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Imitation Crab Salad Recipe Turned Vegan For National Kamaboko Day

If you’re a sushi fan, chances are good that you’ve had surimi, a paste made from fish and turned into products used in U.S. sushi bars where it is called kani (photo #1). It’s also used as an inexpensive substitute for crab in imitation crab salad and elsewhere. American brands are called crab stick, imitation crab, or sea leg.

In addition to kani, surimi is also made into other forms that are popular in Japan. It is cousin of kamaboko, which also appears in Japanese restaurants and grocery stores, under the English name of fish cake (photo #3).

Both kani and kamaboko are made from puréed white fish. The purée is then shaped and flavored differently.

Kamaboko has its own holiday in Japan, National Kamaboko Day, celebrated on November 16th.

But there’s is no holiday for kani or surimi (or even the California Roll), so we’re appropriating its cousin kamaboko’s holiday to give you a delicious “vegan kani” recipe. (Full disclosure: There is a National Crab Day, March 9th, but we could never use it to discuss fake crab.)

Head here for a more general discussion of kamaboko.

Here’s some insight from our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog. She’s created the recipe for vegan kani salad below, using real tofu instead of imitation crab (you can, however, use crab, imitation or real, in the recipe).

“It’s no secret,” says Hannah, that “crab” (a.k.a. “kani”) in your California roll at most sushi bars is anything but. [It’s also often sold in the prepared foods section of your grocer as “imitation crab salad.”]

“Surimi has been the go-to crustacean imitation treasured by restaurateurs for its low cost, touted by nutritionists as being higher in protein than the real deal, and willingly accepted by sushi bar patrons.

“While that may be true, let’s not forget what surimi really is: cheap, highly processed white fish (typically pollock) with added sugar, color, preservatives, and fillers. If you’re looking for a healthier or more ethical choice, that really doesn’t fit the bill.

“You know what always gets high marks for nutrition, sustainability, and versatility? Tofu!

“It’s ‘the other, other white meat’ that’s the chameleon of the plant-based protein world. Most people think of tofu as a meat substitute, but let’s not forget that it works just as well to curb seafood cravings of all sorts.

“Super firm tofu is strong enough to withstand a fine julienne cut, reminiscent of the shredded, stringy texture of torn surimi. I’ve used it in the recipe below.”

“Don’t be crabby about fake surimi salads,” says Hannah. “Make your own plant-based kani salad instead. This version is higher in protein and fiber, comes together in minutes, and is full of flavor.”

Prep time is 15 minutes.

Editor’s note: If you want to use kani for an imitation crab salad and regular mayonnaise instead of vegan mayo, go for it!

  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (3.5-ounce) package sweet potato glass noodles (substitute rice noodles)
  • Boiling water
  • 10 ounces super firm tofu, julienned
  • 1 sheet toasted nori, shredded, divided
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted black and/or white sesame seeds

    1. PLACE the cut cucumbers and carrots in a large bowl and toss with the salt. Set for about 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile…

    2. BREAK the glass noodles in half and place them in a heat-safe bowl. Pour boiling water on top to cover. Let stand until rehydrated; about 7 minutes. Drain thoroughly and rinse in cold water before adding to the bowl of vegetables.

    3. ADD the tofu, half the nori, and half the scallions to the bowl and very gently toss to combine.

    4. WHISK together in another bowl the mayo, vinegar, and soy sauce until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and fold carefully with a wide spatula to incorporate.

    5. TRANSFER to a serving bowl and top with sesame seeds and the remaining nori and scallions. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.


    Surimi, a.k.a. imitation crab, crab stick, and sea leg.
    [1] Surimi, imitation crab leg also known as crab stick or sea leg (photo © Fresh Direct).

    California Roll Uramaki (Reverse Roll)
    [2] What looks like a large piece of crab leg at the right side of this California roll is surimi, imitation crab (photo © Umami Information Center).

    Slices of kamaboko, fish paste, prepared like sasjimi.
    [3] Kamaboko: here, slices of kamaboko (fish cake) beautifully arranged as sashimi, topped with salmon roe and shiso leaf. Here’s the recipe (photo © Just One Cookbook).

    Imitation crab salad recipe with tofu instead of surimi.
    [4] Vegan kani salad, with tofu replacing surimi/imitation crab leg (photos #4 and #5 © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

    Vegan Kani Salad Recipe With Tofu
    [5] Close-up on the salad.

