What Is Kani Sushi? A Guide To This Unique Japanese Dish

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Japanese have unique dishes that aren’t only delicious but also beautiful.

If you visit Japan or any Japanese restaurant, you’ll find sushi on the menu.

Sushi is a versatile dish; made with various fillings and toppings.

So, what is kani sushi?

Kani sushi comprises steamed rice and crab meat wrapped in nori (seaweed), usually served with soy sauce and wasabi on the side.

There are different types of Kani sushi, such as nigiri, maki, and temaki.

Sushi contains various nutrients such as protein, omega-three fatty acids, and vitamins A and B12.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about Kani sushi, from its history to the different types available.

We’ll also suggest a homemade sushi recipe that you can try.

What Is Kani Sushi

What is Kani Sushi?

Perhaps before we even know what is Kani sushi, we should understand that it i is a combination of two food items; Kani and Sushi.

Sushi is a dish made with vinegared rice, usually combined with other ingredients such as seafood, vegetables, and nori (seaweed).

It’s believed that sushi was first created in Southeast Asia and later brought to Japan.

The word “sushi” refers to the vinegar-flavored rice, not the ingredients.

“Sushi” is written as 寿司 in Kanji, read as “su-shi“.

Kani, on the other hand, is Japanese for crab.

It can also refer to lobster or shrimp.

Kani Sushi is sushi rolls with crab meat as the main ingredient.

It’s a popular dish in Japan and is served as an appetizer or main course.

You can make Kani sushi with different types of crab meat, such as fresh, canned, or frozen.

The most common type of kani used in sushi is surimi, a processed fish paste made from whitefish called “kamaboko”.

Surimi has a chewy texture and is usually flavored with salt, sugar, and other seasonings.

It’s also dyed to resemble crab meat.

History of Kani Sushi

Kani Sushi originated in Japan and is believed to have been created in the late Edo period.

It was first mentioned in a cookbook called “Sukiyabashi Juho”, published in 1820.

The dish became popular in Osaka and later spread to other parts of Japan.

Nowadays, kani sushi is a common dish served in Japanese restaurants worldwide.

It’s a popular appetizer or the main course, often served with soy sauce and wasabi on the side.

What is a Kani Roll?

Kani roll is a spicy sushi roll made with kani, cucumber, and avocado.

It also comprises other ingredients such as mayonnaise, Tobiko (flying fish roe), and tempura flakes.

Thus, it consists of crab meat, cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise, Tobiko, tempura flakes and everything wrapped in nori (seaweed).

It’s usually served with soy sauce and wasabi on the side.

The traditional name for crab meat, or crab sticks, used in kani roll is kani maki.

The sushi master submerges the kani in boiling water to make it pliable and then used as a sushi filling.

It’s later rolled in nori (seaweed) with other sushi spices before being cut into bite-size pieces.

What is in a Spicy Crab Roll?

A spicy crab roll is also called a spicy kani roll.

As the name suggests, it’s a sushi roll made with kani (crab meat) and other ingredients that gives it a tangy flavor.

You can serve it with spicy Kani salad on the side.

What Is Kani Sushi? A Guide To This Unique Japanese Dish 1

Why is Kani Roll a Delicacy?

For centuries, Kani has been a popular delicacy in Japan.

It provides the necessary nutrients for the body and has a unique flavor loved by many.

Kani Sushi is a dish that combines the deliciousness of kani with the simplicity of sushi.

So, why is Kani roll a delicacy?

  • It uses imitation crab meat made of surimi.
  • It’s a dish that’s flavorful, nutritious, and easy to eat.
  • You can make it crunchy by adding tempura flakes.
  • Kani sushi is also a beautiful dish served on special occasions.
  • Anyone can eat Kani sushi, regardless of age or gender.
  • You can serve it with extra spicy Kani salad.

You need the following ingredients to make Kani sushi:

Sushi rice: Short-grain rice, commonly known as Japanese rice, is the best type of rice for sushi. It’s sticky and has a slightly sweet flavor. Below are some excellent sushi rice brands that you can use: Lundberg Organic California Sushi Rice, Kohaku Sushi Rice, Botan Calrose Rice, and Nishiki Premium Grade Rice.

