Light and fresh Chinese cabbage salad tossed together with a spicy tamarind nam jim dressing and crunchy chilli peanuts, this is a super easy Asian slaw you need to try.
Why I Love Chinese Cabbage Salad with Tamarind Nam Jim
Fresh, easy with virtually no cooking involved, our Chinese cabbage salad recipe is the perfect accompaniment to summer barbeques and alfresco dining.
The combination of shredded raw Chinese cabbage, cucumber, carrot and loads of Asian herbs tossed together with spicy tamarind nam jim dressing creates a light and tangy Asian chopped salad.
I just love the lightness of it all. Plus I added in some aromatic toasted chilli peanuts to deliver that extra crunch and flavour.
And if you don’t have Chinese Cabbage on hand, substitute with white or even red cabbage. I believe we all should have a healthy Asian slaw recipe in our food locker and this is one worth saving.
Can You Eat Raw Chinese Cabbage?
Growing up, I generally associated Chinese cabbage with stir fries, dumplings, stews, noodle soups and of course, pickling via Korean kimchi.
I never thought you can eat raw Chinese cabbage and the last thing is to add it to a salad! When I discovered you can eat raw Chinese cabbage, it was an eye opener!
Can Chinese Cabbage Be Used in Salad?
The sweeter and milder flavour makes raw Chinese cabbage delicious in salads. I find the texture of Chinese cabbage leaves to be softer but still crisp.
It is also more porous compared to green round cabbage where the leaves are thicker and firmer. And because of this, Chinese cabbage is excellent at carrying other flavours in the recipe.
Other than using Chinese cabbage in an Asian slaw, you can try adding Chinese cabbage in a healthy chicken salad with our creamy tahini miso dressing or toss with vermicelli noodles and crunchy vegetables mixed together with our chilli soy dressing.
We loved having them with roast duck and chopped up as a slaw. You can try our Wombok, Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw and Roast Duck, Caramelised Grapefruit and Wombok Salad.
Is Chinese Cabbage Good for You?
Chinese cabbage is a versatile ingredient and definitely a healthy option to add to salads. It is rich in vitamins B6, C and K1. Plus it is very low in calories and a great source of antioxidants.
What is Nam Jim?
To add oomph to this easy Chinese cabbage salad, I created my version of Thai inspired nam jim dressing.
Nam jim or nam chim, translates to dipping sauce in Thai. The basis of the sauce contains fish sauce, garlic, sugar, lime juice and chillies. You can then add your own variations to create a perfect balance of salty, sweet, spicy and sour.
For my nam jim recipe, I added tamarind puree for extra tang and fruity flavour. And with a little extra finely chopped coriander roots adds freshness and aroma to the overall dressing.
How to Meal Prep
This salad can be easily made in advance for lunch, dinner or entertaining.
All vegetables chopped and prepped in one container. Then store roasted peanuts in an airtight container and tamarind nam jim in a mason jar.
As tamarind nam jim does contain fish sauce, I would be careful in how you transport in case of spillage. As much as we love fish sauce, it does leave a long lasting smell.
How to Make It A Meal
I would be more than happy to eat this Chinese cabbage salad as a light lunch meal. Actually, I did eat the leftovers the next day.
However, I do like to serve it at a barbecue along with grilled meats. The best match I have found for this Asian chopped salad is barbeque pork neck which is similar to Chinese style char siu.
The Chinese cabbage salad marries well with barbecued char siu as it helps cut through the fat especially with the tangy tamarind nam jim dressing. This would work perfectly with other barbeque meats too.
How to Make It Vegan and Nut Free
The only non-vegan ingredient in this Chinese cabbage salad is the fish sauce used in the dressing. You can purchase vegan fish sauce or substitute it with light soy sauce. I would add ½ teaspoon of grated ginger to punch up the flavours if you use light soy sauce.
If tamarind puree is not available, increase the lemon juice by 1-2 tablespoons and adjust according to taste.
Replace the toasted chilli peanuts with toasted pepitas for a nut free version.
If you really can’t find Chinese cabbage, you can substitute with white or red cabbage.
How to Make Chinese Cabbage Salad with Tamarind Nam Jim
How To Prepare Salad
You most likely won’t use a full Chinese cabbage in this recipe depending on the size. With leftover Chinese cabbage, you can try our Roast Duck, Caramelised Grapefruit and Wombok Salad later in the week.
