Kani Tempura Roll – A unique Sushi

Kani is the Japanese word for crab, as Kani tempura roll, or just simply, is sushi, which originated in Japan in about the 14th century. This hot Kani Roll is a popular dish in Japan, found at most sushi restaurants. 

This spicy Kani Roll is a popular Japanese sushi roll, with a creamy, filling, spicy taste, made by shredding kani crab sticks then coating them in a spicy Sriracha mayo, and wrapping them up with sheets of nori seaweed and topped with spicy rice. This spicy Kani Roll is also known as the Kani Maki, it is just the crab (Kani in Japanese) which has been wrapped tight with spices and sushi rice, and then wrapped in seaweed. This spicy Kani Roll takes just 15 minutes to prepare once you have finished making your sushi rice, so I suggest making it yourself at home instead of visiting a Japanese restaurant; you would be shocked how easy it is to make Spicy Crab Roll at home. 

You can also make spicy shrimp rolls, using tempura prawns instead of crab. 

The ingredients for this style of tempura roll are actually easier to prepare, because everything is cooked, including the crab meat substitute. What makes kani tempura roll, or just tempura, slightly different than other sushi is the flavor of the imitation crab meat used. I prefer to prepare the Kani Tempura Roll using the crab sticks, as this is a much more efficient process. 

For this recipe, I like using crab sticks since it is easier to slice them up to bite-sized pieces. You can grill the crab sticks hours before company arrives, and then store them in a sealed Tupperware container once fully cooled. You do not have to cook crab, so all we wanted was to get them to browned.

Here’s a helpful video that I found to explain the process of making the Kani Rolls:

If you are not into buying the sticks of crab, and you want the real crab meat to be authentic, then you can still make the kani tempura roll with canned crab meat. For a crispy Tempura crab roll, you can use tempura crab instead of Kani crab in this recipe. If you like imitation crab meat, check out my Easy Avocado Crab Ceviche (with real or imitation crab) and healthy Imitation Crab Salad. 

Then, sushi masters will roll up shredded crab into rice, which is placed evenly over a sheet of kelp. A spicy kani maki is made from cooked crab flesh wrapped in rice and scallions; Kani maki was originally called shred crab meat or kani sticks, which were immersed in a mixture of spices by a sushi master before rolling the pieces into rice evenly placed on a sheet of microalgae. A spicy Kani maki done California Roll-style in the inward-outward direction has crab meat topped with avocado and cucumber wrapped with kelp, covered by a sheet of outer rice. 

What happens when you are cooking for guests that are not into spicy foods. It is totally fine to leave out spices in your sushi toppings in order to create spicy crab rolls. You can include the other ingredients in your sushi to give it more of a kick. Maybe add more avocado or cream cheese for a creamy filling, or include a fatty fish like tuna or salmon. 

Or perhaps you would rather have the crunchy Kani Maki. Adding the fried flour (tenkatsu) coating would add that extra crunch. For even beefier bites, swap out the kani sticks for tempura-fried softshell crab. It may be a bit trickier to prepare, but the savory, oily tempura batter that coats the juicy, sweet, tender meat will make your guests swoon when they bite into a sushi slice. 

You could also do a spicy shrimp roll, using tempura shrimp instead of crab. Do you have a friend that is a spicy crab roll lover?. Then, absolutely share this post with them, and urge them to make your hands go sticky, so that they can make some for you!. 

Kani tempura rolls are lower calories since less materials are used during rolling. Also, based on information, I found that the crab sticks are also a source of selenium, with lower cholesterol, compared to the actual crab meat. In consideration, the real Alaskan King crab is a better omega-3 source than this.

Also, this article points out “the imitation crab has just 81 calories and less than 1g of fat” per 3oz serving. And 3 ounces is roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Meanwhile, a generic kani tempura roll is just 15-20 calories a roll. While that is not much calories, when an average person is eating more than 15 pieces of sushi at restaurants, it really can add up to over 350 calories. 

Are the Kani Rolls Cooked?. The ingredients to this style of tempura roll are actually quite simple to prepare, as all are cooked, including the imitation crab meat. This makes the process of preparing sushi even more optimized, as it is possible to defrost it easily within minutes in a microwave. 

Also, it is perfect for those that are not too keen on eating raw-fish-based sushi, sushi made with azuki, and other sushis made with raw meat. Meanwhile, if you have leftover crab sticks from making sushi, you could also try making a tasty sushi salad. The surimi crab sticks, when heated up, will be a very tender texture when you bite them.

Also, it is a little bit of squishy fish meat when you bite in, which has less of a sweet taste. Although, because the meat is made of whitefish, such as pollack, it has a bit more of that fishy flavor to it compared to crab meat. 

The crab sticks used in Kani Tempura Rolls are best used for a half-year if frozen in a refrigerator. Otherwise, when they are microwaved, they can produce an unpleasant fishy smell. While they usually have very long shelf lives, my recommendation is that any single crabstick that is been opened and lying around your kitchen needs to be used ASAP, within 1 to 2 days maximum. Especially in very hot temperatures that can lead to bacteria growth which is not healthy.

And for those who prefer to have something tangy to dip their sushi in, I suggest an easy-to-follow Spicy Sushi Sauce recipe. A delicious sushi sauce can make eating sushi with family that much more enjoyable. If you prefer to do a little less work, you can simply dip the sushi into a little soy sauce, mirin, or spicy fish sauce. 

There are plenty of options out there to pick from besides those recommendations. The key is making sushi rolls that taste good to you, personally. 

Ravi Barot
Ravi Barot