Arriving to our new house after a 10 hour drive back from Queensland, I was in desperate need of something other than a side-road cafe’s semi-warm pies or McDonald’s scrambled eggs and burgers.
I was craving vegetables, herbs and a little of South East Asian zing. The best thing about it is that it can be served both as a side and as a main, and preparation only requires a knife, a chopping surface and a bowl – perfect!
Those not too convinced about salads as such can be persuaded toward it with a little seared, sliced steak , creating a version of what is more commonly known as a Thai beef salad. Barbecue chicken works well too, and it’s also a great side dish to lightly fried or steamed fish.
Serves 4 as a main // halve ingredients for a side
Vietnamese cabbage and herb salad
It may look like a lot of ingredients but the salad is quite easy to make so don’t be discouraged. For a meaty version, add some steak of shredded barbecue chicken.
For the salad:
- 1/4 small white cabbage, shredded finely
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves, torn
- 1 capsicum, sliced finely
- 8 snow pea pods, sliced on the diagonal
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1/2 cup coriander leaves
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup sesame or peanut oil
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- (crushed unsalted or caramel coated peanuts)
For pickled carrots and onion:
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1/2 Spanish onion, julienned
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- squeeze of lemon juice
To prepare the pickled vegetables: place julienned carrot and onion in a bowl with sugar and salt, mix well and refrigerate for 20 minutes. After that time add a squeeze of lemon juice and stand until ready to use.
To prepare the salad: heat a little of the oil in a pan or on a flat barbecue plate until smoking hot. Add capsicum and allow it to soften and char slightly, then add the sliced peas and stir through.
Combine all vegetables in a large bowl, add pickles and mix around gently. Reserve the pickling juices. In a cup mix fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce, peanut oil and pickling juices to make the dressing. Pour over salad and mix well to cover. (You can top the salad with crushed peanuts or caramel cashews for added texture and flavour).
For a meaty version: cook the steak to your liking and slice thinly. Mix in with the salad. Alternatively, shred some barbecue chicken and do the same.