Faux King Crab

24 Jan

I could tell a pretty embarrassing story about crab here. I’ll spare you the details and just share this recipe for faux King crab instead. If you say it three times fast, you’ll laugh just as much as you would have at my embarrassing story.

Algal oil is pretty essential for the ocean flavor of this recipe. I don’t really recommend skipping it and it will give you a good DHA boost for the day, but in a pinch you could use a similar amount of kelp powder. It can be found in the Amazon link below or at your local natural food store in the supplement section as vegan DHA or Omega-3. Please see my notes below the recipe regarding tofu/agar.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, I recommend steaming on the stove or in a conventional steamer for the same amount of time. A stove top pressure cooker could also be used.

If you make this recipe, be sure to use the hashtag #fauxkingcrab on Instagram or Facebook, I would love to see your results!

Many, many thanks to Somer McGowan of Vedged Out for assisting in recipe testing for this recipe.


  • 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed*/350g after pressing
  • 2/3 cup/150 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons/30g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/10g cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons/12g white or yellow miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons/10 ml algal oil
  • 2 teaspoons/3.5g agar powder**
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon/10g salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp/120 grams vital wheat gluten
  • Paprika for color


  1. Measure all ingredients up to the vital wheat gluten.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender for at least two minutes, until completely smooth. Measure vital wheat gluten.
  3. Mix together tofu and vital wheat gluten. Let rest for about 15 minutes to let gluten absorb. Mixture will still be wet.
  4. Split into two halves. Blend each half in a food processor for several minutes with either a dough blade or regular blade. The dough will get extremely warm and stringy, but still be slightly wet. It will look like warm, stringy taffy when it is done, watch for this. My dough reached 106 degrees, but food processors will vary in efficiency. A kitchen aid with dough hook can also be used.
  5. Lay each half onto a large sheet of aluminum foil (or parchment paper if you avoid aluminum.) Stretch into a wide rectangle. Sprinkle with paprika.
  6. Tightly seal foil (or fold ends of parchment paper) and wrap a second time. Repeat with other half of dough.
  7. Add two cups of water to bottom of Instant Pot and insert trivet. Place packets in and set on manual, high pressure for 60 minutes. Quick release when time is up.
  8. Set packets aside at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Slice into sticks for surimi, break into chunks, or shred for crab salad. Can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week. Freezing is not recommended as it will alter the texture a bit, but it can be frozen if need be.

*different brands of tofu will vary in weight. Please be sure to weigh after pressing. Total weight of tofu and water combined should be 500g.

**agar is totally optional, recipe works just as well without it, but the finished product has a little more firmness when cooled with agar.


27 Responses to “Faux King Crab”

  1. TAMI FERREE January 24, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

    So the algal oil you link to is lemon flavored is that what we want? I have called around and cant get this stuff anywhere so Im going to order online.

    • avocadosandales January 24, 2018 at 8:32 pm #

      Yes, the lemon flavor is barely there, the actual flavor is like algae/ocean flavor!

  2. narf7 January 25, 2018 at 12:32 am #

    Amazing recipe! I bow to your brilliance Ms A&A you ROCK!

  3. Kristen January 25, 2018 at 1:54 pm #

    I’m hoping to get to this recipe this weekend, trial run before I prepare Super Bowl snacks! I was hoping I could replace the agar with a smaller amount of carageenan since that’s what I have already. What do you think, would that work as well? Go Eagles!!

    • avocadosandales January 25, 2018 at 2:41 pm #

      Absolutely! I actually tested it without agar and it works just as well, but it is a little more firm with a firming agent.

  4. monica January 26, 2018 at 10:31 pm #

    What can you use instead of Tofu? I am allergic.

  5. Secrets & Leeks January 28, 2018 at 3:49 am #

    Can you do it without the Instapot and if so just steam it for how long app.??

    • avocadosandales January 28, 2018 at 6:01 am #

      Yes, just steam for about the same amount of time in a convenient steamer or on the stove top

  6. Jeanette Watts January 29, 2018 at 9:31 am #

    Has anyone tried adding a nori sheet for a more seafood taste?

