A 10-minute recipe with a few simple ingredients, this crunchy noodle salad is unbelievably popular. The light, fresh shredded napa cabbage, crispy fried noodles, and lemon soy dressing is the perfect salad to feed a crowd.
Why You’ll Love Crunchy Noodle Salad
Do you ever look on the back of packets for recipes? No? Give it a go. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Like this crunchy noodle salad recipe, I have adapted from the popular Chang’s Noodle Salad recipe on the back of their packets. Who knew a packet of crispy fried noodles would have a delicious salad recipe on the back?!
This super easy salad is so well-loved amongst my Australian friends that it has become a powerhouse at Aussie parties, BBQs and even Christmas lunch!
Well, I can see why!
The combination of ingredients may seem odd at the start but somehow raw shredded wombok with fried noodles delivers a practical side dish that is fresh, crunchy, savoury, and tangy all in one bite.
It’s quick to prepare in 10 minutes. Plus with a handful of ingredients and a simple salad dressing, this recipe is great on the hip pocket, especially if you are making a salad to feed a crowd.
You can also easily build your own version of this Asian noodle salad recipe with whatever you have in the pantry.
Which Type of Fried Noodles To Use In Salad?
As this recipe is adapted from Chang’s noodles salad, I obviously used their version. They have thin and thick, crispy fried noodles in their range, either one is fine.
Alternatively, you can also use plain dried instant ramen noodles. Break them into chunks and obviously hold onto the seasoning. You will be surprised how good crunchy bits of ramen noodles are as a salad topper!
And if you wish to try to make your own crispy fried noodles, try our Wombok and Apple Salad recipe as we show you how to make your own crispy fried noodles from egg noodles. You could also try deep fried wonton skins like our Yee Sang salad recipe.
Can You Eat Napa Cabbage Raw?
The other main ingredient in this salad recipe is napa cabbage. Also known as Chinese cabbage, wombok, won bok, bai cai (白菜), siu choy (紹菜) and wong ngaa bak (黃芽白)… seriously the list is long for one simple vegetable!
Most people don’t realise you can eat raw napa cabbage.
I find napa cabbage to be sweeter and milder in taste when eaten raw. The texture of raw napa cabbage is lighter and more refreshing than regular cabbage. The leaves are not as firm, possibly due to the higher water content in napa cabbage.
Napa cabbage is fantastic in Asian chopped salads because it can absorb the umami salad dressing flavours so well.
Flavour/Texture: The first words that come to mind are refreshing and crunchy. The shredded napa cabbage is so light and fresh that it perfectly matches the crunchy fried noodles.
The main flavouring comes from the simple soy dressing. I used lemon juice as my acidic base, and it was deliciously tangy!
Ease: I don’t think I need to repeat. This is a super EASY Asian salad recipe to make.
Time: 10 minutes is really all you need for this noodle salad recipe.
These are the ingredients you need in crunchy noodle salad:
Napa Cabbage/Wombok: If you are feeding more people, buy a larger napa cabbage otherwise a medium sized one will do. Choose one that is heavy to hold and has crisp white leaves with no blemishes.
Spring onions: I love adding herbs and aromates to Asian salads. Spring onions (scallions/green onions) will add a pop of colour and a little heat.
Peanuts/Sesame seeds: Both ingredients add texture and subtle nutty aromas to the salad.
Soy sauce: A good quality light soy sauce is a staple in our pantry. Soy sauce forms the savoury base of the salad dressing.
Lemon juice: The citrus flavours of lemon juice match well with the soy dressing and gives a delicious tang.
Sesame oil: To enhance the salad’s nutty aromas, I love adding a dash of sesame oil to uplight the flavours.
Variations and Substitutions
Fried crispy noodles alternatives: You can substitute Chang’s crispy fried noodles with dried instant ramen noodles. No need to cook the instant ramen noodles. Just crush it up in the packaging and discard the seasoning.
Cabbage variation: If you don’t have napa cabbage, you can substitute it with regular white cabbage. I would finely shred the white cabbage for a lighter texture and to absorb the dressing well.
To save time, you could swap the shredding cabbage for a ready-made coleslaw mix.
Gluten free option: Switch the crispy fried noodles with a gluten free version and use tamari instead of soy sauce for a gluten free salad.
