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The Hand Off: Asian Slaw

2010 August 12

by Brianna Bain

Sarah’s Stuffed cabbage set me off on a exalting rant ending in my proclamation to hopefully allow cabbage’s greatness to  rise up  and shift your assumptions around this under appreciated leafy herbaceous vegetable.  As a sort of disclaimer to my lofty goal, today’s recipe is only one way of appreciating cabbage and may not be THE conduit for establishing a new love of cabbage for you.  I do believe  this recipe does win points in the slaw category though, especially for those who loathe mayonnaise. This slaw is something that I have made many times and have altered in every iteration. Burned into my memory, this is actually the first time this recipe has materialized in document form for me.

As mentioned in Tuesday’s post I sourced all of the produce for this slaw from a combination of a local San Diego Farmers Market and my weekly CSA delivery. In true RecipeRealy form, I attempt to source all of my food items organically, locally or as sustainably as possible which seems to be more of a challenge when reaching for condiments. This recipe calls for sugar and soy sauce, which both carry a potentially heavy footprint in the socially and environmentally  friendly departments. So what is the best choice when a recipe calls for such items? I am always  balancing my choices between local, organic and sustainably farmed or sourced but there are some items that have very complicated identities behind their eco-image labels.  For this weeks recipe I used organic brown sugar and  traditional soy sauce form Trader Joe’s.  I do not use a lot of sugar or soy sauce in my cooking but I am always looking for a more local and organic sources (suggestions welcome) for when I do need them. There are other  options like organic Tamari (a gluten free option) over the traditional soy sauce and  in place of conventional white or brown sugar you can use more earth friendly organic fruit juices, dates, honey, maple syrup or Stevia.  Having options /substitutions for ingredients that a recipe calls for increases the likelihood that you will be able to find it organically, locally, or sustainably sourced. Giving you the freedom to decide what  is most important to you while still getting the flavor you want.  Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Learn more about the environmental impact of sugar and soy

Asian Slaw 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1/2 head thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1/2 head shredded green or Napa cabbage
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 7 small to medium carrots, julienned or grated
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if preferred)
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil (optional: use in place of 1 tablespoon safflower or grapeseed oil)
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the, red cabbage, green cabbage, red bell peppers, carrots, green onions, and cilantro.
  2. In a food processor mix together rice vinegar, veggie oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic.
  3. Toss with the peanut butter mixture just before serving. Option: Serve topped with grilled chicken.


One of my favorite parts of this salad is the crunch but if you let it sit with dressing for more that 2 hours it will loose some of its appeal, flavors can over-amalgamate and breakdown, often the onion can take over in flavor. It is best to keep the dressing separate from the veggies until just before serving for the best flavor and crunch!  This slaw can be tweaked by adding more or less green onion, turn up the heat with a spicy red pepper or add grilled or baked chicken, tofu or tempeh. Some may also like to add wontons or chopped almonds or peanuts to the top. I have served this slaw as a bed to veggie spring-rolls, and regularly bring it to family BBQ’s  as an alternative to leafy green salad or potato salad. However you choose to serve this slaw I hope you enjoy this peanutty, sweet, crunchy Asian Slaw- a perfect addition to any summertime feast!