This delicious Asian cabbage salad boasts a wonderfully complex flavor profile thanks to a tasty dressing of sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce.
I love that you can make it ahead of time, refrigerate it for a few hours, and then serve it. Needless to say, the leftovers are delicious!
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 an easy one.
While very easy to make, this salad does not lack in the flavor department! It's one of my favorite salads; my entire family enjoys it.
Its flavor profile is quite different than the flavor of this homemade coleslaw. Not surprisingly, it goes exceptionally well with Asian-style main dishes.
You'll only need five simple ingredients to make this salad. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Shredded cabbage: I use a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw in this recipe to make my life easy. 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: I don't recommend using distilled white vinegar. It's too acidic.
- Light soy sauce: I use reduced-sodium soy sauce in most of my recipes. I find that traditional soy sauce is too salty. You can also use a gluten-free alternative.
- Red pepper flakes: They don't make the salad very spicy but add a nice layer of flavor. If you want the salad to be truly spicy, you can increase the amount you use according to your taste.
- Sometimes I use broccoli slaw in this recipe; it's just as good as cabbage slaw.
- You can substitute apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar for rice vinegar.
- Add shredded cooked chicken and turn this salad into a main-dish salad, similar to this Chinese chicken salad. If you go this route, increase the dressing ingredients by 50%.
- Add a handful of slivered almonds for extra crunch.
Making this Asian cabbage salad is truly easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
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.
Allowing the flavors to meld for at least 30 minutes 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.
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 using regular cabbage is fine. 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 unsuitable for cooking because of its low smoke point, but its bold flavor makes it an excellent condiment. Toasted sesame oil is another excellent option.
You can keep the leftovers 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 stir before serving it.
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Asian Cabbage Salad
- 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)
- 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.