Nut variations: The original recipe calls for silvered almonds but I used crushed peanuts because that is what I had in my pantry at the time. You can also easily substitute with pine nuts as well.
If you have any nut allergies, you can omit the peanuts and add extra sesame seeds.
Additional toppings: This recipe is a great base for you to use leftover vegetables in the fridge. Try shredded carrot, red cabbage, cilantro, shallot, crispy onion or leftover chicken.
Salad dressing variations: Chang’s dressing recipe uses white vinegar, white sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and olive oil. I stripped my version back and only used soy, lemon, olive oil and sesame oil. I prefer my salad dressings to be quite tangy, so I didn’t bother with sugar.
For a spicier version, try our chilli soy dressing to add extra oomph.
Step by step instructions for how to make crunchy noodle salad recipe:
How to Make The Salad
Wash and thinly slice napa cabbage leaves.
Wash spring onions, remove roots and chop into small rounds.
How To Make Lemon Soy Dressing
Add soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and sesame oil in a mason jar.
Shake well and taste.
At this point, you can add more soy sauce or a little bit of sugar depending on how tangy you like it.
How To Assemble The Salad
In a large mixing bowl, toss cabbage, spring onions, peanuts, sesame seeds and dressing together.
Add crunchy fried noodles and extra sesame seeds just before serving.
How to Make This Salad Perfectly (Expert Tips)
Hold the dressing and noodles: If preparing this salad ahead of time, only dress the salad and add noodles when ready to serve to avoid a soggy salad.
Fresh napa cabbage: For a raw salad, it is important to have quality, fresh ingredients. Considering napa cabbage is the only vegetable in the salad, please buy the freshest possible.
Great Mains for This Salad
What to serve with crunchy noodle salad? Try these delicious main dish recipes:
Serve these delicious Asian mains alongside some rice, or just have it with the crunchy noodle salad. This deep-fried, sweet and sour sesame chicken is simply to die for and a favourite for the whole family.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, this recipe is not gluten free as I use crispy fried noodles and soy sauce, which both have wheat. You will need to use gluten free noodles and soy sauce.
Yes, you can prepare all the ingredients beforehand but only dress the salad when ready to serve. Napa cabbage absorbs liquid quickly and of course you don’t want soggy fried noodles – they’re supposed to be crispy!
I generally don’t keep leftovers for this salad as the crispy noodles become soggy. This salad is best to be consumed on the day.
Napa cabbage stores well in the fridge and is one vegetable I often buy and use over a longer period. It is great in noodle soups, stews, hot pots, stir fries, dumplings and of course salads like our roast duck and wombok salad.
When you see the ingredients list, it may not seem inspiring, but I can tell you honestly this crunchy noodle salad with cabbage is super delicious.
I make this recipe often during midweek dinners, and my kids genuinely fill their bowls up with it. Super easy with loads of texture and fresh flavours, try this crunchy noodle salad at your next gathering.
More Asian Salad Recipes
Crunchy Noodle Salad with Cabbage
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- Wash and thinly slice napa cabbage
- Wash scallions, remove roots and chop into small rounds
- Add soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and sesame oil in a mason jar.
- Shake well to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss cabbage, spring onions, peanuts, sesame seeds and dressing together.
- Add crunchy fried noodles and extra sesame seeds just before serving.
- You can substitute crunchy fried noodles with dried instant ramen noodles or make your own. No need to cook the instant ramen noodles. Just crush it up in the packaging and discard the seasoning.
- If you don’t have napa cabbage, you can substitute it with regular white cabbage. I would finely shred the white cabbage for a lighter texture and to absorb the dressing well.
- To save time, swap the shredding cabbage for ready-made coleslaw mix.
- Switch the crispy fried noodles with a gluten free version and use tamari instead of soy sauce for a gluten free salad.
- You can substitute peanuts with almonds or pine nuts. If you have any nut allergies, you can omit the peanuts and add extra sesame seeds.
- This recipe is a great base for using leftover vegetables in the fridge. Try shredded carrot, red cabbage, cilantro, shallot, crispy onion or leftover chicken. You can even add red chilli for a spicy version!
- Like Chang’s original dressing recipe, you can switch lemon juice with white vinegar and balance it with sugar.
- Only dress the salad and add noodles when ready to serve to avoid a soggy salad.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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