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May 15, 2018

Thai-Style Coleslaw with Chiles, Mint, and Cilantro

This Thai-Style Coleslaw with Chiles, Mint, and Cilantro is a wonderfully light side dish. The bright flavors in this salad pair especially well with rich barbecued meats and ribs.

Thai-Style Coleslaw with Chiles, Mint, and Cilantro

The dressing for this Thai-style coleslaw is made with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, coconut milk, and a minced serrano chile. You steep the the chile in the lime and fish sauce mixture before dressing the salad, which mellows the chile yet still preserves its flavor.

This coleslaw is wonderful for summer dinners, picnics, and outdoor barbecues. I made it the same weekend that I made these short rib enchiladas and these carnitas, and the cole slaw was wonderful paired with both dishes.

Thai-Style Coleslaw with Chiles, Mint, and Cilantro being prepared

This recipe calls for fish sauce, a much maligned product due to its "aroma." I've learned to love fish sauce, which, when combined with other ingredients, adds a definite "umami" to whatever you are making. My favorite fish sauce is the Red Boat brand. There are only two ingredients, anchovies and sea salt, and it has a fairly mild flavor. You can usually find it at a well stocked Chinese or Viet grocery store.

If you are a vegetarian, or can't find fish sauce, you can simmer 1/4 ounce of dried shiitake mushrooms, 3 tablespoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce in 3 cups of water until it has reduced by half. Strain the mixture and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks (source: Cook's Illustrated, March, 2013).

Thai-Style Coleslaw with Chiles, Mint, and Cilantro with cashews

One of the things I love about this coleslaw is you can make it and dress it in advance. Just reserve the cashews until you are ready to serve this salad.

I love good salads, particularly this time of year. There are so many fresh ingredients available. I was actually able to "harvest" the mint and the chile in this salad from my backyard.

This month, the Fantastical Food Fight is all about salads. May is National Salad Month for the US, and we all are celebrating! If you are a salad lover like I am, after the recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the delicious salads.

salad, cabbage, Thai, mint
Yield: 6 servings

Thai-Style Salad with Chiles, Mint, and Cilantro


  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 5 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 pound napa cabbage (a small head), thinly sliced 
  • 6 radishes, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces sugar snap peas, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews, coarsely chopped


  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, and chili. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then whisk in the coconut milk. Add more fish sauce if needed. 
  2. In a large bowl, add the cabbage, radishes, peas, cilantro, and mint. Add the dressing and toss the salad. When ready to serve, add the cashews. 

Thai-Style Coleslaw with Chiles, Mint, and Cilantro with cashews and coconut milk

Would you like to comment?

  1. So pretty! I'm always up for other coleslaw varieties!

  2. That's a very vibrant looking coleslaw... loving the pop of green...

  3. I love Asian style dressings and have also recently been embracing the Red Boat fish sauce. Can't wait to give this salad a try!

  4. Oh how very yum! What a fresh and gorgeous summer salad! One I'd happily eat any day of the week!!!

    1. Thanks Colleen. It's so light that you pretty much can.

  5. The dressing sounds so darn good! :)

  6. This looks delish..colourful salad.


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