Crabless Crab Legs
By Sheere Ng - Thursday, Dec 27, 2012
We call it crab stick… but did you know that orangey red sticks found in California rolls or at barbeque parties is not made of crab but fish?
Crab stick is a type of kamaboko or Japanese processed seafood product mainly made with lean, white fish. The fish is deboned, made into a paste and combined with additives for flavour and texture. Another example is the pink fish cake or Narutomaki, commonly found in udon.
Crab sticks was first produced and patented by a Japanese seafood processing company called Sugiyo in 1973. According to a report by Asahi Shimbun, it was borne out of a failure to create an artificial substitute for jellyfish, a then expensive ingredient. The makers managed to create the crunchy sensation using plant fiber derived from seaweed, but when soy sauce was added, a chemical reaction caused it to dry out. Fortunately, the company’s former president noticed that it resembled crab meat and turned the failure around.
The main ingredient of crab stick is Alaska Pollock, the same fish used in McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish, plus crab flavouring and a layer of red colouring on the outside.
Crab stick is now available all over the world, marketed under names like Krab Sticks, Ocean Sticks and Imitation Crab Sticks. For many years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required that the product be labeled “imitation crab” since it contains no crab meat at all. But in 2006, according to The Wall Street Journal, the seafood industry’s lobbyists successfully got permission to drop that unappealing name and instead use a long-winded label: “Crab-flavored seafood, made with surimi, a fully cooked fish protein.”