How to make: Kani salad

How to make: Kani salad |

This recipe has been updated on August 6, 2009 @ 11.54 a.m.

Fresh. Green. Bright. Juicy. These are words I associate with the summer. Philippine summers are either famous or notorious depending on how you look at it. We can swear all we want about the heat that can get terribly oppressive, yet, there is a part of us that welcomes the summer because of the childhood memories it evokes. Carefree days in the sun, warm nights on the beach, visits to grandparents in the province and climbing trees for a first bite of the freshest and most luscious fruits imaginable.

It may be this association that makes me think of salads during the summer. Crisp green leafy vegetables, a medley of colors and textures, light, cool and every mouthful refreshing. At home, there is a salad that has become a favorite, Japanese kani salad. It is very easy to prepare and the ingredients are available in most supermarkets all year ’round.

Where does kani salad get its name? While kani is the Japanese name for crab, kani is also short for kani kama (not to be confused with kanitama or crab omelet), the imitation crab sticks that you often find in sushi rolls and one of the essential ingredients of kani salad.

It is quite easy to prepare kani salad at home (my two teenaged daughters made the salad in the photo). To serve four to six persons, you will need:

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled or unpeeled and seeds scooped out
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • a bunch of lettuce (varieties that can retain their shape like iceberg and romaine are best), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 fresh ripe mangoes, thinly sliced
  • 100 to 150 grams of kani kama (imitation crab sticks), pulled apart into thin shreds
  • 1/3 cup of Japanese mayonnaise (thinner than American mayonnaise and the flavor is different too since it is usually made with rice vinegar)
  • a drizzle of sesame seed oil (use very sparingly as the taste and flavor are quite strong)
  • Tobiko (orange-colored flying fish roe), optional as it is quite expensive

Thinly slice the cucumbers and carrot, and julienne (cut into matchsticks). Alternatively, use the shredder commonly used for making buko salad.

To serve, you can toss the cucumbers, carrot, lettuce and mangoes with the Japanese mayonnaise, drizzle with a little sasame seed oil and top with tobiko.

If you want a prettier presentation, line each salad bowl with torn lettuce, scatter some carrot, cucumber and kani on top, drizzle the mayonnaise in a spiral, sprinkle with sesame seed oil and top with tobiko.

[Republished from my food column]


  1. Jaecel says

    Hi Miss Connie! :)
    Thank you for the recipe. Now I know what to do with our leftover crab sticks from Christmas (it’s not expired yet. Bwehehe.). ;) Where did you buy the Japanese mayo and how much is it? Thank you in advance. :)

        • GAB says

          I also make this at home since we love ordering this from Japanese restos.

          Do you have a brand of crabmeat that you prefer? The ones I’ve bought are not easy to pull apart…they are whole underneath even if it looks like strips when you look at the pack.

          The tool I use is the one used for buko or melon strips…only P20 from local markets. There are also ones in SM.

          I garnish mine with sesame seeds and bits of seaweed (leftovers from making maki)…family and friends love it!

  2. cindy says

    Hi Ms. Connie! kani salad has been a frustration of mine! I can never seem to get how they do it in Japanese restaurants. Adding sesame oil sounds like it may be the missing piece—will pick up kani tomorrow. Any particular brand you recommend? and does it have to be rinsed, because sometimes there’s a slight smell. Thanks! love your blog. God Bless you and the family.

    • June says

      Hmmmm… this looks very delicious! I should try this one of these days when hubby is not around. He is not a fan of oriental cooking hehehe. Thanks Connie!

    • joy says

      hi! i just want to know where can i buy the tobiko? we always make kani salad, but we can’t find tobiko on supermarkets… tia =)

        • Rachel says

          Thanks for a great recipe! What is the crunch that restaurants put on top of the Kani salad? Is it tempura batter made into pear like figures and then blended or is it french fried onions? Thanks!
          Also you don’t write anything about sushi rice in your recipe. Don’t you put sushi rice on top of the lettuce and then add the carrots, cucumbers and mango?

          • Connie says

            I don’t know where you eat your kani salad but there is no crunchy anything nor rice included.

          • ivy says

            This is my most fave salad ever! But I have a problem with crab sticks, pls teach me some tips on how to easily pull into strips? I always cut it into round for a lesser time… but I like strips I dont like round crab sticks… :( do i need to cook the imitation crab sticks? or i can do the thing of pulling it into strips as is?
            anyways, i dont put Tobiko and sesame oil on my salad and I used Ladys Choice mayo and it taste good as well….. I bought this japanese mayo from supermarket but thats too sour… I dont like the taste , im still looking for more japanese mayo coz i want to try it!

          • says

            I’ve been making this. I forwarded your recipe to my friend. :)

            Is there a type of mayonnaise or brand that we can use instead of the Japanese mayonnaise?

          • says

            Japaneses Mayo is pretty easy to make. Most super markets have the ingredients.

            sriracha (a Japanese chili sauce)

            I don’t know rhw exact measurements of the top of my head but if you have
            trouble finding them I can get back to you

  3. noes says

    I made this last night, Connie, my husband likes it and he finished it. I showed your website and told him your a good cook. Only thing, I did not have japanese mayo so used the regular one but its all good.

  4. welch says

    thanks for the recipe i’ve been dying to make one for a long time but didn’t know how. my friend always brings some in school and its so good., can’t wait to give it a try tnx again