Crunchy Thai Peanut Slaw

Until very recently, I had never tried coleslaw. That statement alone will set off the alarms, alerting all of Texas that I am indeed, a West Coast transplant. Fair enough. Coleslaw is a staple to BBQ culture and people take their slaw seriously here. Yet, given both my upbringing and disdain for mayo, I’ve never gravitated towards coleslaw. That was until I went to Round Top, Texas last Spring. It was there that I tried my first plate of barbecue from Paw Paw’s Firehouse – a local joint that would be Guy Fieri approved. I tried their jalapeรฑo coleslaw and to both my surprise and delight, it tasted pretty dang good. I may not have a love affair with coleslaw the way that other Texans do, but it opened my mind to a world of possibilities that the word “slaw” offers.

Before the idea to make my own slaw ever crossed my mind though, I purchased all the ingredients to make the Tik Tok famous Baked by Melissa green goddess salad. I love the idea of a finely chopped salad and decided to give her recipe a go, though I ended up not loving it quite as much as I thought. It was definitely tasty, but the dressing wasn’t my cup of tea and I didn’t go back craving bite after bite the way that I had expected. So, rather than discard all the leftover cabbage and cucumber I had sitting around in my fridge, I decided to whip up a different salad.

To be completely candid, I threw the salad together without much direction. I knew I had cabbage and cucumber though, which are common ingredients in Asian cuisine. I also knew that I needed some sort of protein for sustenance, and blindly reached into my pantry for any sort of nut. Remarkably, I pulled out a jar of peanuts that I didn’t even know I had. In fact, I use peanuts so rarely in cooking that I actually had to check the expiration date before I chopped them up for the salad. Now I had three components towards a complete dish and just needed a dressing. I quickly realized I had everything needed for a sesame ginger vinaigrette…well, except for sesame oil. What I did have though, was actually just what this recipe needed to make it a Thai peanut slaw – peanut oil!

And there you have it! I eventually modified the recipe to include cilantro and green onion for an extra punch of flavor, and deemed this salad to be one of my favorite salads that I had made to date.

What’s in this Salad:

  1. Rice Vinegar: An essential in Asian cuisine, rice vinegar has a slightly sweet, yet mildly acidic flavor that creates the tangy base for the dressing.ย I used unseasoned rice vinegar here just out of preference though either kind should work!
  2. Coconut Aminos: The healthier, gluten-free cousin to soy sauce, I actually prefer the taste of coconut aminos because it is slightly sweeter and a tad less salty than soy sauce. You can find coconut aminos at most grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s, who makes a great one. That said, you can substitute soy sauce here if you prefer.
  3. Chili Paste: Although there is chili paste in the dressing, this is not an overtly spicy dish by any means. Instead, it creates more of a sweet and spicy flavor that is tangy rather than fiery. If you want to amplify the spice factor, I would do a full teaspoon of chili paste.
  4. Ginger: It might sound like a lot, but yes, this dressing calls for 2 full teaspoons of grated ginger. Just trust me here; it adds a bright zing to the dressing that is essential.
  5. Napa Cabbage: Sturdy, crunchy cabbage is the star of this slaw. Just as important as flavor is texture, and shredded cabbage gives this slaw a delightful crunch.
  6. Chopped Peanuts: A nice counterpart to the acid in this recipe, chopped, dry-roasted peanuts bring in a nice source of protein and fat to round out the flavors in this dish.
Crunchy Thai Peanut Slaw

Crunchy Thai Peanut Slaw

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 head Napa cabbage
  • 2 scallions (I use both the green and white parts)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 4 mini cucumbers thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts (chopped)

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste
  • pinch of salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Start by whisking together the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, peanut oil, grated ginger, honey, chili paste, garlic, and salt. Once everything is fully combined, set the dressing aside.
  2. Next, finely shred the Napa cabbage and add it to a large bowl.
  3. Then, leaving the skin on, thinly slice the cucumbers so that they are razor thin (if you want to use a mandoline here, it will ensure you get even slices). Add the sliced cucumber to the cabbage in the bowl.
  4. Thinly slice the scallions and toss them into the bowl.
  5. Give the cilantro a rough chop and add it in as well.
  6. Now, pour in the dressing and toss to coat the salad.* (see note if not serving immediately).
  7. Finally, give the peanuts a good chop and sprinkle them over the top of the salad. Now it's ready to enjoy!

Notes

*If you plan on making this recipe ahead of time, wait until you serve it to toss it in the dressing. Even though cabbage has a firm structure, the salad will not have the same delightful crunch if you dress it well before you plan on eating it.

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