Whether you want imitation crab meat or not, chances are if you are eating crab somewhere other than a well-established seafood restaurant, you will be eating imitation crab.
You may think this is a good thing if you have seafood allergies or if you want to save a buck, but it can be very unhealthy because it is inflammatory, and packed with artificial ingredients.
Crab Rangoon is perhaps the main culprit for secretly inserting artificial crab meat unbeknownst to the average eater.
Due to the fact that they contain mostly cream cheese and are then deep fried, whether it is artificial or not, one can barely taste the crab, so it is easy to pull a fast one.
Read on to learn about why you should care whether or not the crab meat you are eating is artificial or not.
If it is imitation, what is it made of?
The main ingredient in artificial crab is fish. Pollack fish, to be exact. This is a cheap fish to obtain in abundance.
It is frozen and then shipped to factories where it is made into a slurry paste and then frozen into thin sheets where a red paint of sorts is pasted on to made it look more like real crab meat.
During this process, a wide array of chemicals and other artificial ingredients ranging from sugar to GMO soy to propylene glycol (antifreeze) are added. The finishing touch is artificial crab-like flavor.
More than that
The ingredients list of artificial crab meat resembles that of a can of toilet bowl cleaner more than something to eat.
You should be especially leery of the amount of salt, sugar, sorbitol, food dyes, and carrageenan used if you already have certain health issues. [R]
Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky tricks of the trade
Unless you are ordering straight up crab, chances are you are going to wind up with artificial crab meat.
This is especially true if you are eating somewhere located nowhere near an ocean or if you are eating frozen food such as a TV dinner.
You must also beware of artificial crab meat being slipped into dishes where it is well-masked by other ingredients, even in finer establishments. For example, in a gumbo would be very hard to tell whether the crab is real or artificial.
Alternatives to imitation crab meat
If you are in the market for crab meat but do not want to risk getting stung with the artificial stuff, make sure to eat at a decent seafood joint.
These will, of course, be easier to find along various coasts and much harder to find when you are located inland quite a way.
Always ask whether the crab meat is made with real crab or surimi. [R]
Another idea is if you really want crab Rangoon but do not want to risk ingesting the artificial gunk, go ahead and order cream cheese wontons instead.
They taste nearly the same and contain no crab, artificial ingredients or otherwise.
It’s not the healthiest snack for your diet, but it’s healthier than imitation crab. As an added bonus, they are usually cheaper also.
For the sake of your health, you should try your best to eat only real crab meat, not the fake. [R]
The barrage of salt, dye, and chemicals you will ingest is just not worth the potential savings, and that is if you even get any savings.
It is a dirty trick, but very common practice for restaurants to use artificial crab meat but make no mention of it and thus charge the going rate for fresh crab.
In any event, it is really no one’s responsibility but your own to confirm what you are putting into your body. There is really no benefit to eating artificial foods at all, especially fake crab.