I have always liked fake crab, the lunchmeat of the sea. I was introduced to it years before I had the real stuff, and I’ve always found it good in an uncanny valley sort of way. It’s sweet and savory, and does pretty well in a dip or seafood salad. Though it may seem like a processed, thoroughly modern food, surimi has been around for hundreds of years and was originally invented as a use for leftover fish (resourceful!). It’s also decently high in protein (two grams per ounce!), which I appreciate.
As a dedicated krab enthusiast, I thought I had experienced the sticks in every available form until I saw this recipe for “Crab Stick Crackers with Crab Dip” on the Food Network website.
I did not make the dip, but the crackers were a revelation. The recipe is very simple: Heat some oil, unroll the krab, toss the krab strips in starch, then fry them. That’s all it takes to make a crispy cracker reminiscent of the crab-flavored snacks I buy in big tins at the Asian market. They taste like any generic fried thing when they first hit your tongue, but then the sweetness and umami that we associate with shellfish starts to play across the tongue, and it’s all just delightful.
Photo: Claire Lower
Start by unrolling your krab, then rip or cut into whatever shapes you desire. You can make long strips (for dipping), little squares for a cracker-like vibe, or thin strips for sprinkling over a salad or seafood chowder. Place the strips on paper towels and blot to absorb excess moisture.
Heat some vegetable oil so it’s somewhere in between 325? and 350?; you only need a couple of inches worth in a high-walled pot or pan. Place the krab strips or squares in a mixing bowl and toss with corn starch to coat. A tablespoon for every five ounces should be plenty. Don’t worry if the strips roll in on themselves; they will unfurl while frying.
Once the oil is heated, add the krab, working in batches so the strips have enough room to float around without touching. Fry for about five minutes, flipping once, until your crackers are a golden brown. You’ll know they’re done for sure once they quit bubbling, indicating all their moisture has been depleted.
Transfer to paper towels to finish crisping and season with chili powder, togarashi, or any other seasoning that strikes your fancy. I think a little citric acid or True Lemon powder would be fun, keeping with the seafood theme. You can also keep them plain.
Use your Krabckers like you would any crispy snack. Dip ’em into dip or use them as a crispy garnish for soup or salad. I’ve just been munching on them, as-is, without adornment, and my supply is rabidly diminishing…so I doubt they’ll see any soup. I think they’d be great on a chowder though, especially a corn chowder.