    • avocadosandales January 29, 2018 at 9:33 am #

      I haven’t seen someone do it, the algal oil is a very strong seafood taste, but one could wrap it in a nori sheet before cooking

    • Nelleke February 6, 2018 at 10:32 am #

      I added one sheet of nori and two spoons of kelp powder instead of the oil. I also added dried sea weed to the steam water ( i am using a stove top steamer) . It smells very much like the ocean.

  7. lsveg January 29, 2018 at 11:46 am #

    Confused – if the combined weight of tofu and water should be 500g, what is the purpose of first pressing water out of the tofu, then adding water to bring it up to 500g?

    • avocadosandales January 29, 2018 at 11:51 am #

      You can absolutely just drain and add water to reach 500g 🙂
      During testing I found it easier to press instead since tofu weights vary.

  8. Scott and Jen February 1, 2018 at 6:17 pm #

    Is algal oil the same as algae oil? Thanks in advance. I can’t wait to try this.

    • avocadosandales February 1, 2018 at 6:45 pm #

      Yes, they should be the same!

    • Jen Slack September 30, 2018 at 2:16 pm #

      Mine didn’t turn out very stringy. More spongy.
      Flavour is amazing though. Did I do something wrong?

      • avocadosandales September 30, 2018 at 2:18 pm #

        Sounds like you need to process it much longer. It will look stringy before cooking if it’s fully processed. Also, make sure it’s wrapped tightly during steaming!

  9. meshell February 3, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

    I bow down to your brilliance.

  10. Paivi February 11, 2018 at 11:25 am #

    Has anyone made this without a food processor (I don’t have)? I tried, but the dough was too moist, much more than in the picture. It was like a thick pancake paste.

    I’m wondering if my tofu block wasn’t firm enough: it has 10.2 grams protein/100 grams. Some other tofu brands have as much as 19 grams/100g. Could you clarify this in the recipe, please? So that other people wouldn’t fail because of this.

    I decided to add 0,85 cups (2 dl) of wvg in order to knead this. As a result my “crab” was much more dense that it should have been, but the taste was suberb, anyways. I don’t have miso so I used tamari instead and I substituted algal oil with one sheet of nori. Tastes like sea.

    • avocadosandales February 11, 2018 at 11:35 am #

      Yes, the dough is meant to be very moist, but the kneading in the food processor is essential to the mixture firming up prior to cooking. Any kneading device could be used, like a kitchen aid with a dough hook or a bread machine.

      This recipe was tested with several varieties of tofu, mainly with a variety that has about 10 grams of protein per 100g (nasoya extra firm) so I don’t believe your failure was due to the brand of tofu. I recommend weighing the tofu plus water to equal 500g, since most brands average around 400g.

      I would recommend following the recipe directions exactly to ensure the best results before making modifications.

  11. zeebvdu February 13, 2018 at 1:58 pm #

    Wow it really looks like the real thing, I’ve got to try this one day 😊🌟

  12. Sharon March 10, 2018 at 11:57 am #

    Made it, turned it into Faux Crab Imperial, (one of my hubby’s long-time favorites), loved it!
    He is a serious carnivore and he wants me to make this again! Winner, winner, vegan dinner!
    Thanks so much for all of your creations and your input on the seitan appreciation Facebook group! ✌💚🌱

  13. Lili March 31, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

    Can I leave the Vegetable Oil out and substitute the Algae Oil with something else in a more whole form to make up for the fishy taste?

    • avocadosandales March 31, 2018 at 1:51 pm #

      Please read the blurb above, I suggest kelp flakes instead of oil.

  14. Scott and Jen December 21, 2018 at 8:11 am #

    I have made this before with success but last night I tried it and the texture is like chewing gum. Do you know what could have happened?

    • avocadosandales December 21, 2018 at 8:54 am #

      Without being there while you made it, I can’t know exactly what happened. I would guess maybe it wasn’t fully cooked, as the texture is only soft like chewing gum when you first process it, not after cooking. Or possibly too much liquid was added.

  15. Gary December 23, 2021 at 6:29 am #

    Recipe looks inviting though at almost $4 just for 2t Algal oil I’d have to pass on that ingredient.Thank you for your recipes, I look forward to trying lots as I’ve just only discovered you!

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