Delicious Asian cabbage salad boasts a wonderfully complex flavor profile thanks to a tasty dressing of sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce.
I got the recipe for this wonderful salad from my mother in law. She and my late father in law used to love Asian food. Many of their recipes were quite elaborate, but this is actually an easy one.
While very easy to make, this salad does not lack in the flavor department! It's one of my favorite salads, and my entire family enjoys it. Not surprisingly, it goes especially well with Asian-style main dishes.
You'll only need five simple ingredients to make this flavorful Asian cabbage salad. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Shredded cabbage: To make my life easy, I use a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw in this recipe. But it's not difficult to shred cabbage with a sharp knife! So any way you make it, this is a very easy salad to prepare.
Sesame oil: I like to use toasted sesame oil. It's so flavorful! But any sesame oil will be great in this salad.
Rice vinegar: Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar work too. I don't recommend using distilled white vinegar, though. It's too acidic and it won't taste good in this salad.
Light soy sauce: I use reduced-sodium soy sauce in most of my recipes. I find that traditional soy sauce is too salty. Obviously, you can also use a gluten-free alternative.
Red pepper flakes: They don't make the salad very spicy, but they do add a nice layer of flavor.
How to make Asian cabbage salad? It's easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to quickly mix the dressing ingredients: Sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.
Nest, you place shredded cabbage in a serving bowl. Add the tasty dressing and mix well.
Let the salad rest for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Allowing the flavors to meld is important. It does make a difference. You can let the salad rest at room temperature for up to an hour. If you plan to let it rest for longer, it's best to cover it and keep it in the fridge.
Suggested main dishes
This tasty salad makes a wonderful side dish to any Asian-style main dish. I often serve it with Asian meatballs or with soy sauce chicken. But it's actually versatile enough that I sometimes serve it with "regular" main dishes such as baked chicken breast or crispy baked chicken thighs.
Frequently asked questions
I don't recommend it. White vinegar is harsh and acidic, while rice vinegar is very mild - almost sweet. They have a completely different flavor profile. If you're out of rice vinegar, try using white wine vinegar.
You can if you'd like to, but it's fine to use regular cabbage. It's easiest to use a pre-shredded coleslaw mix and it's also prettier, thanks to the addition of purple cabbage and carrots.
I like to use dark unrefined sesame oil. It's not suitable for cooking, but its bold flavor makes it excellent as a condiment.
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. In fact, this salad tastes even better the next day, and it keeps tasting great right up to the last day you keep it. Just remember to give it another good stir before serving it.
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Asian Cabbage Salad with Sesame Oil Dressing
- 12 oz shredded cabbage (5 cups; I use a bag of coleslaw mix)
- ¼ cup scallions green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or use a gluten-free alternative and add salt as needed)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl.
- Add the scallions.
- Add the sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.
- Mix well with a large spoon.
- Let the flavors meld for 30 minutes.
- Mix again before serving.