Peel off 7-8 Chinese cabbage leaves and give a good wash. Thinly slice the Chinese cabbage leaves starting at the bottom with the white leaves. You want approximately 3 cups of chopped Chinese cabbage. Set aside for mixing.
Peel the cucumber and trim the ends. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then again, so you have 4 long quarters. Trim seeds off because you don’t want the salad to be too wet. Then cut the cucumber diagonally about 1-1.5cm apart.
I normally shred carrots with my julienne peeler. Whichever tool you would like to use, cut carrot into thin matchsticks or shred using a julienne peeler.
Wash spring onions, remove roots and then chop the spring onion into 5cm lengths. Then slice into long thin strips.
Cut long red chillies in half and deseed. Then slice into thin strips.
Wash coriander and mint leaves well and roughly chop. Save the coriander stems for tamarind nam jim dressing.
How to Toast Chilli Peanuts
Over medium heat, place raw peanuts in a frypan and dry toast for about 2 minutes. Keep moving the peanuts around so that the peanuts don’t burn.
Add chilli flakes, salt and pepper to the frypan and continue for another 1 minute or so or until golden brown.
Remove from the fry pan and let cool down.
How to Make Tamarind Nam Jim Dressing
Wash coriander stems well and then finely chop.
Take a few strips of sliced red chilli and finely chop. If you prefer more spice, you can use bird’s eye chilli rather than long chillies in the dressing. This will give the tamarind nam jim a real kick.
In a small bowl, mix warm water and brown sugar together until dissolved.
Add fish sauce, lemon juice and tamarind puree into the bowl and stir until combined.
Add chopped coriander stems and chilli. Mix well.
How To Assemble Chinese Cabbage Salad
In a large mixing bowl, place shredded cabbage, carrots, cucumber, half the toasted peanuts, coriander and mint leaves.
Add tamarind nam jim dressing and toss well together.
Tumble dressed Chinese cabbage salad onto a large serving platter. Scatter sliced spring onions, red chillies and remaining toasted peanuts on the top. Serve.
This is an easy Asian chopped salad that matches with many different dishes. The mild sweetness of the Chinese cabbage does not overpower and carries the tamarind nam jim dressing so well.
The freshness of colourful vegetables together with mixed Asian herbs and crunchy spicy peanuts will make this a hit with family and friends.
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Chinese Cabbage Salad with Tamarind Nam Jim
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- Peel off 7-8 Chinese cabbage leaves and give a good wash. Thinly slice the Chinese cabbage leaves to yield about 3 cups.
- Peel the cucumber and trim the ends. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then again, so you have 4 long quarters. Trim seeds off and then cut the cucumber diagonally about 1-1.5cm apart.
- Cut carrots into thin matchsticks or shred using a julienne peeler.
- Wash spring onions, remove roots and then chop the spring onion into 5cm lengths. Then slice into long thin strips.
- Cut long red chillies in half and deseed. Then slice into thin strips.
- Wash coriander and mint leaves well and roughly chop. Save the coriander stems for tamarind nam jim dressing.
- Over medium heat, place raw peanuts in a fry pan and dry toast for about 2 minutes. Add chilli flakes, salt and pepper to the fry pan and continue for another 1 minute or so or until golden brown. Remove from the fry pan and let cool down.
- Wash coriander stems well and then finely chop.
- Take a few strips of sliced red chilli and finely chop.
- In a small bowl, mix warm water and brown sugar together until dissolved.
- Add fish sauce, lemon juice and tamarind puree into the bowl and stir until combined.
- Add chopped coriander stems and chilli. Mix well.
- In a large mixing bowl, place shredded cabbage, carrots, cucumber, half the toasted peanuts, coriander and mint leaves.
- Add tamarind nam jim dressing and toss well together.
- Tumble dressed Chinese cabbage salad onto a large serving platter.
- Scatter sliced spring onions, red chillies and remaining toasted peanuts on the top.
- Replace the fish sauce with vegan fish sauce or light soy sauce if you would like a vegan version. Add ½ teaspoon of grated ginger if you use light soy sauce.
- Replace the toasted chilli peanuts with toasted pepitas for a nut free version.
- You can replace Chinese Cabbage with white or red cabbage.
- Tamarind puree can be found in most large supermarkets in the Asian section or at Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, can omit it in the dressing. Increase the lemon juice to balance the flavours.
- If you prefer more heat, use bird’s eye chillies in the tamarind nam jim dressing.
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