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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Imitation Crab Meat (crabmeat) Salad

Unless you ask what the ingredients are when you are eating out chances are very good you are going to consume imitation foods of some type.  Anyone who has eaten crab meat salad has likely eaten imitation crab meat.   I am not a huge fan of anything imitation especially when it comes to food.  Imitation foods tend to be chuck full of preservatives as well as artificial colourants and flavours. One of the grocery stores had flake style crab flavoured seafood aka imitation crab meat as one of their items in their $1 sale so my husband picked up 2 packages to try.  I admit to being extremely critical when it comes to trying this type of food.

imitation crab meatSurimi which means fish slurry (Chinese) or ground meat (Japenese) is a fish-based food product intended to mimic the texture and color of the meat of lobster, crab and other shellfish.  The fish is usually a white fish that has been pulverized into a paste, flavoured and shaped as desired.  It has a rubbery texture when cooked.  Surimi is extremely popular in Asian countries.  Imitation crab meat is the most common surimi product in Western markets.  It is availabe as chunks or artificial crab legs. 

The brand he purchased was Green Ocean Seafood Products.  Each package was 227 g of fully cooked, ready to serve flake style crab flavoured seafood.  According to the package it is low in fat at only 2% fat per 3 oz serving and is suitable for use in salads and pastas.  The ingredients were whitefish, water, starch, sugar, salt, mirin, soybean oil, sorbitol, crab extract, crab flavour seasoning and natural colour.  The type of whitefish was not specified but typically fish used to make surimi include milkfish, swordfish, tilapia, big-head pennah croaker, golden threadfin bream, cod, bigeyes, pacific whiting, Alaskan pollock and various shark species.

imitation crab meat salad
The imitation crab meat came frozen so I thawed one package to make a crab meat salad.  Despite being labled as "flaked" the meat did not flake as suspected.  I was however extremely impressed with the flavour.  I definitely picked up the sweet notes of the meat.  The meat had a nice, slightly rubbery texture that did pair nicely with the crunchy vegetables added to make the salad.  Overall this product did perform nicely.  The salad was quite good and definitely a keeper.  The next time I make it though I will be using real crab meat as it really is a tasty salad that we both enjoyed (please see notes below recipe).

Imitation Crab Meat Salad

1 - 227 g (about ½ lb) imitation crab meat
¼ c diced red onion
¼ c diced green bell pepper
¼ c diced celery
1 generous dessert spoon mayonnaise
3 generous dessert spoons plain yogurt

Thaw meat then pull or cut into chunks.  Prepare vegetables and stir into meat.  Add mayonnaise and yogurt.  Mix well.  Chill about 1 hour then serve as a side salad or use as a sandwich filling. 

The attracting feature of imitation crab meat is the price.  The reality is when trying to reduce food costs using a product like imitation crab meat is one more way to get the taste without the high cost of crab meat.  This is a good product for this purpose and it does give rather good results.  However, two things stand out in my mind and that is the addition of sugar and sorbitol (a sugar alcohol) which accounts for the immediate sweet notes.  At about 6.9% carbohydrate content it's not surprising the imitation crab meat tasted sweet.  Fresh cooked and canned crab meat have 0% carbohydrates.  In addition to the carbohydrate content, the imitation crab meat had more than double the sodium content but was surprisingly lower in chloresterol.

Over all I certainly cannot fault this product in terms of performance or taste.  It is in my opinion a great product for what it is essentially a clone of something it isn't.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate this product a 7.  In terms of a cheaper product to replace fresh crab meat, I feel canned crab meat would be a healthier choice.  A word of caution when buying imitation crab meat some brands do contain MSG so if you are avoiding MSG for any reason look for one that doesn't have it added.  This product also is not a good choice for those watching carbs.


4 food lovers commented:

DJ said...

I may be in the minority here but I actually love imitation crab meat. I use it more than the real thing in most dishes.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi DJ and thanks for visiting. I think when it comes to imitation anything knowing what you are getting is a good idea. Imitation crab meat does have its uses and it is considerably cheaper but the sodium and carbohydrate levels are a concern especially for anyone on a restricted diet.

Kim said...

I make something similar but add seafood sauce for a little zing.

The best part - it is low in fat!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Kim, adding seafood sauce would really add a nice flavour!