuisine, but oh so good.
                                                          The ramen noodles flavor packet is discarded...too much salt. I flavor the soup with sauteed onion and garlic, ginger root, soy sauce and some extremely spicy, homegrown chile pods.

                                                          Someone resurrected this old posting...thank goodness!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: ChiliDude

                                                            that sounds quite tasty! Thanks!