Asian slaw is your favourite coleslaw but loaded with Asian style ingredients and flavours. With shredded cabbage and carrot like a regular coleslaw, the flavour is dialled up with fresh herbs and a savoury and tangy dressing. And don’t forget those crunchy toasted cashews.
- Tender but crisp vegetables and fresh herbs for a vibrant flavour.
- A delicious, healthy summery side dish.
- An umami rich dressing.
- Quick and easy to make.
- Customisable with what you love or what you have on hand.
- Perfect for BBQ’s, potlucks and make ahead lunches.
Just like my apple coleslaw, this Asian cabbage salad uses simple, everyday ingredients. It’s affordable, fresh, crunchy and nutritious. The salad can be made up in advance and dressed at the last moment for a gorgeously vibrant and crunchy salad. It goes great alongside this furikake salmon too.
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Ingredients you’ll need
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Cabbage: Like most coleslaw recipes, the main ingredient in this Asian style coleslaw is cabbage. I use a combination of Chinese cabbage (also known as Napa cabbage) and purple cabbage but any will work. If you can only get regular green cabbage or savoy cabbage, they’ll both work as well. For that matter you can swap some of it for kale, if you enjoy that.
- Carrot: Another often used coleslaw ingredient is carrot and here it adds crunch and sweetness.
- Bean sprouts: Used in many an Asian dish, fresh bean sprouts are super crisp from their high water content and delicious eaten raw, aka perfect for this coleslaw.
- Spring onions: Also known as scallions or green onions, spring onions are a long thin onion, white at the base with green tops. They’re used often in Asian cooking, raw or cooked and they add just the right amount of bite and crunch to this Asian slaw.
- Herbs: In south-east Asia especially, fresh herbs are used in large quantities in salads. Not just for garnishing they’re intense flavours become a big part of the dish. In this coleslaw recipe, I use fresh mint and fresh coriander (cilantro). Those alone make it more of a Thai or Vietnamese inspired slaw.
- The Asian slaw dressing: The dressing is rich and loaded with umami. Unlike the creamy dressings often used in a Western style coleslaw, this one is made from soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar and sesame oil. You could also use my Japanese sesame sauce in it’s place, which is also amazing on coleslaw.
🌶️Feel free to add a little spice from sriracha, chilli sauce or other hot sauce if you like it.
How to make Asian Slaw (step-by-step)
You’ll love how easy this Asian slaw is to make. By hand, you can have it all chopped and assembled in 15-20 minutes. It’s even quicker if you have a shredding attachment for your food processor.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
Make the Asian cabbage salad
- Toast the cashews: Place the cashews on a baking tray and roast at 180C / 350F for around 10 minutes until turning golden.
- Chop, chop, chop: Start by finely slicing your cabbage and placing that into a very large bowl. Peel and julienne or grate the carrot. I love my julienne peeler for this. Finely slice up the spring onions. Tear the leaves from the herbs and give them a very rough chop – you still want some nice big pieces of the fresh herbs.
- Combine: Add the carrot, bean sprouts, spring onions and herbs to the bowl and give it a light toss.
Make the Asian slaw dressing
- Grab a mason jar or old jam jar and just pour all your Asian salad dressing ingredients inside. Screw the lid on tight and give a good shake.
- Add it to the salad and toss it all together. Scatter over the cashews and it’s ready to serve.
IMPORTANT: The Asian slaw is best dressed right before serving as the vegetables will become softer the longer they sit in the dressing.
Tips and tricks
- Pre-shredded cabbage: You can save time by using a pre-shredded coleslaw mix.
- Using the food processor: A food processor with its various attachments will save you time too. Use the slicing attachment for the cabbage and the shredding attachment for the carrot.
- For a crunchy Asian salad serve it immediately after dressing. The dressing will gradually wilt the vegetables so, unless you like a soft coleslaw, don’t dress it until you’re ready to serve. Of course, if you like it soft, dress it and let it sit for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Other vegetables: So many veggies are perfect in a coleslaw recipe and for this Asian coleslaw in particular I’d suggest things like sliced snow peas, capsicum (bell peppers), radishes or daikon, celery and even cucumber (leaving out the seeds).
- Proteins: Try tossing your Asian salad with some cooked and shredded meats like chicken or pork. You can also cook up some tofu and toss that through.
- Coconut: Add some freshly shredded coconut – divine!
- Green mango: Green mango is used a lot in those south east Asian cuisines too and is lovely julienned and tossed through this salad.
- Noodles: Make it a more substantial side by adding some cooked noodles. Any will work but vermicelli is an absolute classic in an Asian salad.
The terms slaw and coleslaw are used interchangeably and refer to the same dish.
Asian slaw is similar to a regular coleslaw, with a mixture of shredded vegetables, mixed with some extra Asian veggies and herbs, and is then dressed with a soy based dressing.
No. Asian coleslaw is best served fresh and does not freeze well.
Yield and storage
This recipe makes enough for 6-8 side serves.
If you’re making the Asian coleslaw in advance, unless you like soft coleslaw, don’t dress it until the moment you serve. The fresh slaw mix, without the dressing, can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you’re meal prepping for lunches, take a little of the dressing in a small container or jar, separately so that you can dress it when you’re ready to eat.
Leftovers can be stored for 2-3 days but, if dressed, it will soften substantially over that time. So that you don’t have a lot of dressed leftovers that get too soggy and unpleasant to eat, you could just serve up half the salad at a time and only dress the portion you are serving. Mixing up the rest, if you need it, will take just a minute.
Did you try this Asian coleslaw recipe?
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ASIAN SLAW SALAD
- 3 cups shredded red cabbage
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage (or Chinese / napa cabbage)
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 3 spring onions (green onions / scallions), finely sliced on the diagonal
- ¾ cup fresh mint leaves
- ¾ cup fresh coriander leaves (fresh cilantro), roughly chopped
- ¾ cup roasted cashews (or peanuts), roughly chopped
ASIAN SLAW DRESSING
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (notes 1)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (notes 1)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (notes 1)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (notes 1)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Toast the cashews: Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F. Place the cashews onto a baking tray and roast for 10-15 minutes, shaking at the halfway point until golden. Set aside to cool.
- In a very large bowl, combine all the vegetables and herbs – the shredded cabbages, julienned carrot, bean sprouts, sliced spring onions and roughly chopped mint and coriander leaves.
- The undressed salad ingredients can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- In a mason jar or jam jar, combine the dressing ingredients – rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and sesame oil. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well.
- The slaw is best dressed right before serving for a crunchy salad. Once dressed it will begin to soften becoming very wilted within 24 hours.
- Once dressed, the salad is best eaten within 2 days. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- If you have a food processor with slicing and shredding attachments, it will make the chopping even quicker. Slicing attachment for cabbage and shredded attachment for carrot.
- The brown sugar in the dressing can be swapped for agave or maple syrup.
- For gluten-free option, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Feel free to add 2 teaspoons of peanut butter to the dressing for a peanut flavoured dressing.
- Other add-ins: You can turn this salad into a full meal by adding cooked noodles like vermicelli or ramen noodles, cooked and shredded chicken or pork, or some tofu.
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