Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Fish Sauce

Nick Bognar’s salad of fresh shredded cabbage is a riot of flavors and textures. The tangy, spicy dressing soaks into each bite, which is punctuated with pops of sweet crunch from the quick-candied peanuts and bursts of verdant flavor from fistfuls of herbs.

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Fish Sauce Recipe
Photo: Cedric Angeles
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins



  • 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water


  • 1/3 cup palm sugar

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (such as Viet Huong Three Crabs Brand)

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate (such as Tamicon)

  • 1 fresh red Thai chile, thinly sliced (about 3/4 teaspoon)

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground dried Thai chile (such as Burma Spice Ground Thai Chili)


  • Grapeseed oil, for frying

  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 2 cups)

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch


  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage

  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


Make the candied peanuts

  1. Combine peanuts, granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring often, until peanuts are lightly toasted and golden and syrup is bubbly, very thick, and almost completely evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Immediately spread peanut mixture in an even layer on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break apart to separate peanuts.

Make the dressing

  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, just until sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make the fried onions

  1. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven over medium to 300°F. Season onion slices with salt; toss with cornstarch, shaking off excess. Fry onions in hot oil in 2 batches, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with salt to taste. Let cool at least 5 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Assemble the salad

  1. Toss together green cabbage, red cabbage, basil, mint, cilantro, candied peanuts, and half of the fried onions in a large bowl. Add dressing, and toss to coat. Top with remaining fried onions; garnish with additional herbs. Serve with lime wedges.

Make Ahead

Dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Find palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, and ground dried Thai chile at your local Asian market or online.

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