When I came across the many variations of coleslaws in the food section of NPR’s website the other day, the “Salade Cambodgienne” captured my attention. The thought of fresh crunchy cabbage in a sweet-sour sauce seemed so satisfying and easy to prepare for our burning hot Texas summer days. This Southeast Asian variation offered a variety of veggies, the nutty texture of peanuts, some heat, and a way to use up my garden carrots and basil. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact it was an overwhelming hit with just a couple additions and modifications.
The Tuk Trey dressing (Tuk Trey means fish juice in Cambodia) contained no fish sauce in this recipe, which was fine by me, since I didn’t have any fresh in the frig, but it was a bit flat for my taste as I poured a bit on a small bit of slaw as a test. I decided to go more American and add a bit of vinegar and mayonnaise to get a more sour and bold flavor. A second sample proved I’d made the right decision. It was downright delicious.
Mint was also left out of the recipe. I didn’t have any and I think it would have overwhelmed the salad along with the basil. I also fudged on the basil, substituting garden variety basil for Asian. I’m not sure if Asian basil has a different taste. I did notice in a photograph that the leaves looked smaller. I also substituted red onion for white to tone down the taste of onion and add color.
I also want to emphasize that you want to add the dressing only when serving. That will keep the rest of the slaw nice and crunchy for future servings, not wilted from the liquid of the dressing.
- 1 head green cabbage, cut in half and very thinly sliced (a mandolin works well)
- 1 cup peeled and shredded carrots
- 1/2 large red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced 1/4-inch thickness
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted and coarsely ground
- 1/3 cup tuk trey dressing (recipe below)
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- A few dried chili seeds, crushed chilies or thinly sliced fresh
Dressing (Tuk Trey)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 5 teaspoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Vinegar to taste
- Mayonnaise to taste
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and turn off heat. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve completely. Add remaining ingredients except vinegar and mayonnaise and stir to mix well. Let cool completely before dressing salad. Add the vinegar and mayonnaise separately (about 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise to 1/4 of the slaw mixture (enough for 2-4 servings). Garnish with more cilantro and crushed peanuts.
If you refuse to turn on your stove until the weather turns more pleasant and cooler, try using honey instead of sugar and skip the heating process. Your may have to use a little less water. The mixture may need to be blended with a whisk or hand mixer.
Click this link for the original recipe and other international cole slaws: