What Is Imitation Crab Meat Actually Made Of?

Considering it’s got the word “imitation”
in it, you really shouldn’t be too shocked to find that imitation crab is far from the
real thing. And yeah, that tightly packed red-and-white
stuff you’ll find displayed in the seafood section of the grocery store may resemble
crab, but it’s obviously not really made of crab at all. “These are crabs! Fresh, local Delaware run-off crabs!” “Those don’t look anything like crabs! They look like sea scorpions.” Here’s the question, though: what is imitation
crab meat made of? And more importantly, is it worth your money? Weirdly enough, while you won’t find any crab
meat in imitation crab, you will find seafood — because imitation crab is made up of a
paste called surimi, which is basically processed, mashed-up fish. Usually, it’s actually a combination of fish
such as Alaskan pollock or Pacific whiting fish that have been put through a complicated
manufacturing process and turned into a gel-like substance. Obviously, seafood paste doesn’t exactly sound
all that delicious, so in order to create the right taste and texture, manufacturers
add in starches, sugars, artificial flavorings, and sometimes MSG. However, all these additives significantly
decrease the nutritional value of imitation crab, and they can even include gluten, so
it’s best to stay away if you’re sensitive to that. It’s probably no surprise that restaurants
love this stuff, because imitation crab serves as a low-cost alternative to the real thing. And that’s where it first came from, too:
Surimi was actually first created by Japanese chefs who were looking for a way to use their
leftover fish. That creation eventually became the foundation
of imitation crab and, since then, its popularity has only grown. But despite being good for restaurants on
a budget, imitation crab meat comes with some fairly hefty drawbacks. For starters, real crab meat is just downright
healthier than imitation crab, as it has more Omega-3 fats, less sugar, and more protein,
and vitamins such as B12 and zinc. When you dine on imitation crab meat, however,
you will at least ingest less sodium than if you have a plate of the real thing in front
of you, so that’s a small bonus. Lower nutrients and higher sugar content aside,
it’s easy to see why imitation crab has become so popular. Nobody’s going to argue that crab cakes aren’t
usually a little pricey in restaurants, and the imitation stuff works as a decent, quick
option when you add it to a salad or serve it with dip. However, some ocean environmentalists say
that this bargain seafood product has actually become a little too popular. In order to keep up with the demand and make
enough imitation crab to go around, large amounts of pollock must be harvested, and
this has some concerned about the potential for overfishing. Making sure the fish used for imitation crab
has that appealing crabby appearance also involves a lot of water to improve its color
and the texture of the meat. This can lead to wastewater pollution if improperly
discharged into the ocean. Of course, nobody’s going to tell you not
to enjoy a little imitation crab in your sushi or seafood salad. As long as you’re okay with the fact that
you’re probably not consuming any crab at all, go for it — especially if you don’t
mind that it’s not all that healthy either. If you do opt for imitation crab meat over
the real stuff, however, just make sure you’re storing it properly — because while it does
contain preservatives that help extend its shelf life, it still needs to be treated much
the same way as normal fish. Most importantly, once it’s been opened or
thawed out, you’ll have only around three to five days before it spoils completely. And don’t worry… you’ll know when that has
happened. “It’s the smell. If there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it.” In the end, if you’re looking for crab that’s
real and authentic, you ought to know that the only crab you should be ordering is the
one that comes straight from the sea — not spit out of a grinder at a manufacturing plant. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
stuff are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

42 thoughts on “What Is Imitation Crab Meat Actually Made Of?

  1. Hard to get over the fact that it's a paste, but happy that a lot less fish are being used for the product with so much water and starch content.

  2. I absolutely loved that crab meat it's awesome that fake crab meat it's nice taste I eat a bag of the fake crab meat I really do here cheers from cameron in Australia here

  3. When i was a young human i knew it wasnt real crab. In my head, imitation crab is just its own delicious thing. I love it!

  4. I've eaten imitation crab and liked it, but dont know what it's really made of.
    Maybe it's like, when i've heard people criticize food at a popular fast food place, some say it's monkey meat, or kangaroo meat. Hmmm, I don't know about that.
    Anyway, fake crab is ok, but I'll take the real thing any day.

  5. I've been using this to make crab salad for years. I just thought it was another type fish I had no idea it was actually a paste with fillers. I'm a bit turned off by that.

  6. I must admit to a weakness for this stuff. It’s cheaper than any other seafood & I can eat a whole pound of it straight out of the package, dipped in balsamic vinegar.

  7. And I hate it when I ask the waitress before ordering if it is real crab. She says yes, and then I am served the imitation crap.

  8. And basically by that happening to the ocean it can call imitation crab to get just as expensive as regular crab and if that's the case you mind as well just get regular crab

  9. I had surimi before. Imitation crab is used a lot in many Chinese restaurants especially for their fried crab sticks. I feel like imitation crab is great for people with shellfish allergies.

  10. One of my local grocery stores uses initiation krab and tiny shrimp to make a seafood salad. They add fresh veggies and zesty Italian dressing It’s really good

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