Surimi Kanikama Maki Roll: A Thick Futomaki Recipe

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Have you had surimi maki and fallen in love with it as I have?

Surimi Maki is the perfect roll! It’s very easy to make without any expensive fresh fish, yet still delicious. This easy-to-eat “kani maki”, or rather futomaki because we’re going to make a thick roll, is made with imitation crab, avocado, and rice, perfect for a quick snack or a light meal.

So let’s roll it!

Surimi Kani maki rolls

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How to make a kanikama maki roll at home

Surimi Kanikama Uramaki Roll

Surimi Kanikama Maki Roll

Joost Nusselder
Surimi sticks, or kanikama are a great addition to sushi because they have the taste of crab meat. A full-bodied aroma and go great with rice. In this recipe, I'll pair them with avocado.
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 rolls


For the fillings

  • 4 kanikama surimi crab sticks
  • 4 inches cucumber
  • ¼ avocado

For the sauce

  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp kewpie Japanese mayonnaise

For the wrapping

  • 2 sheets nori
  • 9 ounces short grain sushi rice pre-made with seasoning

For serving

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce in a saucer


  • Pad the kanikama dry with a kitchen towel and then cut them in half across the length, so you get two thin strips.
  • Cut the cucumber into thin strips and peel the avocado. Cut that into strips as well, slightly larger otherwise it's undoable and drizzle some of the lemon juice on it wto keep the strips from turning brown.
  • Lay out the bamboo sushi mat and cover it with plastic wrap, then use a spoon to put half of the rice on top (you're going to make two of these), moisten your hands with some water, and start spreading the rice out across the sheet. Be sure to leave just a little space on the bottom and top of the nori so you can use that to fasten the rolls later.
  • Cover the rice with a little mayonnaise so it's nice and sticky and put the kanikama on top (again, half because you're making two rolls), add some avocado, and cucumber slices as well.
  • Roll the maki with the bamboo mat, and take your time to be precise.
  • Then it's ready to serve. Cut it into 8 equal round pieces and start making the second roll.
  • Serve on a plate with a little soy sauce served on the side.
Keyword kanikama, Sushi, Uramaki
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
What is kani maki made of?

Kani means crab meat, so kani maki is crab meat wrapped in rice and nori seaweed. A kani sushi roll is natural crab meat but can also refer to kanikama (surimi sticks) fake crab.

Is kani maki cooked or raw?

Kani maki is cooked crab wrapped in rice and nori seaweed. Both the crab (or fake crab) and the sushi rice are cooked for making the center, and nori is roasted before used to roll the sushi.

Cooking tips

To make perfect sushi rice, rinse the rice several times to get rid of excess starch. Then cook according to package directions.

Once cooked, add a few drops of mirin and sushi vinegar and mix well. Let the rice cool before using it for sushi.

Also read: can you eat kanikama when you’re allergic to shellfish?

Favorite ingredients

My favorite short grain rice to use with kanikama is this one from Nozomi which has a great texture to it:

Nozomi short grain sushi rice

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My favorite mirin to use for sushi is just this cheap but effective Kikkoman Manjo Aji Mirin:

Kikkoman Manjo Aji Mirin

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The vinegar you use for your sushi rice has to be sushi vinegar. Rice vinegar won’t do as it doesn’t have the same salinity and sweetness to it.

The brand I use is Mizkan, a great affordable sushi seasoning that gets the job done:

Mizkan sushi vinegar

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I personally like to work with these larger crab sticks from Marutama Fisheries because it’s hard to find others that have an authentic taste. Plus the large size is great for adding it to larger sushi rolls:

Marutama Fisheries crab sticks

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Kewpie is almost synonymous with Japanese mayonnaise. In fact, it claims to be the originator of Japanese mayo.

You can, of course, use any type of Japanese mayo, but this recipe pairs best with the vinegary sweet taste of the Kewpie brand:

kewpie Japanese mayonnaise

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If you can’t find imitation crab, you can use real crab meat, which is more expensive of course. And I thin you’ll find it easier to find surimi sticks as well, so that’s not a real helpful tip :(

If you don’t have any, just make a different sushi roll right now and come back to this recipe later.

Kewpie substitute for surimi maki rolls

If you don’t have kewpie, you can use regular mayo as well. Add a little vinegar and sugar to get the taste close to what kewpie would bring to the dish.

Kewpie is a little more sour and sweet than American mayonnaise, so adding those ingredients can help get the right balance back.

How to store leftover kani maki

If you have any kani maki left over, just wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to a day. It’s best eaten cold anyway!


Easy, delicious, and cheap. What more could you ask for? Be sure to add this recipe to your to do list next time you’re making a few sushi rolls.

Also read: this is how to use your leftover kanikama, make a delicious imitation crab salad

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

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.