Imitation crab sticks are a processed food product designed to look and taste like crab. It is an cheap alternative to real crab meat and it is much easier to work with than a real crab. It can be eaten on its own or used in a variety of seafood dishes, such as seafood salad and sushi. Imitation crab meat has a rubbery texture and salty taste. It usually smells similar to real crab meat, and this smell is especially strong if it is cooked. If you have ever wondered how crab sticks are made, keep reading to find out.
How is imitation crab meat made?
The first part of the manufacturing process is to mince the fish, commonly Alaska pollock although others are used. In Japan, where imitation crab was invented, this minced fish is called surimi (Japanese for ground meat). The surimi is then repeatedly rinsed with water in a large tank to remove the undesirable materials. The minced fish is then placed on a screen filter to remove any remaining bones and fish scales. It is then sent to have the water removed. Sugar, or sugar substitute, is used to sweeten the mixture and provide a preservative effect. This is then tested for quality and frozen.
The second part of the process is actually forming the crab sticks. The first step of this process is to defrost the surimi and cut it into smaller portions. This is mixed with salt, starch, egg whites, and real or imitation crab flavoring. A machine forms these into a thin sheet, and the mixture is then cooked. They are then sliced into crab sticks and the red/orange food coloring is added to the outside of the stick. The crab sticks are then packaged for shipping.