    *Super firm tofu is my top pick, since it’s ready to use right out of the package, no draining needed. If you can’t find this, extra firm is also great after pressing for 10 – 15 minutes. This helps remove a bit more of the water and create a more compact texture. My favorite brands are Hodo Organic Extra Firm Tofu, Nasoya High Protein Super Firm Tofu, and Wildwood Organic High Protein Tofu.”





    FOOD FUN: Holiday Edition Figgy Pudding SPAM

    Can Of Figgy Pudding Spam
    [1] New Figgy Pudding SPAM, a limited edition for the holidays (all photos © SPAM Brand).

    Slices Of Figgy Pudding Spam Elegantly Plated
    [2] Slices of Figgy Pudding SPAM on a cake stand for a buffet.

    Figgy Pudding Spam & Brie On Crackers
    [3] An hors d’oeuvre: Figgy Pudding SPAM and Brie.

    Christmas Pudding, also called Plum Pudding and Figgy Pudding
    [4] An actually figgy pudding. Here’s the recipe (photo © California Figs).


    There are currently 11 flavors of SPAM, from Jalapeño to Portuguese Sausage Seasoning; and, as limited editions for the holidays, Oven Roasted Turkey and Pumpkin Spice SPAM.

    Now, SPAM is debuting a new holiday flavor, Figgy Pudding SPAM.

    A few words on figgy pudding: It’s not what Americans think of as pudding. Rather, “pudding” is the British term for dessert. It can be anything sweet.

    Figgy pudding is a steamed cake, soaked with brandy or rum and studded with dried fruit (dates, figs, plums). How much alcohol is in it? It’s often flambéed!

    Here’s more about it and a recipe.

    But back to the main topic.

    Inspiration for the new flavor was a recent survey of 2,000 American adults. It revealed that 69% of consumers do know what Figgy Pudding is or have heard of it, but only 17% have had it.

    Not surprising: It’s not really an American custom.

    But that’s why the SPAM® Brand created its own fusion Figgy Pudding, giving SPAM the flavors of Figgy Pudding and adding another classic holiday flavor.

    With both savory and sweet notes, SPAM® Figgy Pudding evokes a sense of nostalgia added as a slice with:

  • Breakfast eggs
  • Burger topping (a slice with or without a fried egg)
  • Hors d’oeuvre or appetizer plate (see below)
  • Hors d’oeuvre or snack skewers with cheese and gherkins
  • Salad course topper (or skewer on the side)
  • Snacks (how about musubi, SPAM sushi—see see photo #2)
    Imagine a food-fun hors d’oeuvre tray or appetizer plate with Figgy Pudding, Pumpkin, and Oven Roasted Turkey spam, with fancy crackers and a side of cranberry relish. Serve with sparkling wine and you’ve got a memorable dish. Also, see photo #3.

    Get Figgy Pudding SPAM while supplies last at, and Walmart.

    Also tune into a video animation of Santa and elves singing “We Wish You a Figgy Christmas” (And A SPAMTASTIC New Year!).

    For additional photos/videos, fact sheets, recipes, additional survey data, and more, please see HERE.

  • What is SPAM?
  • The history of spam
  • How SPAM got its name.
  • Yummy SPAM recipes
  • Why is junk email called spam?

  • The history of figgy pudding.

  • National SPAM Day is July 31st.
  • National SPAM Musubi Day is August 8th.




    GIFT IDEA: Smoked Mushroom Garum For The Serious Cook

    Noma’s Smoked Mushroom Garum was the first product for home cooks from Noma Projects, a food lab that was opened last year by the innovative, 3-Michelin-star Noma restaurant in Copenhagen.

    Introduced earlier this year in the U.S., it quickly sold out. The latest batch is on the verge of selling out, so see if this wonderful condiment is a gift for anyone on your list.

    Smoked Mushroom Garum is a vegan version of garum*, the fermented Roman fish sauce that’s been used for thousands of years as a key condiment and seasoning.

    (What’s garum?)

    As ancient Rome produced garum, so did other cultures rely on fish sauce. There are several different Asian fish sauces, of which Thai fish sauce, nam pla phrik, Vietnamese fish sauce, nuoc nam, are just two.

    Check out these different types of fish sauce, all made from fermented fish.

    Fish sauce—and Noma’s vegan version of it—is an umami food. (What’s umami?)

    A splash of fish sauce in cooking, or a few spoonfuls over a cooked dish, makes a big difference in flavor. Any serious cook would love a bottle.

