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A friend introduced me to kani salad at a Japanese restaurant last year. My choices at Japanese restaurants are usually limited, since I avoid rice for multiple reasons and don’t care for the typical semi-wilted Japanese salad usually offered. (Maybe I just haven’t had luck with getting fresh salads at these places?) Finding an alternative starter to my usual hibachi or sashimi put a smile on my face!
Unfortunately, I later found out that the imitation crab meat used in almost every kani salad recipe is not gluten-free and often has added sugar. If you’re cutting sugar, or simply eating paleo or gluten-free, it turns out that a kani salad isn’t such a great option when going out, after all. How disappointing!
Imitation crab meat is actually made out of fish (typically pollock). I honestly don’t understand why adding starch and sugar is necessary. Then again, I’ve never tried making it myself. Maybe there isn’t an easy way to make the imitation similar to the real thing without the starches, but that’s not enough explanation for me to eat it.
The great news is, making your own homemade kani salad is incredibly easy! And, there really isn’t any good reason to use imitation crab meat.
My Japanese kani salad recipe uses real lump crab meat, which is so much healthier than the processed imitation stuff. You can use any crab meat, really, but I find that lump crab works best in a salad like this. The crab is the star here!
Traditional kani salad doesn’t use kelp noodles, but I thought they were a perfect fit for it. After all, kelp noodles are Japanese! And, they make this entire salad both filling and light at the same time.
If you don’t have kelp noodles, another option would be zucchini noodles, or even spaghetti squash, depending on the time of year. If you have a spiralizer (get one if you don’t – you’ll love it!), any vegetable that you can spiralize would make a great stand-in.
You can garnish this Japanese salad with sesame seeds for a little nuttiness, or fish roe if you’d like. I skipped them, since I ran out of sesame seeds and didn’t have fish roe on hand. I thought my Japanese salad was just as good without, but they do make nice additions if you have them.
Tools To Make Keto Japanese Salad:
Click the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.
- Large Salad Bowl – This set of bowls includes the perfect size to mix this keto salad recipe in.
- Measuring Spoons – I love these measuring spoons. It’s so convenient that they nest together for storage.
- Whisk for Mixing – This whisk has a handle that is comfortable to use. Perfect for whisking together the ingredients for the salad dressing.
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Kani Salad Recipe - Japanese Salad (Low Carb, Paleo)
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RECIPE TIPS + VIDEO in the post above, nutrition info + recipe notes below!
Click on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. (For better flavor development, do this in advance and refrigerate until right before serving.)
- Toss together the kelp noodles, cucumber, carrots, and crab meat. Mix in the dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds or fish roe (optional).
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Serving size: 1/4 of entire recipe
Video Showing How To Make Kani Salad:
Don't miss the VIDEO above - it's the easiest way to learn how to make Kani Salad!
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. You can find individual ingredient carb counts we use in the Low Carb & Keto Food List. Net carb count excludes fiber, erythritol, and allulose, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. (Learn about net carbs here.) We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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