Imitation crab is a seafood product made from "Surimi" or fish paste. The Alaskan pollock fish is most often used in preparing imitation crab meat. The fish is skinned, boned, and minced. Once it is made into "Surimi", the surimi is then shaped into chunks or tubes, then cut into chunks of sticks. It is cooked and coated with red food coloring to make it look more like authentic crab meat.
Imitation crab meat has less protein, cholesterol, and carbohydrates than real crab. Fresh lime juice may improve the flavor if you do not like the imitation.
The sticks are normally wrapped in a plastic cover to retain freshness. Individual "sticks" in many forms are usually coloured red or yellowish red on the outside, with a rectangular cross-section or a cross-section fibre showing white meat on the inside. In some stick forms, strings of the white imitation crab flesh can be torn from the stick in a similar manner to string cheese. This is cool!
Selecting and Buying
Certain kinds of fish, such as the Pacific whiting, cannot form firm surimi without additives such as egg white or potato starch. Before the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, mad cow), it was an industrial practice to add bovine blood plasma into the fish paste to help its curing or gel-forming. Today some manufacturers may use a transglutaminase to improve the texture of surimi.
Preparation and Use
Surimi is a useful ingredient for producing various kinds of processed foods. It allows a manufacturer to imitate the texture and taste of a more expensive product such as lobster tail, using a relatively low-cost material. Surimi is an inexpensive source of protein.Since crab sticks are cooked during the curing process, they can be eaten directly from the package. They are often used in seafood salads as a cheaper substitute for real crab meat.
They are also used in fishing as bait.
A California roll is a sushi roll made with imitation crab meat, avocado, and cucumber (sometimes) rolled with sesame seeds on the outside. Russian, American, and European deli counters feature various salads prepared with imitation crab meat, eggs, vegetables and herbs chopped together and seasoned with mayonnaise
Conserving and Storing
Once thawed, immitation crab will last about 5-6 days, if kept in air tight container. It's seafood, so anytime longer than that and you risk becoming ill.