Shake Up Your Lunch With This Napa Cabbage & Vermicelli Salad
A recipe for a zingy salad similar to Chinese slaw, excerpted from the cookbook The Vegan Chinese Kitchen by Hannah Che
My mom says my grandpa’s napa cabbage salad was so famous that people would specifically request it whenever he was invited to a get-together or had friends over for dinner. It couldn’t be simpler: you salt napa cabbage, squeeze out the water, and toss the juicy shreds with slippery vermicelli noodles and a sesame oil vinaigrette zingy with garlic and cilantro. It’s sort of like a Chinese slaw—fresh with a snap of acidity, cleansing for the palate, and fantastic cold. Start the recipe in advance to allow the flavors to be absorbed and develop as it sits. I often prepare one big batch to have at lunch during the week— with its sweet, sharp juices, it’s great paired with a steamed or roasted sweet potato.
Napa Cabbage & Vermicelli Salad
Báicài bàn fěnsī
- ½ medium head (1 pound / 450 grams) napa cabbage
- 1 small Persian cucumber, thinly julienned
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 ounces (56 grams) mung bean vermicelli noodles, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
- ½ medium carrot, finely julienned
- 1 scallion, both white and green parts, cut into 3-inch segments and thinly julienned
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons pale rice vinegar 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon MSG
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Separate the cabbage into leaves. Lay out one leaf and slice it horizontally through the white stem portion to make it thinner. Repeat with the remaining leaves, then stack and cut them crosswise into ¹⁄₈-inch shreds. Place in a colander with the cucumber and toss with the salt.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the vermicelli and cook according to the package instructions. Rinse under cold water and drain. Snip with kitchen scissors into shorter, more manageable lengths.
Squeeze out the excess liquid from the cabbage and cucumber by pressing them between your hands. Drop each squeezed handful into a large bowl without rinsing it. Add the vermicelli noodles, carrot, scallion, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, MSG, and sesame oil and stir well. Taste and adjust the salt and other seasonings as needed. You can enjoy this immediately or chill it in the refrigerator, covered, for a few hours to let flavors meld. Stir in the cilantro just before serving for the freshest flavor.
Excerpted from The Vegan Chinese Kitchen by Hannah Che. Copyright © 2022 Hannah Che. Photographs by Hannah Che. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.