Demystifying Imitation Crab: Can You Consume It Raw?

Can you eat crab imitation raw?

Simulated crab, also known as crab stick or surimi, is a popular seafood alternative enjoyed by many people. It is made from reformed fish meat that has been seasoned and flavored to taste like crab meat. A common question that arises is whether imitation crab is safe to eat raw. In this article, we will explore the safety and preparation of imitation crab and provide insight into the best ways to consume it.

Understanding Simulated Crab

Simulated crab is typically found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. It is sold in the form of rectangular sticks with a white interior and a pinkish-red exterior. This seafood substitute was first created in Japan about 50 years ago as an inexpensive alternative to real crab meat, which can be expensive and less widely available.
While imitation crab is made with fish meat, it generally does not contain any real crab. The most common fish used in the production of mock crab is Alaskan pollock. Trimmings and waste from other fish products are collected and processed into a paste, which is then flavored with natural and artificial flavors, starch, sugar, and salt. The fish paste is then formed into rectangular molds and coated with a pinkish red dye to resemble the appearance of crab meat.

Is imitation crab raw or cooked?

One of the most important factors to consider when eating seafood is whether it needs to be cooked before consumption. In the case of imitation crab, it is important to note that it is already cooked when you purchase it. During the manufacturing process, the imitation crab sticks are cooked, making them safe to eat without further cooking.
This pre-cooked nature of the imitation crab makes it a convenient and ready-to-eat option. It can be eaten straight from the package, added to salads and sandwiches, or reheated for use in a variety of dishes.

Can you eat mock crab raw?

If you buy simulated crab meat in a store, it is already cooked and does not need to be recooked before consumption. It is safe to eat mock crab in its current state without any additional preparation. However, it is important to store it properly in the refrigerator to ensure its freshness and safety. It should not be left at room temperature for long periods of time as it may become unsafe to eat.

Preparing mock crab for consumption

The only preparation required before eating mock crab is to unwrap it from its packaging. Imitation crab sticks are typically individually wrapped in plastic film in a plastic container. Once the package is opened and the foil is removed, the imitation crab is ready to eat.
Although imitation crab can be enjoyed as is, it is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways. It can be sliced, shredded or pureed, and can be served cold or hot. Its seafood flavor can add a unique twist to a wide variety of dishes, allowing for creativity in the kitchen.

Reheating Imitation Crab

If you prefer to enjoy your Imitation Crab warm or add it to hot dishes, it can be easily reheated using several methods. It is important to note that reheated imitation crab should be consumed as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture.
One method of reheating imitation crab is to use a microwave. Unwrap the imitation crab sticks and place them on a microwaveable plate. Heat at 50% power for about 30 seconds. If you prefer them piping hot, add another 10-20 seconds of heating time.
Another option is to reheat the fake crab on a stovetop. Unwrap the crab sticks and place them in a saucepan with a splash of cold water in the bottom. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and heat on low for 5-10 minutes.
Alternatively, you can use an oven to reheat the fake crab. Prepare the crab sticks in an oven-safe pan and place the pan in a preheated oven at 250°F. Allow them to heat thoroughly before serving.
To steam, place the unwrapped imitation crab sticks in a single layer in a steamer basket. Place the basket over a pot of boiling water and steam for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to exceed this time as the quality of the fish sticks may be compromised.

Recipes Using Imitation Crab

Imitation crab sticks can be enjoyed as a snack on their own, but they also serve as a versatile ingredient in a variety of recipes. Here are some ideas for using mock crab meat:

  1. Seafood sandwiches: Mash the crabmeat into a paste and mix with mayonnaise. Serve the mixture in a crusty white roll with crisp lettuce leaves.
  2. Seafood salad: Slice or shred the imitation crabmeat and add it to a summer salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber3. Crab Cakes: Combine shredded mock crabmeat with breadcrumbs, beaten egg, chopped onion and seasonings. Form patties and fry until golden brown.
  3. Sushi: Use imitation crabmeat as a filling for sushi rolls. Combine with avocado, cucumber, and sushi rice, then roll in seaweed and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Pasta dishes: Add sliced crabmeat to pasta dishes such as linguine or spaghetti. Toss with olive oil, garlic and your choice of vegetables for a tasty seafood pasta.
  5. Crab Rangoon: Mix cream cheese, minced garlic, and shredded imitation crabmeat. Spoon the mixture onto wonton wrappers, fold into triangles, and deep-fry until crispy.
  6. Seafood Dip: Mix softened cream cheese with chopped crabmeat, diced tomatoes and seasonings. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

These are just a few examples of how imitation crab can be incorporated into a variety of dishes. The versatility of this seafood alternative allows for endless culinary possibilities.


In conclusion, imitation crab is a cooked product that can be consumed straight from the package without further cooking. It is safe to eat and can be enjoyed raw. However, it is important to store it properly in the refrigerator and avoid leaving it at room temperature for too long. Imitation crab is a convenient and flavorful seafood option that can be used in a variety of recipes to add a unique twist to your meals. Whether you choose to eat it as a snack or incorporate it into more complex dishes, imitation crab can be a delicious addition to your culinary repertoire.


Is it safe to eat fake crab without cooking it?

Yes, imitation crab is already cooked during the manufacturing process, so it is safe to eat without additional cooking.

Can I eat simulated crab straight from the package?

Absolutely! Imitation crab can be eaten straight from the package without any further preparation.

What is mock crab made of?

Imitation crab is made from reformed fish meat, usually Alaskan pollock, along with natural and artificial flavors, starch, sugar, and salt. It typically contains no real crab.

How should I store simulated crab to keep it fresh?

It is important to store simulated crab properly in the refrigerator. Make sure it is sealed in its original packaging or in an airtight container to maintain its freshness and safety.

Can I reheat imitation crab if I prefer it hot?

Yes, you can easily reheat mock crab using methods such as the microwave, stovetop, oven, or steamer. Just be sure to consume reheated imitation crab promptly for the best flavor and texture.

What are some of the dishes I can make with simulated crab?

The versatility of imitation crab allows for a wide variety of dishes. You can use it in seafood sandwiches, salads, crab cakes, sushi rolls, pasta dishes, crab rangoon, and seafood dips, to name a few. The possibilities are endless!