Thai Style Crunchy Cabbage, Sprouts & Peanut Salad (GF, V)
The old year is gone and it’s once again the beginning of another year. The past year was, as usual, a mix of mostly good and some not-so-good bits, and I’m hopeful that this year shall be better on the whole than the last one.
The festive season and the end-of-the-year holidays are done, and it looks like the cooler weather that should have been here by late November has finally arrived a whole lot later than it should have. Of course, in my part of the world cooler weather means early mornings that are about 19C (approx. 65F)!
All the festivities are at an end, Christmas decorations are coming down everywhere, our little tree is going back into storage, our daughter is back at college and things are getting back to regular routine. So we’re back to eating our usual healthier and more balanced meals and I’m once again looking for newer ways to use the season’s produce salads and soups of the kind we like.
Indian winter temperatures can range from the 20s (approx. 70F) in the plains in the South to icy cold and snow in the extreme North but by and large this is the season when some of the best and affordable seasonal fruit and vegetable produce arrives at local markets. A lot of our fruit and vegetables are available the year around but even these take on a new life and colour in the cooler months.
This morning I realized I was due to make a trip to the market to stock up on fruit and vegetables for the week. This meant that I didn’t have much of salad worthy stuff in the fridge. What I did have was a beautiful head of green cabbage, a couple of bell peppers, some tomatoes and a small box of fresh sprouts.
I know cabbage is not everyone’s favourite vegetable and I remember blogging this Payasam (South Indian Milk Pudding) made with cabbage (which is not traditional) and a friend brought up “Smelly cat, Smelly Cat, What are they feeding you? Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, It's not your fault!” from the television series “Friends”. Obviously she disliked cabbage.
While it’s true that cabbage can have a rather distinctive flavour, I think it becomes truly objectionable only if it’s not really fresh. How good the cabbage will taste will depend on the variety (please look for the greenish ones rather than the yellowish white ones), how fresh it is (the fresher, the better) and how you cook it.
I personally like cabbage cooked South Indian style, and eating it raw is not really something I would choose to do, unless it was in a Thai style peanut flavoured salad that's a lovely balance of salty, a hint of sweet, tangy and spicy. Now that is something I could make a meal of.
As are most salads, the one below is not a recipe set in stone and can be modified to suit individual taste. You can add chopped spring onions/ scallions, shredded carrot and maybe cucumber for more variety, maybe some cherry tomatoes, leave out the sprouts if you don’t like them, use vinegar instead or with lime juice, or add some ginger (instead of the chilli flakes). The possibilities are endless.
One thing I would advise is to cut or shred the cabbage into very thin (as thin as you can manage) and approximately inch and half long strips. This makes for easy eating and you won’t have to chew on big bites of raw cabbage which can be very discouraging. I also like my food lightly salted so I do not add extra salt since I use salted roasted peanuts, and both the peanut butter and the soy sauce contain salt. You could also use unsalted peanuts which work just as well.
For the Dressing:
For the Salad:
- Blend together the lime juice, oil, peanut butter garlic, soy sauce and jaggery till smooth. The dressing will be a little thick but should be of pouring consistency. If it is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water, as necessary, and blend again. Now add the chopped coriander and blend again so you have specks of green in a brown dressing. Mix in the chilli flakes.
- Combine cabbage, bell pepper, and sprout in a large salad bowl s. Add the dressing and salt, if necessary, and toss well. Sprinkle the roasted peanuts and finish with the chopped coriander. Serve immediately.
- The salad is best made fresh but the salad and dressing can be made a day ahead, refrigerated and then tossed together just before serving.