My vibrant vegan Asian Slaw comes with an awesome crunch and a killer creamy peanut dressing. (It tastes so good you don’t even realize how ridiculously healthy it is.) Make it your signature summer salad, and then take it to work for lunch the rest of the year. Throw in some rotisserie chicken and you’ve got dinner!
Sure, you know how to make an awesome burger, but how’s your side salad game, does that need a little help? This wonderful Asian fusion recipe can go head to head with anything you put on that paper plate.
I can’t tell you how much I love a hearty salad like this, and this one covers just about anything you could ever want from a salad…color, crunch, freshness, a little bit of carb, and SO much flavor thanks to a to-die-for tangy peanut dressing.
How to make an outrageous Asian slaw dressing ~
An Asian salad lives or dies according to its dressing. These ingredients are the basis for many sauces and dressings, so feel free to mix and match, and play with the ratios. Notice there’s nothing exotic or hard to find on this list.
- Toasted sesame oil ~ this is key. If you’ve never bought it you’re missing out, the flavor is rich and nutty. It’s also Vitamin E and antioxidant rich. Branch out and keep a few different oils in your pantry.
- Rice wine vinegar, a definite must in your vinegar collection, it’s less acidic and milder than regular vinegar.
- Tamari sauce, my favorite soy sauce. It’s naturally gluten free, and has a more complex flavor than regular soy sauce. Find it in the Asian section of your supermarket.
- Creamy peanut butter
- Fresh garlic and ginger
- Brown sugar
- Red pepper flakes
You can whisk this together or, my preference, hit it with your immersion blender, which emulsifies it into a thick creamy sauce in seconds. I love my immersion blender 🙂
This fusion salad is part legit Asian, part American potluck, and the result is a delicious hybrid and a guaranteed people pleaser. I’ve included options down below for special diets and restrictions, because nobody should have to miss out on this one.
Food styling tips for Asian Slaw ~
- Whenever I made a large tossed salad, whether it’s this Asian slaw, or a mixed bean salad, a chopped salad, or even a green salad, I assemble and toss it in an oversized mixing bowl so there’s plenty of room to toss everything together and get it well mixed. Then I transfer the salad to a spotless serving bowl.
- I like to go one of two ways with the ingredients for this salad ~ either with a high color contrast, or a more controlled monochromatic scheme. If you go for intense color, the more the merrier. Instead of plain green bell peppers I choose red and yellow peppers specifically because they complete the rainbow effect. The purple cabbage is always eye popping.
- If you’d like a quieter palette, go with shades of green: the Napa cabbage, pea pods, green onions, green peppers, and cilantro will be beautiful. In this case just leave out the carrots and red cabbage. The combination of greens and beiges are lovely.
- Peanuts and sesame seeds signal the Asian theme to the eye, so I like to sprinkle extra on just before serving.
- This salad will be at its best and most vibrant the day it’s made.
Other Asian inspired salads we love~
- Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad
- Edamame Bean Salad
- Steak Pad Thai Salad
- Thai Beef Salad
- Korean Bulgogi Beef Salad
- Japanese Vegetable Salad with Miso Dressing
How to recreate your favorite store bought or restaurant dishes at home…
This wonderful salad got its start after we had a similar one from the prepared salads section of our regular supermarket. I loved it so much I went back the next day to buy it again, and it wasn’t quite as fresh, so I was determined to make it for myself (and for you guys, of course!) Here’s my workflow when I’m recreating a recipe from a store or a restaurant:
- I start by studying every bite, picking out as many of the ingredients as I can visually or by taste. You might look a little silly, but it’s worth it 😉
- If there is an ingredient list label on the container, I keep it.
- I go online and google the recipe name + store/restaurant name and sometimes I’ll get lucky. If you do locate an ingredient list keep in mind that the ingredients will be listed in order of amount used, starting with the largest, and this helps when trying to recreate it. You might get super lucky and find the actual recipe.
- Remember you can always call the establishment and try to get a person to give you the ingredient list. They’re not required to do so by law, but you can try.
- I’ll check out other similar recipes online to see if any of them come close to the one I love.
- Test test test is the final step. This one was a winner after the first try! I often add my own touches, for instance I love water chestnuts, so I added them even though they weren’t in my inspiration salad.
- When you’re working on a recipe, be sure to jot down all the details so you can recreate it later. It helps to keep a small notebook and take notes.
- 8 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 8 Tbsp toasted sesame oil look for it with the regular oils, or in the Asian food section
- 3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 3 Tbsp Tamari soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger
- 3 ounces or 85 grams, dried chow mein noodles, cooked just until tender and rinse them well in cold water (it will be about 2 cups cooked)
- 3 loosely packed cups or 172 grams, shredded red cabbage (shred on 1/8 inch setting of mandoline, or with a very sharp knife)
- 3 loosely packed cups or 157 grams, Napa or Savoy cabbage
- 1 medium carrot or 80 grams, shredded
- 1 cup or 73 grams, snowpeas sliced lengthwise
- 1 cup or 100 grams, red and yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup or 75 grams, sliced water chestnuts
- 1 bunch of 7-8 scallions or 44 grams, thinly sliced, white and green parts
- 1/2 cup or 22 grams, minced cilantro
- 1/2 cup or 70 grams, peanuts
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds optional
- Blend together the dressing ingredients. I like to use an immersion blender because the dressing will emulsify into a creamy sauce. Taste to adjust any of the ingredients to your own preference. You can make the dressing a day or two ahead if you like.
- Toss the cooked noodles with a little bit of the dressing to keep them from sticking together, and then put them into a large mixing bowl along with the rest of the salad ingredients. Toss everything together gently with enough dressing to coat well, you don't have to use all of it if your salad is smaller.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and more peanuts.
- Refrigerate until serving. I recommend serving the same day.
notes and variations
Make this Asian Slaw your own ~
- We love to add shredded rotisserie chicken to make it a meal. Grilled shrimp or tofu would be great choices too.
- If you have nut allergies leave them out and use sunflower seed kernels. Try Sunbutter in the dressing.
- For gluten free diets, try Japanese soba noodles, which are made from naturally gluten free buckwheat (buckwheat is a seed, not a grain.)
- If you dislike cilantro try basil or maybe chives instead. Parsley will be a bit bland.
- Add crispy wonton strips, either store bought or homemade (I’ll show you how in my How to Make the Best Chinese Chicken Salad post.) Or those crunchy kitschy canned chow mein noodles.
- Add canned mandarin slices.
- Include edamame beans, they usually come frozen, so just thaw and add.
- Add fresh jalapeño for heat.