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Imitation crab is a seafood product made from surimi, or Asian fish paste, and is often known as Krab in the United States. Krab is sold in chunks or sticks and is usually found in the fresh seafood section of most grocery stores. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads and stir-fries to dips and appetizers.
Pollock is most often the main fish ingredient used in preparing imitation crab meat. The fish is first skinned and boned and then minced, or cut into very small pieces. The minced pollock and/or other fish are rinsed before being formed into the fish paste known as surimi. The finished surimi is shaped into chunks or tubes and cut into blocks or sticks. It is cooked to give it a texture closer to real crab meat and is coated with a reddish food coloring to give it pink tint like real crab.
Since it is already cooked, this meat is convenient for adding to many dishes when cooks want a crab-like flavor. The fish should never actually be cooked more, as it will become tough, but instead, cooks should just heat it through by adding it to stir-fries, soups, and casseroles at the last minute. It can also be mixed with heated cream cheese and served as a hot dip. Krab is also good on crackers as an appetizer.
Imitation crab is also good served chilled. Small pieces are great for snacks and it can be added to vegetable and pasta salads. When adding krab to a pasta salad, it usually works best to stir in the mayonnaise, seasonings, and other ingredients, such as sliced celery first. The meat tends to have a stringy texture and it may fall apart in the salad if over-mixed, so cooks should fold it in gently after adding everything else to the pasta salad.
Most people find that imitation crab doesn't taste like real crab meat, but many people who enjoy crab also enjoy krab. Nutritionally, it has a bit less protein and potassium and a lot more sodium than genuine crab, but it also has less cholesterol and carbohydrates.