Imitation crab is one of the most ambiguous and exotic kinds of cuisine found mostly in the western nations. It originated from Japan in the early 1970s and a few years later, it found its way to the international market.
I know you may be wondering:
What exactly is imitation crab?
Do you love sushi? If you do then you have probably tasted the imitation crab which is a major ingredient in the California roll among other kinds of sushi.
Imitation crab also referred to as crab stick comprises of a variety of ground fish species forming a paste. As you walk into any supermarket or grocery store you will come across a processed imitation crab. Note that manufacturers usually add more flavour in terms of wheat starch, sodium and other artificial flavours.
In addition, the Japanese refer to the crab stick as ‘surimi’. Often you will hear some people calling it as so. To be precise, surimi is a common ingredient in sushi. It’s a type of processed seafood that features white flavoured fish which is properly cooked and then frozen.
Moreover, the pink exterior is the cover of the ingredients mentioned above and the final process is the preservation. Note that most crab sticks are pink in colour.
The nutritional facts of surimi
Crab sticks like other meals have nutritional advantages as well as detrimental effects on your body. However, all these depend on your consumption amount, if you will use it moderately, the positive values are higher than the negative.
- Fewer calories and low fat
If you intend to maintain a certain weight or shed off some pounds, crab sticks will not get on your way at all. It has very low-calorie count as well as low fat. A quick assumption is, if you take an ounce of crab sticks you will have consumed only 27 calories and 5.6 milligrams of cholesterol.
The tendency to experience heart chronic diseases and any disease that is related to calories and cholesterol in the body reduces.
- It has phosphorous
This mineral is mainly known for strengthening your bones and teeth. It also aids in regulating the heartbeat rate.
- A lot of sodium
The standard and acceptable amount of sodium intake per day is between 1500 and 2300 milligrams. An ounce of crab stick contains about 238.33 milligrams of sodium. As you can see, it has very high rates of sodium which makes you susceptible to kidney related diseases, stroke and high blood pressure.
It’s scientifically advisable to serve and eat the imitation crab in form of salad. This enhances the ability to absorb the good ingredients.
How to cook imitation crab
While you can eat the crab sticks directly from the processed can, you can also cook it in different styles. Note that, for a first timer the difference in taste will be in the mode of preparation but I assure you that it tastes perfect. There are methods to cook imitation crab as stated below.
- Sautéing on a stove
- Using a steamer
- Deep frying the crab sticks
- The chilled option
- Using the oven
Sautéing on a stove
If you would love to have authentic yet delicious meal, it’s better to sauté the surimi. This is mainly because it allows you to play around with flavouring ingredients.
What you need
- Sautéing pan
- Depending on your expected serving- ¼ kgs. of imitation crab
- An egg
- Lemon mustard
- Diced celery
Wash your hands and dry them ready to start the process.
Mix all the ingredients above evenly and then squeeze the lemon on the mixture.
Divide the mixture into various portions and make them flat or rectangle in shape. Go ahead and chill in a refrigerator.
Bring your sautéing pan to the heat source and add some little oil to avoid sticking. Make sure the heat is at its medium level.
Add the meat portions you had formed and put in the pan. Let them cook until they are evenly brown.
At your own discretion, do not shy away from adding condiments in form of onions, broccoli and pepper.
Garnish as desired and serve while hot.
Using a steamer
This is a mode of cooking that is suitable for those health concerned individuals. This is because all the nutrients remain intact and there are not many additives.
What you need
- The surimi that is enough for you.
- A steamer
- A pot that has a strainer to serve as a steamer if you don’t have one.
Prepare your steamer for the cooking process
Add the 2 cups of water to the water reservoir on the steamer
For a more thorough cooking of the pieces of meat evenly place the crab sticks on the strainer.
Plug the steamer on the heat socket and switch it on. Let it cook for a sufficient amount of time, mostly about 10 minutes.
Observe the meat to ensure its well cooked but not overcooked as this will lead to its disintegration into pieces.
Remove from the steamer and serve hot
Deep frying the crab sticks
From the name, this involves majorly frying the crab sticks. If you are not concerned about the amount of fat you use and thereby going for a good taste, this is a good option.
What you need
- Pre-sliced crab meat
- A clean deep fryer
- Cooking oil
- Optional concoction made from (corn starch, milk, baking soda, salt and water)
Get your crab meat and wash them clean setting them aside and ready for the process
On your deep fryer, pour the vegetable oil and heat it to 350 degrees in temperature
Prepare the concoction by mixing all the ingredients well and dip the crab stick pieces in the concoction before placing each on the deep fryer.
Cook until evenly brown and serve hot.
The chilled option
The nutritious crab meat salad is the best option for those who would want to make a quick preparation of the dish.
What you need
- Crab sticks
- Diced potatoes
- Green onion
- Worchester sauce
Wash your hands and mix all the ingredients above. Make sure they are perfectly mixed.
If you need further taste and flavour on your meal you can add whatever you want. The salt, chilli or sauce are your best bet.
Place in the refrigerator for some time so it becomes chilled.
You can serve this kind of imitation crab as sandwich or filling for some other wraps.
Using the oven
With your oven you can make this a sumptuous meal if you follow the steps below
Things you need
- ¼ kg of imitation crab
- The oven
- Fresh flat fillet of fish
In a clean bowl, mix all the above ingredients perfectly and evenly.
Take your fillets and cut them into halves
Roll the mixture on the fish fillet pieces
Stick a toothpick on the fish to prevent the fish from rolling over one another.
Place the fish pieces in the baking pan and cook at a temperature of 140F
Serve hot with rice or pasta.
The crab sticks can easily disintegrate so you need to handle with care.
Ensure you observe it while cooking to make sure it doesn’t overcook or over steam.
If you are going to deep fry the crab sticks, don’t put all the pieces at once rather take a few for them to evenly cook.
This is a very delicate meat just like fish. Therefore, check the packaging for the expiry dates and store them in the frozen state if possible.
Even when you have safely stored it in the fridge it can still obtain bacterial growth which could lead to food poisoning. Before you begin to cook ensure you have confirmed its freshness by noting the possibility of colour change as well as the aroma change.
There are very many recipes online on how to cook imitation crab to choose from. Regardless of whether you prefer to use the sautéing, oven, deep frying, chilling or a steamer, this is a very unique and loved cuisine.
The best-preferred method of cooking will depend on various factors which include the kind of material you have for the process and your knowledge. Most people who love surimi know that the method of preparation doesn’t really matter if you can be artistic with your recipe.
The best available choice though would be the chilling method. This is because of the nutritious nature and the value you gain from the meal but also that it takes such a short duration of time to make. The second best on the list would be the sautéing method of preparation because it allows you the opportunity to play around with the flavouring.