Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"They Actually Eat That:" Imitation Crab.

Remember the 90's? Back then, we had all sorts of chemically-processed sh*t disguised as food and drink. Things like Hi-C and Sunny D were only such-and-such percent juice. Cheese slices were not necessarily cheese. Artificial colors were everywhere, and gave kids unnecessary cases of ADD that made psychologists money. The food industry is still very, very fake...even in 'fresh' foods like sushi.

Usually, if a sushi roll has crab in it, it will be something called 'crab stick.' Crab stick is that strange white substance wrapped in red. It is often accompanied by various vegetables in the standard California roll. Chances are you will not know it is crab stick and not actual crab unless A) you have an extremely acute sense of taste or B) read the label on your sushi.

Yes, I just said that crab stick has no actual crab in it. It's not called "imitation crab" without reason.


Crab stick is mostly made of the miscellaneous whitefish called "Alaskan pollock." This fish is technically a type of cod, and is considered one of the few remaining palatable and sustainable fish in the world. Just so that we do not get the wrong idea here, Japan has a fair amount of processed whitefish products called kamaboko, but this seems to be the only one intentionally imitating another type of meat.

One of the other common ingredients in crab stick is egg whites. After fish and egg whites, there is usually a fancy-sounding binding agent such as the enzyme transglutaminase, to hold it all together. Slap some red food coloring on and presto! Instant "crab."

I can't tell if that's real crab or not. Probably not.

Notice how none of the above ingredients are even remotely related to crab. Even the canned lobster from what? Two-three weeks ago? is not good enough to get into fake crab. At most, crab sticks contain crab flavoring. Not only are crab sticks not crab, they are not even made of crustaceans

Remember: No crabs were harmed in the making of your sushi. Probably.