What’s the Difference Between Authentic and Imitation Crab?

Crab is like a perplexing puzzle for so many people. They don’t always know how to eat it. They don’t know where it comes from, what it should taste like, and what makes good crab in the first place.

It’s a tough conundrum. Thankfully, this will get you started by going back to the basics. While you stay at one of our Siesta Key vacation condos, we want to make sure you understand imitation crab meat ingredients and why you have to have the claw.

What is the difference between canned crab meat and fresh? Is canned crab meat okay or is it best to avoid it entirely? We break down what makes a good crab- and why this matters.

What's the difference between imitation crab and authentic crab? || Peppertree Bay

What is Imitation Crab?

So what is imitation crab? In short, imitation crab is not actually crab at all. It is a mock or faux-crab that relies on ingredients to mimic the texture and taste of authentic crab.

Imitation crab is predominantly made with surimi, which is basically a fish paste. It encompasses a blend of fish flakes and other fishy parts, often based in other ingredients, such as mayo, to create a crab-like texture base.

Crab sticks are often made of imitation crab, and sushi is almost exclusively imitation-styled. The fish you most commonly find, buried away in imitation crab, is Pollock, Mackerel, cod, and other common fish species.

The only ingredient you won’t find in imitation crab meat? Crab!

You can look at imitation crab the same way you look at a hot dog. It is not vegan because it relies on fish-based ingredients, but it is rarely single-sourced or one “main” ingredient.

It is a crab-styled versatile ingredient used in many crab dishes, including crab cakes, California rolls, and most frozen crab items from a grocery store.

The catch-22? We know it is tasty and that is appealing in its own right. But you if you want the authentic experience, you have to take it to up a level.

How to Differentiate Canned and Fresh Crab

Authentic crab is just that- it’s real crab. Fortunately, most restaurants that offer crab options rely on authentic crab.

Many people wonder about canned versus fresh, and how to choose crabmeat. The answer is not clear, as some restaurants will utilize canned crab for their crab dishes.

Both are “authentic,” but one kind is superior in taste and quality. It depends on your expectations. If you are ordering from a restaurant, you should verify if they are using canned meat.

Though, if you are wondering if crab meat in a can already cooked, the answer is yes. This does not speak on the quality, but rest assured, fresh meat is more desirable across-the-board. For convenience at a grocery store, and to avoid the mishaps of preparing fresh crab on your own, canned meat may be the way to go.

Difference Between Lump and Claw Crab Meat

Furthermore, what is the difference between lump and claw crab meat? Colossal lump crab meat is the highest grade and consists of the chunks of meat that connect to the swimmer fins, while lump crabmeat is next tier and consists of large chunks of body meat and broken colossal lump chunks – both offering a suburb, bright and delicate flavor profile.

Claw crab meat is a lower grade, but is considered to be the most flavorful, and still has an incredible profile that doesn’t get drowned out easily by seasonings – it works well for dishes such as soups and chowders, dips, and other dishes with heavy sauces.

Backfin and special crab meat are the next two tiers of meat – backfin consists of chunks of lump crab meat mixed in with flakes of white body meat. Special crab meat includes smaller flakes of meat from the body. Both types are typically used to enhance the flavor of dishes where presentation is less important.

Verify with your waiter on the kind of crabmeat you expect to see laid out on the plate. Ideally, you should have a claw to complement the lumps. It may be cut for you, such as in a pasta dish or as a side.

The above was all about crabmeat, from the authentic and true to the imitation styles which populate many seaside dock restaurants. But, we know just as well as anyone that Florida vacationing is more than a good crab dish.

Stay at one of our top Siesta Key monthly condo rentals to expand your possibilities. Book online for fast results and choose the exact kind of waterfront condo that speaks to you.

Contact Us

Peppertree Bay Association
6056 Midnight Pass Road
Sarasota, Florida USA 34242

T 941.349.7777
F 941.346.0371


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