It's been a while since I've posted an traditional Asian recipe. I was looking through my photos and realized that I had quite a few to post. At the moment, I'm addicted to this salad. Especially during this time of year, when every holiday dish seems to call for butter and cream, it's nice to have a meal that's light yet satisfying.
I have memories of eating this Vietnamese red cabbage salad when I was a child. It was often served during the holidays and at our Sunday family gatherings. Having not had it in years, I'd almost forgotten how good it is.
I'm not fan of the coleslaw at all and the copious amount of mayonnaise that's often involved. With a ton of herbs and little to no oil, this salad is at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Vietnamese Red Cabbage Salad Recipe
(about 4 servings)
16 medium raw shrimp
1 pound of red cabbage, sliced thin (about half of a large head)
1 large carrot, finely julienned
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped mint
2 tablespoons freshly toasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh cayenne chili, finely chopped
1 fresh bird's eye chili, finely chopped
6 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar (or plain white vinegar)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Boil the shrimp in water for about 2 minutes or until they are pink and just cooked through. Drain and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cool to the touch, peel and slice each of them lengthwise.
Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Add the salad ingredients except for the peanuts and toss to combine.
Ten minutes before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly. Let it sit for 10 - 15 minutes in the fridge. The cabbage will soften and wilt slightly during this period. Give it one final toss before serving. Garnish with the peanuts.
Tips and Variations:
The brand of fish sauce I prefer is called 'Three Crabs', which you can find at most Asian markets. Or you can use light soy sauce in place of the fish sauce and add 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil. I usually toast my peanuts in a toaster oven. Or you can toast them in a pan on medium heat until they are brown. You can omit the shrimp entirely or substitute one large boneless skinless chicken breast, poached and shredded. This salad (sans shrimp) also goes well with grilled meat or seafood. You can also use green cabbage and 1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion in place of the red cabbage and scallions. I thinly slice the cabbage and julienne the carrot using a Japanese mandoline. Adding some Thai basil to this salad would be delicious as well.