    If you think you’ve never had fish sauce, how about Worcestershire sauce? Delicious, isn’t it?

    Worcestershire is a British variation of Asian fish sauce that contains anchovies (the history of Worcestershire sauce).

    Noma Project food scientists turned to koji† and mushrooms instead of fermented fish to create their umami-rich, vegan Smoked Mushroom Garum.

    In addition to smoke and mushroom flavors, it stands out as not as intensely salty as typical fish sauces. But it does the trick!

    Do you know someone who would appreciate having a bottle to play with?

    There are recipes on the website, as well as many recipes to be found using garum. Here’s a collection for starters.

    Don’t delay, it’s selling out again. Head to


    [1] Smoked Mushroom Garum, an exciting new condiment (photo © Noma Projects).

    An Ancient Roman mosaic of a bottle of garum fish sauce.
    [2] An ancient Roman mosaic of a bottle of garum (photo via Coquinaria).

    *Garum is derived from gáron, the name of the fish whose intestines were originally used to make the sauce.

    †Koji is cooked rice and/or soybeans that have been inoculated with a fermentation culture, Aspergillus oryzae, also known as kōji mold although it’s a naturally-occurring fungus. It’s used in the making of alcoholic beverages such as saké and shōchū, and to ferment the soybeans used in making soy sauce.





    Wine Chips: Gourmet Potato Chips Crafted To Pair With Wine

    Wine Chips Potato Chips With Glass Of Wine
    [1] There’s a flavor of wine chips to pair with your favorite wine (all photos © Wine Chips).

    Wine Chips Potato Chips With Glass Of Wine
    [2] There are four varieties in the Winter Edition Cheese Collection, (photo © Williams Sonoma).

    Wine Chips Potato Chips
    [3] Manchego potato chips pair with rosé, sparkling white wine, and full-bodied reds such as Tempranillo.

    Wine Chips & A Glass of Red Wine
    [4] At the end of the day, treat yourself to a glass of fine red and a few crunchy, cheesy potato chips.

    Glasses Of Red Wine With Wine Chips
    [5] A special gift idea: a bottle of wine with matching Wine Chips.


    Our Top Pick Of The Week, Wine Chips, is also a pick for holiday gifts, hostess gifts, and anytime gifts for lovers of “gourmet” potato chips.

    Cheese is a time-honored pairing with wine, and these artisan cheese-infused potato chips are made to pair with wine, with different cheeses. Think cheese with a crunch!

    There are also non-cheese flavors, such as gourmet salts and meats like bacon and ribeye. (Ribeye chips!)

    These handmade potato chips are crafted to pair with specific types of wine, from light whites to full-bodied reds and sparkling wines.

    Produced in small batches in Southern California, the savory, sophisticated snacks are made from locally grown potatoes and premium cheeses sourced mostly from Wisconsin dairy farms.

    The potatoes are lattice-cut into slices much thicker than the average chip, delivering a very satisfying crunch.

    You don’t have to drink wine to enjoy Wine Chips. These thick, cheesy potato chips go well with any beverage—beer, cocktails, soft drinks—or no beverage at all. Just pop open the top of the canister and enjoy a few.

    > The history of potato chips.

    > The history of the potato.

    > The different types of potato.

    > The different types of cheese.

    > The history of cheese.

    All flavors are sold in collections of three, four, or five flavors. You can see them all here.

    For this winter collection, you can also buy the flavors individually, one canister with three refills.

  • Asiago Potato Chips: This Italian grating cheese pairs well with Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and fruity reds such as Sangiovese and Zinfandel.
  • Blue Cheese Potato Chips: This chip has a distinct “big cheese” flavor that pairs nicely with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Port, and sweet dessert wines.
  • Manchego Potato Chips: This sheep’s milk Spanish cheese pairs perfectly with rosé, sparkling white wine, and full-bodied reds such as Tempranillo.
  • Smoked Gouda Potato Chips: The strong, smoky flavor and sweet saltiness of Dutch Gouda pairs nicely with Cabernet Sauvignon and most red wines. These chips are also delicious with Pinot Grigio, Rosé, and sparkling wines like Cava, Prosecco, and Sekt.

  • The Charcuterie Collection: Billionaire’s Bacon, Dry Aged Ribeye, and Spicy Calabrese.
  • The Salt Of The Earth Collection: Black Lava Jalapeño, Hawaiian Red Sea Salt, and Sel Gris (learn more about the different types of salt).

