Napa Cabbage Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing and Crispy Glass Noodles

napa cabbage salad with peanut dressing recipe
In college, a friend introduced me to a salad made of fresh napa cabbage, sliced thin, dressed in a tangy sesame-ginger dressing, and topped with toasted almond slices and bits of instant ramen noodles, right out of the package. This salad, a beautiful symphony of crunch and tang, was a hit among our group. Should you be interested in the recipe, I’m sure, it can be found online very easily due to the popularity.

This no-recipe version of mine is very similar to that famous salad. The crunchy noodles, however, are not from a package. Well, sort of. When I made this salad the other day, I didn’t have any ramen on hand, so I broke up some uncooked glass noodles (also known as cellophane noodles or วุ้นเส้น) and shallow-fried them. Glass noodles take no more than two seconds — really — to crisp up when the oil is at the right temperature. You drop a few pieces in, see they puff up right before your eyes, and scoop them up from the oil right away to a paper towel-lined plate.

crispy noodles with peanut sauce recipe
Then I sliced up the light green leafy part of a napa cabbage. About two cups per serving sounds about right. I washed the cabbage and spun it bone dry in a salad spinner. Then since I had some fresh radishes in the crisper, I sliced them up and threw them in. Some black sesame seeds also went in for extra flavor and color contrast.

To keep this vegetarian, you can stop here. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, so I shredded up the breast meat and added it to the salad to make a meal out of it.

napa cabbage recipe
Lastly, the pièce de résistance: my mom’s Thai peanut sauce was slightly thinned out with a bit of cider vinegar and drizzled on top.

This peanut sauce is so easy to make and versatile. I use it as a dipping sauce, stir-fry sauce, and salad dressing. If you’re a Thai peanut sauce fan, I encourage you to make a jar and keep it in the freezer. The sauce freezes beautifully. Just spoon it into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once it’s frozen, pop out the peanut sauce cubes and store them in a freezer bag. Whenever you want to use it, just take out as many cubes as you need and thaw them in the microwave. Easy.

napa salad recipe

13 Responses to Napa Cabbage Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing and Crispy Glass Noodles

  1. ♥peachkins♥ January 6, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    looks fantastic..

  2. LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! January 6, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    my post coming soon! i’m so loving beet n’ squash you and it is really making me enjoy vegetable I don’t normally have around =)

  3. 5 Star Foodie January 6, 2010 at 3:28 am #

    Such a lovely salad and sounds great the peanut dressing! I made a few things with napa cabbage over the winter break, should be posting one this week to participate.

  4. Eat My Tortes January 6, 2010 at 4:47 am #

    Looks lovely. Nice and light 🙂

  5. Quasi Serendipita January 6, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Ooh, another use for that great peanut sauce! Goody 🙂 (Can I submit my entry in Indonesian??)

  6. Juliana January 6, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    Happy New Year Leela! Oh! This salad looks delicious…love the Asian touch 🙂

  7. Leela January 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    QS – Of course! Would love to see a blog post in Indonesian!

  8. pigpigscorner January 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    oo they puff up so nicely! I have to try that soon. Great idea serving with peanut sauce!

  9. OysterCulture January 7, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    Sounds amazing and refreshing, I love the peanut sauce napa cabbage combo. Best of luck in the contest

  10. Arwen from Hoglet K January 7, 2010 at 2:16 am #

    That looks wonderfully crunchy, and I love the versatility of your peanut sauce.

  11. Melody Fury January 8, 2010 at 3:38 am #

    Have I told you today how much I love you? <-------------- This -----------------> much <3

  12. Cathy @ ShowFoodChef January 10, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    I could almost feel the crunch, that salad looks so fresh and tasty. The peanut sauce sounds delicious.

  13. Anonymous March 14, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    Hi Leela,

    The opposite version works great too! Used a red cabbage that was a bit of a lost soul in my fridge, cilantro, white sesame seeds and fried rice noodles (thanks for the new party trick). Delicious sauce and salad. Thank You for sharing, Lenka