Can You Eat Surimi “Kanikama” While Pregnant?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 2, 2022

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Kanikama might not be what you think it is, so let’s first get the facts straight about both surimi and kanikama

It is not raw crab meat or raw fish, and it’s easy to get scared when carrying a baby with these sorts of products.

Let’s look at exactly what’s in it so you can make an informed decision.

Can You Eat Kanikama While Pregnant?

Is kanikama raw?

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

Luckily, kanikama isn’t raw. It’s fish that has been cooked, steamed, or boiled and then turned into a paste. It might look raw because of the smooth texture, but you can even add the imitation crab sticks when they are not further cooked by you.

Surimi is actually the fish paste the surimi sticks are made of, imitation crab or “kanikama”.

What is in kanikama?

Kanikama is made of fish paste (surimi). It’s steamed or boiled white fish that’s been pounded into a paste and rinsed so often that the odor and taste of the fish have almost completely dissipated.

That fish paste is called surimi, and it’s the same paste that imitation crab is made from. Kanikama is the original imitation crab stick, or surimi stick.

A few seasonings are added to the paste to make it taste like crab meat. These are:

  • starch
  • egg white
  • salt
  • vegetable oil
  • humectants
  • sorbitol
  • sugar
  • soy protein
  • transglutaminase
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Is kanikama safe to eat while pregnant?

As long as the dish with kanikama in it has been properly cooked and then safely stored, you can safely eat it. Kanikama that’s not past its expiration date is also safe to eat as is because there is no raw fish in it.

Starch is perfectly safe to eat and is in fact recommended to be one-third of your diet when pregnant because it can make you full without adding too many calories.

It is also recommended to keep your salt intake low as this can increase blood pressure even more during pregnancy. Because the imitation crab sticks are high in sodium, you shouldn’t eat too much of them.

Soy protein is also great since it’s a healthy source of plant proteins and even MSG is not harmful to you or your baby.

The white fish used in these fish cakes is also the kind that’s low in mercury and lead, so that’s also a safer option to choose than predatory fish and larger fish species that can contain more.

In this video, Stacey Nelson, a Registered Dietitian from the Department of Nutrition and Food Services, discusses if pregnant women should avoid too much fish or fish with too much mercury in it during pregnancy.

She says that it’s fiction, avoiding fish because of mercury. The benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks associated with mercury, and the omega 3 fatty acids even have a built-in protection against mercury damage.

Moderation is key here, as long as you don’t eat more than 4 ounces a week (that’s a lot of kanikama), you’re completely in the safe zone.

If you want full control over all of the additives, protein, and fish that you eat each day, you can also make your own kamaboko with this recipe and change the ingredients to your wishes. I even have some substitutes and ideas in there for you to try.

It’s great to experiment with your options like that and see what you can come up with.

Conclusion

It’s very good to be on your guard when it comes to fish products during your pregnancy. Raw fish is not a good thing, I’ve even wrote a whole article on what to eat at the sushi bar when pregnant because of it.

Fortunately you can safely eat these surimi sticks because they don’t contain any raw fish or harmful additives. Just watch the amount a little because of sodium, but otherwise, you’re good to go!

Also read: these are the 9 best recipes that use kamaboko to try out

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.