Asian Cabbage Salad

Eric and I went to a Pink Martini concert this weekend. It was awesome. I don’t think I have ever had so much fun at a concert.

One of the songs they played is called Sympathique. Here is a translation of the French chorus:

I do not want to work
I do not want lunch
I just want to forget
And then I smoke

The lyrics are straight from the poem Hôtel by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, which the band thought was in the public domain. It wasn’t, and eventually the poets’ heirs sued Pink Martini. Afterward, they asked the band for their autographs, and told them that they thought Guillaume would have really liked their song.

The song was an overnight sensation in France. It happened to be released the same week that the French government officially decreased the work week from 40 hours a week to 35.

The concert was made even better since Eric and I scored chairs in the 8th row (much closer than our anticipated lawn seats), plus a free dinner. Free stuff sure tastes sweet.

Technically, this salad could be described as coleslaw. I choose to call it a salad because the idea of coleslaw always makes me throw up a little bit in the back of my throat. But this salad is absolutely delicious. It has a light Asian flavor, and the ramen noodles and almonds give it the perfect crunch. If you are planning on having leftovers, add your crunchies to each individual serving. They get soggy pretty quick if you try to combine them too early.

Asian Cabbage Salad

Source: my mother-in-law Kris, who got it from

1 head napa cabbage
1 bunch minced green onions
1/3 cup butter
2 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles, broken into small pieces but not pulverized (throw away the spice packets)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Finely shred the head of cabbage; do not chop. (Here is a great how-to). Combine the green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the crunchies: Melt the butter in a small pot. Mix the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds into the pot with the melted butter. Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake the crunchies in the preheated oven, turning often to make sure they do not burn. When they are browned remove them from the oven. (This probably took 10-15 minutes total. After the first 5 minutes, check it every 2 minutes. It can go from browned to burned real quick. Try not to do this step and give your 18 month old a bath at the same time.)

Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let boil for 1 minute. You need this step so the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from heat and let cool. (I stuck mine in the fridge to speed this up. If it separates whisk it back together.)

Combine dressing, crunchies, and cabbage immediately before serving. Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.

This makes a big bowl of salad. It’s good for potlucks. If you serve it as a main dish with grilled chicken or something, I bet it would serve at least 4-5.


6 thoughts on “Asian Cabbage Salad

  1. Traditional mayonaisey (that’s totally a word) coleslaw gives me the heebie-jeebies too. I make something similar to this and it is fabulous with chicken. I also make a Brazillian coleslaw that is just shaved cabbage with vinegar, oil, and lemon juice with salt and pepper as seasoning. Simple but good.

    • That sounds pretty good. I used to think it was weird when my Latin friends put nothing but lemon juice on their salads, but now I like it.

  2. “The song was an overnight sensation in France. It happened to be released the same week that the French government officially decreased the work week from 40 hours a week to 35.”

    I wish the US would do that! I’m so tired, hahah. I suppose I’ll just have to take this crunchy coleslaw as a pick me up instead.

  3. Fortunately I have half a head of cabbage in the fridge, and this looks delicious. Unfortunately, I do not have ramen noodles. Fortunately I DO have those little chinese chow main noodles…would those work at all? Should I just give up? Now I totally want to make this!

    • I bet the chow mein noodles would work. It would taste a little different of course but I bet it would still be good. Let me know if you like it!!

Thanks for the comments, foodies!

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