Surimi is a product made primarily from pollack, which is turned into a jello or paste like substance used as the main ingredient in imitation crab as well as other seafood items.
During the time when prices were at their high some processors lowered their product quality in an effort to keep sales moving, what appeared on the market was a "water first" imitation crab, meaning water was the highest volume ingredient. Unfortunately, many buyers do not make the distinction between grades of surimi and when buying strictly on price the sales usually fall because of poor quality.
In spite of flat sales the future of surimi has never looked better as processors and operators work towards more creative ways of preparing and presenting the product. One of the problems has been the inability of surimi to be deep fried, as it breaks apart or unravels. This will help the product emerge form a seafood salad ingredient to a center of the plate item.
The fact that surimi is pasteurized makes it a fully cooked seafood item with literally no bacteria, extending the shelf life to several months with very little safety hazards. A creative chef could build an entire seafood section on the menu using only surimi as the main ingredient