    Private Reserve refers to the special, exclusive, small-batch Wine Chips flavors that the company’s Batch Masters and Master Sommeliers create.

    Always seeking new, enticing flavors, they craft the flavors in the company’s gourmet Innovation Kitchen in Southern California.

    Members of the Club receive one unique and delicious flavor every month of these exclusive, limited-edition potato chips (recent examples: Serrano Cheddar, Sweet Coconut Curry).

    This is a unique gift for the potato chip lover who has a gourmet palate.

    There are Gold, Platinum, and Diamond plans. Here’s more information about the Club.

    Head to

    Looking ahead for reasons to celebrate with Wine Chips:

  • March 4th is National Snack Day.
  • March 14th is National Potato Chip Day.
  • May 25th is National Wine Day.
  • July 25th is National Wine and Cheese Day.
  • August 19th is National Potato Day.
  • September is National Potato Month.




    Make One Of These Bread Pudding Recipes For National Bread Pudding Day

    What are you doing for National Bread Pudding Day, November 13th? We’ve got recipes for sweet and savory bread pudding, below.

    First, a note: November 13th is also National Indian Pudding Day.

    We love Indian pudding, and strongly recommend that you try the recipe. But let’s focus on bread pudding.

    First, there’s some disagreement about National Bread Pudding Day. Yes, it is November 13th, but there are some dissenters:

  • Cook’s Info says that May 1st of May is Bread Pudding Recipe Exchange Day.
  • Maybe, but don’t confuse that with National Bread Pudding Day.
  • Cookbook author George Cleary says that May 15th is National Bread Pudding Day. Mr. Cleary, we’ll come over for bread pudding on May 15th if you like, but make more bread pudding on November 13th.

    Bread pudding is a custard with bread cubes. It originated in the 11th or 12th century as a way to use stale bread.

    At first the recipes were savory. Pieces of bread were cut or torn, combined with other ingredients (cheese, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, bits of meat), topped with custard, and then baked until the top was set but the inside was soft and creamy.

    Over the centuries, as sugar became more affordable, sweet versions emerged as desserts.

    You can use any bread cubes—baguette, brioche, challah, cinnamon raisin, and panettone are delicious.

    For savory recipes, baguette, brioche, and whole grain bread.

    And yes, good old white bread works for both sweet and savory, if not as gloriously as the other options.

    The bread is drenched in a mixture of milk and eggs (the basis of custard), plus sugar, vanilla, and spices for sweet recipes. The result is somewhat similar in flavor to French toast but with much more custard.

    Bread pudding can be baked plain or with any combination of fruits, nuts, and chocolate (for sweet recipes) or herbs, vegetables, and proteins (for savory recipes).

    The dish can be served hot or cold, with or without whipped cream or a sauce, such as hard sauce or custard sauce (for sweet recipes) or cheese, mushroom, or other sauce (for savory recipes).

    Are you salivating for bread pudding? Check out these recipes.

  • Apple Cheddar Bread Pudding
  • Baked French Toast (part French toast, part bread pudding)
  • Challah Bread Pudding
  • Chocolate Bread Pudding
  • Irish Soda Bread Bread Pudding
  • Panettone Bread Pudding

  • Applewood Bacon & Chestnut Bread Pudding
  • Artichoke Bread Pudding
  • Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
  • Chestnuts & Applewood Smoked Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Cranberry, Pecan & Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Mushroom, Leek & Parmesan Bread Pudding
  • Mushroom & Radicchio Bread Pudding
  • Portabella Bread Pudding
  • Savory Sausage and Cheddar Bread Pudding
  • Spinach Bread Pudding With Lemon & Feta
  • Spinach & Garlic Bread Pudding
  • Spinach-Shiitake Bread Pudding

    Bread Pudding With Custard Sauce
    [1] Brioche bread pudding with hard sauce. Find the recipe in Foster’s Market Cookbook (photo © Foster’s Market Cookbook).

    Bread Pudding With Nuts & Raisins]
    [2] Bake it in a pan for clean rectangular portions. You can order this one online (photo © Mackenzie Ltd).

    Individual Bread Puddings
    [3] Savory bread pudding like this shiitake and spinach recipe replaces stuffing or dressing as a savory side. Here’s the recipe (photo © Food & Wine).

    Cranberry-Pecan Bread Pudding with Bacon
    [4] Cranberry-pecan bread pudding with bacon (photo © Food & Wine).





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