Seasoned Rice Vinegar: Seasoned rice wine vinegar is used to flavor the sushi rice. It’s a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. You can use any brand of seasoned rice vinegar, such as Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar and Nakano Seasoned Rice Vinegar.

Nori Seaweed Paper: Nori sheets are edible seaweed used to wrap sushi rolls. It has a slightly salty and savory flavor. You can buy a variety of Nori sheets such as roasted nori, sushi nori, yaki-nori (toasted seaweed), and aonori (green laver).

Kani: Kani is the crab meat used in this dish. You can use fresh crab meat or canned crab meat. Remove the shells and cartilage before cooking if you’re using fresh crab meat. You can also use imitation crab meat made of surimi.


  • Rice
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sriracha
  • Pickled ginger
  • Kani (crab meat)
  • Nori (seaweed)
  • Rice vinegar
  • White or black sesame seeds
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi paste.

Instructions on How to Prepare Sushi Rice

Step 1:

Sort and pick through the rice to remove any stones or impurities.

Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer with cold water until the water runs clear.

Step 2:

Place the rinsed rice in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover the rice by about an inch.

Bring the rice and water to a boil over high heat.

Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 12 minutes.

Step 3:

Transfer rice to a large bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.

Add the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to the bowl and mix everything until the sugar and salt dissolves completely.

Gently fold the rice until it’s evenly coated with the vinegar mixture.

Instructions on Preparing Spicy Crab

Shred the crab meat into small pieces using a fork or your fingers.

Mix the crab meat with mayonnaise, sriracha, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds in a bowl.

How to Roll Spicy Kani Sushi

  • Cover the sushi mat with plastic wrap to prevent the rice from sticking.
  • Place a nori sheet on the mat, shiny side down.
  • Wet your hands with water and spread about a cup of sushi rice evenly over the nori sheet, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
  • Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of the rice.
  • Place the Kani mixture in the center of the rice and spread it out evenly.
  • Roll up the sushi mat tightly, starting from the bottom and using your hands to shape it into a log.
  • Unroll the sushi mat and then cut the roll into eight pieces using a sharp knife.
  • Serve with soy sauce, wasabi paste, and pickled ginger.

What is Kani Sushi FAQs

Is the spicy Kani roll eaten raw?

You can either have raw or cooked Kani sushi.

If you want to eat raw, ensure that the crab meat is fresh.

Otherwise, cook the crab meat before adding it to the roll.

How long does Kani sushi last?

It’s best to eat kani sushi within a day or two.

The sooner you eat it, the fresher it will be.

Can I make kani sushi ahead of time?

Yes, you can make kani sushi ahead of time.

Just roll the sushi and then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to a day.

Do I need a sushi mat to make kani sushi?

No, you don’t need a sushi mat to make kani sushi.

However, the mat makes it easier to roll up the sushi if you have one.

You can also use a kitchen towel or plastic wrap if you don’t have a sushi mat.

What can I use instead of crab meat?

You can use cooked shrimp or chicken if you don’t have crab meat.

You can also use tofu if you want a vegetarian option.

How spicy should the kani sushi be?

It’s up to you how spicy you want the kani sushi to be.

Add more sriracha to the mix if you want it to be spicy.

If you want it to be less spicy, add less sriracha or omit it altogether.

Can I use brown rice instead of white rice?

Yes, you can use brown rice instead of white rice.

Just cook the brown rice according to the package instructions.

It will take longer to cook than white rice, so plan accordingly.

Is kani sushi gluten-free?

Yes, kani sushi is gluten-free as long as you use gluten-free soy sauce.

You can also make it without soy sauce if you want to avoid soy altogether.


Sushi is a popular Japanese dish that consists of cooked rice and seafood or vegetables.

You can serve it in many different ways, but one of the unique types of sushi is kani sushi.

Moreover, you can make Kani sushi with imitation crab meat, which gives it a characteristic pink color.

Packed with flavor, sushi is perfect for a quick snack or light meal.

It’s easy to make at home, so give it a try the next time you’re in the mood for sushi.

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