How to Cook Imitation Crab Meat: Things You Need to Get Started

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Have you ever tried a California roll? If so, you’ll notice that in this delicious type of Westernized sushi, one of the ingredients that stand out is the orange-and-white seafood stick.

This is imitation crab meat, and it’s an ingredient that you should check out if you haven’t yet! Widely popular in lots of fusion Japanese dishes, they’re extremely versatile, not to mention affordable and easy to prepare.

In this article, let me show you a few ways on how to cook imitation crab meat, as well as the tools you’ll need that will let you easily whip up delicious dishes in no time.

What Is Imitation Crab Meat Made Of?

Imitation crab meat has a lot of different nicknames. Also referred to as “krab sticks,” ocean sticks, or seafood sticks, this is a type of processed seafood that originated in Japan in the 1970s.

The term “crab sticks” used to be widely used by manufacturers, but since there’s no actual crab meat in them, legal restrictions have prevented them from using the term.

As the description suggests, it is not actually made of crab. It’s rather composed of starch and pulverized fish—the Japanese call this “surimi” a type of paste or ground meat that’s used to mimic the texture of the crab or other shellfish.

It’s possible to consume imitation crab meat straight out of the pack, but where’s the fun in that? If you have time to cook, this versatile ingredient can go places! To get you started, here are some of the basic cooking methods that you must take note of.

Frying

Things You’ll Need

Non-Stick Frying Pan

Imitation crab meat is delicate and can easily fall apart if not handled properly. To make sure that your sticks stay intact, make sure that you use a non-stick pan for frying.

Cooking Oil

When cooking imitation crab meat, you can opt for vegetable/plant-based oils like sunflower oil, canola oil, and soybean oil. If you prefer olive oil, pick the standard one and avoid extra virgin—this one has a lower smoke point, which means that it is much sensitive to high heat. Olive oil, as compared to its extra virgin variety, is much safer and healthier (as it avoids less oil).

Three Basic Ingredients: Egg, Flour, and Bread Crumbs

These are the three simple things you need in order to up your imitation crab meat game. Before they go into the hot oil, you simply have to coat them with these two ingredients and voila—you’ve got yourself some crispy and delicious seafood sticks.

Prepare The Ingredients

First, make sure that your imitation crab meat has been completely thawed. Cold meat is fine, but try to avoid frying them while still frozen.

Then, place each of the three ingredients in individual containers: one bowl for the beaten egg (this will serve as your egg wash), one plate for the flour, and one plate for the bread crumbs. Set aside.

Steaming

If you’re not a fan of frying, or if you would like to make more guilt-free dishes, then this one is for you! The imitation crab meat steams beautifully, and here is how to do it.

Things You’ll need

Steamer

You have two main choices: an electric steamer and a bamboo steamer. You can get the former from any appliance store, and the latter in most Asian supermarkets or kitchen supply stores.

There’s very little difference between these two in terms of performance (although some argue that since bamboo absorbs moisture, less water drips on top of the food). They, however, differ in price: an electric steamer would cost way more than a bamboo steamer.

Pot

You’ll need a pot if you’re working with the bamboo variety. Electric steamers already have their own steaming units, so all you need to do is plug it in

Check For Doneness.

Your imitation crab sticks should be ready in about five to ten minutes, but since imitation crab meats come in different shapes and sizes, don’t be afraid to check it mid-cooking for doneness. These sticks are technically already cooked, so there’s no chance of undercooking. Fool-proof!

Pro Tips

Avoid Spoilage! Only Get What You Need From The Pack.

If you’re not going to use all of the sticks in the pack, it’s best that you only get what you need. Most imitation crab meat sticks are individually packed with thin plastic, so you should not have a difficult time separating them. Do not thaw all of them at once—returning thawed sticks to the freezer could lessen the shelf life.

Add Texture By Frying One Side Of The Stick.

Imitation crab meat already has a wonderful, crab/lobster-like texture, but if you want another layer of flavors and/or a bit of crunch, you can fry one side of the stick until it turns golden brown.

Eat It As You Would The Real Thing.

Remember that these sticks mimic actual crabs, so why not eat it as you would the real thing? Simply squeeze some lemon on it and have it with some delicate butter sauce! Not as lavish as the real thing, but hey, not bad either!

There You Have It!

That’s it! A few sure-fire ways on how to make and enjoy imitation crab meat, as well as all the basic things that will help you easily get started. The flexibility is simply inspiring—and using these methods myself; I continue to find new and exciting recipes. If this is your first time cooking with these sticks, good luck!

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! Let me know what you think in the comments below! Recipe ideas are more than welcome as well.

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