I'm wondering what kind of fish is in imitation crab and if it is healthy for you to eat like other seafood. —P.H., Edmonds, Washington
Imitation crab or surimi (its Japanese name) means minced fish. The mincing process was developed in Japan almost 1,000 years ago. Imitation crab is made from mild-flavored, white-fleshed fish, usually pollack and/or whiting. The fish is deboned, minced and formed into a paste. Processors add flavorings, such as crab extract, as well as natural coloring and natural binders and stabilizers, like starch, salt, egg white and sugar. Imitation crab is widely available in the seafood section of most supermarkets. It comes in different forms: flaked, chunked and whole crab “legs.” A tasty addition to pasta, salads, soups and chowders, it can often be substituted for crab, shrimp or scallops. A 3-ounce portion of imitation crab contains 85 calories, 14 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 841 milligrams of sodium and only 1 gram of fat. Comparatively, a 3-ounce portion of fresh crab, cooked, has 101 calories, 20 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate, 91 milligrams of cholesterol, 324 milligrams of sodium and 1 gram of fat. If you are allergic to shellfish, be sure to check with the manufacturer to see if any shellfish flavoring was added to the product during processing.