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If you love sushi, you are probably familiar with the delicious crabsticks sporting a bright orange outer skin, a popular ingredient in California roll(see recipe). They are not the real seafood but tastes almost like crab, and costs way less than crabmeat. No wonder they are widely used at sushi joints as fillings for rolls. You can also use them at home to make your own California roll.
How to cook imitation crab meat for sushi? The crab sticks are pre-cooked, hence they can be directly eaten out of the package by simply cutting them into long slices or shedding into thin pieces. You may further cook them in four different styles – sautéing on a stove, deep-frying, using a steamer, and chilling the crabsticks.
When cooking imitation crab you must be very careful because being pre-cooked meat, it has a soft texture. If not handled carefully, it can be easily torn into bits and pieces. Read on to find out the instruction on how to cook crabsticks for sushi
How to Saute Imitation Crab Meat On Stove
You will need the following items:
• A non-stick frying pan like this
• Butter for sautéing
• Garlic – finely minced or slightly crushed to release juices
• Imitation crab meat – cut into small pieces
Take a non-stick frying pan and put it on medium heat. Now, add a few spoons of butter and let it melt completely.
Add the finely minced or crushed garlic and keep frying until they turn brown in color and release a nice aroma.
Now add the imitation crab meat like this on Amazon and sauté for another five minutes until they are perfectly cooked. Be careful to avoid breaking the pieces.
Once this mixture cools, you may use it as a delicious filling inside your sushi roll. It beautifully complements the taste of vinegared sushi rice and other ingredients.
How To Cook Crab Sticks Using A Steamer
Steaming is a great alternative to frying as it keeps the nutrition intact and tastes great too. If you don’t like eating crab sticks raw out of the package, you may steam them before adding to your sushi roll.
You will need the following:
• A steamer
• A pot and a strainer if you don’t have a steamer
• Imitation crab meat
Prepare your steamer for cooking crab sticks by adding two cups of water. Don’t add a lot of water because your objective is to steam the sticks, not boil them.
Put the crabsticks evenly on the steamer to ensure that it cooks well. Evenness is the key to thoroughly cook all pieces.
Connect the steamer to a power source and switch it on. Now, let the imitation crab meat cook in steam for 10 minutes
Keep checking the meat to ensure it is properly cooked but not overcooked or else it will disintegrate into bits and pieces.
Remove from the steamer and let them cool. You can then use the steamed crab sticks as fillings in your sushi roll.
How To Steam Imitation Crab Meat Faster
If you wish to steam the crabmeat faster, consider boiling the water beforehand. When the water starts boiling, you may add the sticks to the steamer. Boiling water beforehand will ensure that when you put the sticks, there will be enough steam to cook your food quickly.
How To Deep Fry Imitation Crab Meat Sticks
If you don’t mind indulging your taste buds with deep-fried delicacies, try this style of cooking to add more fun and flavor to your sushi rolls.
You will need:
• 1-pound Imitation crab meat
• 1/2 cup of flour
• 1/2 cup of cornstarch
• Milk to make the batter
• A pinch of baking soda
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Frying oil (vegetable oil, canola oil or soybean oil)
Put a deep fryer on the gas stove and heat oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a frying pan, use a deep pot to ensure that the crabsticks submerge when frying.
Imitation crab sticks can be deep fried as is but coating them with a batter adds more flavor. To prepare the batter, mix the ingredients (flour, baking soda, cornstarch, milk, salt, and pepper) in a bowl. Add more milk or water to adjust the consistency.
Dip the crab sticks in the batter to ensure they are generously coated and then deep fry for a few minutes or until the outer cover turns golden brown.
Take the fried crabsticks out and drain them on paper towels to soak excess oil. Use them as fillings in your sushi roll.
How To Make Delicious Imitation Crab Meat Salad
If you are too busy to steam or cook crab meat for a hot meal, here’s a method to make them chilled. You may eat it as crabmeat salad or use as fillings in sandwiches or sushi rolls.
You will need the following:
• Imitation crab meat
• 2 potatoes, boiled and diced into thick slices
• Eggs (1 or 2 depending on quantity)
• 1 Green onion – finely sliced
• Mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon
• Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon
• Bell peppers, pinch
• Lemon juice – 1 full
You may cut the crabmeat in chunks or slice them lengthwise into half to use in a sushi roll.
Mix all the ingredients mentioned above in a bowl. You may adjust the seasonings to suit your taste.
The imitation crab meat prepared in this method can be served as a salad or used as filling for sandwich or sushi.
How To Cook Imitation Crab Patties
These scrumptious patties are easy to make and they can be eaten as tasty snacks. However, if you are a sushi lover like me, pairing them up with rice and nori can give you a heavenly feel.
While it may sound strange to use patties in sushi, you can always slice them into desirable sizes to add as fillings and enhance the taste of your sushi.
You will need the following:
• Imitation crab sticks – 1 pound
• Breadcrumbs – 1 tablespoon
• One egg
• 1/2 tablespoon of mustard
• Lemon juice
• 1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
• Vegetable oil or canola oil for sautéing
Cut the imitation crab roughly into small pieces and mix all the above ingredients in a clean bowl.
Now, you can divide the mixture into small size portions and flatten them to make patties. Keep inside the refrigerator and let chill for about an hour.
Place a large sized pan on medium heat and add some oil to prevent the patties from sticking to the surface.
Fry the patties on both the sides until they become light brown in color. You may also sauté sliced carrots and bell peppers.
When the patties cool slightly, make thick slices that you can use as fillings inside the sushi roll. It pairs well with sautéed carrots, bell peppers, and fresh cucumbers.
3 Tips To Handle Imitation Crab Meat With Care
Imitation crab meat is perishable food, thus it can get spoiled very fast. Once bought, you must remember to keep the package inside in the refrigerator immediately.
Even if you use properly frozen imitation crabmeat, check for any signs of molds or foul smell after thawing it completely.
Don’t overcook the crabsticks as they are extremely tender. Cooking for longer can disintegrate the crab meat and make them lose their shape.
How To Make Imitation Crab Meat Last Longer
Although imitation crab meat is a processed food, you can make it last longer by putting it inside a cold freezer. It does not matter whether you have opened the package or not. Simply store the crabsticks inside a freezer to make them last for weeks.
Regardless of whether you store the crabsticks for weeks or months, remember to check the smell and texture after thawing it completely. Also, don’t forget to check the expiration date mentioned on the package.
How do I know whether the crabmeat is still good to eat?
I would suggest you to use your senses to determine whether the imitation crab meat is still good to eat or not. The color should be the same as before. If the color changes, then this means deterioration has probably set in. You must also check the smell to ensure that it is good enough to eat. If it smells foul, throw it out of the window.
What is imitation crab meat called in Japanese
In Japanese, imitation crab meat is known as ‘surimi’ which means ground meat.
What does imitation crab meat comprise of?
It comprises of lean meat from different species of white-fleshed fish such as Pollock. The meat is ground to make a thick paste. Several additives such as egg whites, starches, oils, salt, and spices may be added to enhance the taste.
Is imitation crab meat vegan?
No, it is ground meat made with the flesh of several white fish. About 2% of the world’s catch is processed to make surimi paste of some kind.
Is imitation crab meat pre-cooked?
Yes, the surimi paste is cooked and then processed to form crab sticks. As a result, it is ready to eat food. Orange dye is also added to make it appear like shellfish.