An Autumn of Salads – Vietnamese Coleslaw

So far for Vegplottings Salad Days posts I have written a variety of recipes which incorporate salad leaves.  This is the first though to use a leaf as a primary ingredient, in my previous posts they have been there for flavour and texture.  Here they are the bulk of the dish.  I absolutely adore Vietnamese Coleslaw.  I only make it occasionally though as the kids are less enamoured by it.  Today was one of those occasions.  I planted out a couple of Chinese Cabbages about 2 months ago and today I harvested the first of them.

Whilst I like growing Chinese Cabbages, they heart up much more quickly than their European cousins which, for the impatient gardener, is something of a blessing.  I do find they tend to attract all manner of creatures though.  Inside the one I harvested today I found a number of slugs, a couple of worms and 3 immature snails.  When I last picked one at mum and dad’s it was harbouring a couple of frogs.  Cute by slightly disconcerting.  On the outside they look fine but pull back a leaf or two and you’re looking at a lot of slug poo.


Whilst I used this cabbage (after significant amounts of leaf disposal and cleaning) for today’s salad the only photos I have are of a Vietnamese chicken coleslaw I made last year with one of my red cabbages.  This recipe works well with all cabbage varieties – the flavour will vary a bit but the result should be equally delicious.  If you wish to make a vegetarian version simply omit the chicken and the fish sauce.  You will almost certainly need to add a little extra salt to compensate.

Vietnamese Chicken Coleslaw

  • 2 breasts of cooked chicken – shredded.
  • 250g cabbage – finely sliced
  • 1 very large (or 2 medium) carrots – shredded or grated
  • a handful of peanuts – chopped
  • a handful of crispy fried shallots
  • a handful of herbs including mint* – sliced.


  • 2 tblspn lime juice
  • 1 tblspn rice wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbspn fish sauce
  • 2 tblspn palm (or brown) sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 clove of garlic – crushed
  • 1 hot chilli – finely chopped.

Mix together the dressing ingredients, ensuring the sugar dissolves.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Mix together the chicken, cabbage, carrot and herbs.  Dress.  Place onto serving plates top with peanuts and shallots.

* Mint should always be used, I occasionally add others like Thai Basil, Coriander, and Vietnamese Mint

This entry was posted in Autumn Harvesting, Brassicas, Recipes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to An Autumn of Salads – Vietnamese Coleslaw

  1. VP says:

    That looks delicious – one for me to try later in the year 🙂

    BTW I’m compiling a list of useful reference books on salad growing. I have plenty for Northern Europe and the USA/Canada – is there anything aimed at Australia/New Zealand which you find particularly useful?

    • Liz says:

      I can’t think of a book which is specifically about salad leaves. There are general gardening books that are OK – the biggest issue with Australia is the wide variety of climate we have and as a result books frequently don’t adequately address all the different regions gardening issues – I suspect this is particularly true of the tropics. A good general gardening reference book is Annette McFarlands Organic Vegetable Gardening but it is neither very salad specific not that great at distinguishing the different growing requirements in different parts of the country. I’ll have a think about it and if I think of any others I’ll let you know.

  2. Daphne says:

    Oh yum. And Chinese cabbages do harbor a bit of wildlife. I’m OK with it as long as they stick to the outside leaves and leave the center for me.

    • Liz says:

      Fortunately there was enough left of this one – just after I’d cleared away the debris. Sometimes they manage to infiltrate even the inner leaves of mine.

  3. I like the look of that coleslaw although without the fish sauce.

    • Liz says:

      It is good. Is your issue with fish – purely taste or partially ideological/ecological. If the latter to be honest I’ve never considered the substainability of the type of fish they use to make fish sauce – I should really have but I haven’t. If taste based although it does seem pretty strong when mixed with the other ingredients it doesn’t really taste fishy. No more than a thai curry does anyway. Having said that if you don’t eat fish then you may have a different taste perspective so perhaps it would. Do you eat Thai food?

      • It’s the taste really Liz. It’s the idea of putting something fishy with ingredients that don’t seem to match. I must admit though I use Worcstershire sauce and only recently learned that an ingredient was anchovies!

        I have eaten Thai curry yes and enjoyed it – maybe I need to get over the mind games.

        • Should have said I do eat fish – not seafood though and not if it has a head or fins. I couldn’t prepare a whole fish.

          • Liz says:

            I used to be vegetarian but have never been that squeemish about preparing fish or meat – I enjoy whole fish but I have to say I never look them in the eye.

        • Liz says:

          Its interesting how ingrained idea about what foods we like become isn’t it – I have to admit to never having tried an oyster but somehow I don’t really like the idea of them. Yet today we went out for lunch and my two year old grabbed one and started slurping at it. He mostly drank the sauce it was in (which I later realised was probably Mirin – Japanese rice wine based – woops) but he had a bit of a chew on the oyster and pronouced it ‘fishy’. Funny that at 2 he has at least tried something that in over 40 years I’ve never put in my mouth.

  4. mac says:

    Yum~ I love all kinds of slaw salad.
    Our climate is so hot and dry I haven’t seen slugs and snails in my garden so far, and luckily no slimy critters in my cabbages, knock on wood.

  5. becky3086 says:

    I just can’t do the mint. Don’t like it much. Have to admit that I have never had peanuts in a salad either though I think they might be nice enough.

  6. Leanne says:

    I don’t quite know how to comment now, I’m not really gardening anymore, but I love looking at your blog. I think your photos really show off your produce really well. So is it OK if I comment as a photographer looking at anothers photographs?

    • Liz says:

      Of course – I’d love the feedback. Shame your not gardening anymore though.

      • Leanne says:

        I will get back to it, but right now, it just isn’t happening. I think I have to realise I can’t do veggies, so maybe I will have a lovely garden with lots of flowers and just a few veggies.

  7. Andrea says:

    Do love a good coleslaw……….. so enjoyable when you finally get to eat one made from your own cabbages. I prefer the way you make/dress your coleslaw much tastier than using mayonaise.

    • Liz says:

      I have to say i do also like the mayo version. Especially on sausages in bread – memories of school sausage sizzle days….

  8. Norma Chang says:

    Vietnamese coleslaw is so refreshing and pairs well with so many dishes, love the versatility of using any kind of cabbage and it works.
    Know what you mean by wild life residing inside. I would freak out if I came across a frog.

  9. Diana says:

    I also found lots of things or living things residing in the cabbage chinese. Really have to wash them thoroughly. Nice salad there.

  10. Dave says:

    I can’t believe I missed this recipe earlier! I am looking for something to do with a lone red cabbage, and this sounds great. I don’t have shallots, but I can improvise on that. The dressing sounds wonderful, I can almost taste it now (it is getting close to dinner time here).

    • Liz says:

      I hope you enjoy it – I really enjoy the fact that it is both refershing and filling, well that and that I love the flavour combination.

Leave a Reply to Liz Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *