Nothing to crab aboutI’m generally the kind of person who likes the real thing. When I was a pop drinker, plain old Coca-Cola was my favorite. I’d didn’t go for the spinoffs (and there were quite a few), although Diet Coke wasn’t too bad.
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
I’m generally the kind of person who likes the real thing.
When I was a pop drinker, plain old Coca-Cola was my favorite. I’d didn’t go for the spinoffs (and there were quite a few), although Diet Coke wasn’t too bad.
The same goes for fruits and vegetables. I prefer fresh or frozen — whether it’s from my garden or the produce section of the neighborhood supermarket, out of a jar that sits on one of our pantry shelves or from one of my four freezers — over anything from a can
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with canned. If you’re eating canned, you’re eating healthy, too. A University of Massachusetts study found that recipes made with certain canned ingredients, including fruits and vegetables, are similar in nutritional and taste value to those made with fresh or frozen items.
Also, a University of Illinois nutrition study showed that canned fruits and vegetables generally provide as much dietary fiber and essential nutrients as their cooked fresh and frozen counterparts. In fact, canned corn has more lutein than fresh corn. And canned spinach has loads of vitamins A and C.
And in these trying economic times that call for smarter grocery shopping, there are some pretty good bargains on canned fruits and vegetables in stores. Just about every week, there are sales that can save you valuable dollars that might be best spent elsewhere.
But there’s a least one food (some might call it an imposter) that’s caught my fancy over the years. It is imitation crab flakes.
Of course, there’s no comparison to the meat that comes from crab legs (if you don’t mind working for your food). My observation at Chinese buffets bears this out. Rarely do I see people with piles of imitation crab casserole on their plates, unlike those who stack crab legs like chord wood.
Imitation crab has been around for quite a while. It seems that the Japanese have been using an imitation crab meat, called “kamaboko,” for at least 500 years. Its base is “surimi,” a bland fish protein paste, which usually is made from Alaskan pollock.
I think my first encounter with imitation crab meat was in a salad, which you can find in almost every supermarket deli (although it is much cheaper to make yourself, and you can adjust the flavors at will).
But I’ve found some other uses for this alternative food. As an appetizer, it is good dipped in a homemade cocktail sauce that contains ketchup and horseradish. It also is wonderful in seafood gumbo (recipe, Page D2) and scalloped crab. It even seems to work OK in crab cakes.
You also could serve it as a salad topper, sandwich spread, chunky dip or appetizer cracker topper.
Co-worker Lori Weber Menke tells me she likes to warm it a little with a tiny bit of water, then shred it and use it in imitation fish tacos.
Not only is imitation crab meat cheaper than crab legs or crab meat in a can, it is a nutrition bargain. Three ounces of imitation crab meat made from Alaska pollock surimi supplies 25 percent of the U.S. recommended daily allowance of protein, at a bargain price of 85 calories, less than 1 gram of fat and no cholesterol. It’s also a good choice for those who can’t eat shellfish.
For Americans who are constantly worried about their fat and cholesterol intake, this is the real thing.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.