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A First Time for Everything: Asian Peanut Slaw

Asian Peanut Slaw

My Mum has a saying, one which should bring comfort to frustrated parents everywhere: “Picky eaters are just good cooks in the making”. Though this hasn’t been scientifically proven, it’s definitely proved accurate in the case of me and my sister, and indeed most of our cousins, too.

My family was rife with picky eaters, and I was the worst of the bunch. Christmas Eve dinner for me was often a roll with butter, and I would routinely get stomach aches before going to a certain aunt’s house for dinner, so frightened I was of whatever she was going to foist upon us. (I’ve since come to realise that said aunt is actually a wonderful cook, and love eating at her house.)

Though my picky-eater status is nowhere near where it used to me, and my good cook status much improved, there are still a few things that I’ve never been tempted to try, let alone cook. Dishes that, by their merest mention, make my stomach turn. Among the worst of these offenders is coleslaw. I know people who adore the stuff, waxing lyrical about the contrast of crunch and creaminess. But me? I only see cabbage, raw cabbage, smothered in that most revolting invention of humankind, mayonnaise. No, thank you.

Asian Peanut Slaw

It was somewhat of a surprise then, when I came across a coleslaw recipe that I immediately wanted to make- and eat. The Peanut Slaw from David Lebovitz‘s wonderful book The Sweet Life in Paris jumped out at me for its decidedly un-coleslaw-like vibe. A fresh and crunchy mixture of cabbage and carrots, it’s dressed not with gloopy mayo, but with a simple mixture of peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice. Since there’s nothing (in my opinion) that can’t be made better by the addition of peanut butter, I figured if I was ever going to try coleslaw, this was going to be it.

And it was delicious. You know what my Mum also likes to say? There’s a first time for everything.

Asian Peanut Slaw

  • Asian Peanut Slaw
  • adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
  • serves 4 as a side
  • For the slaw:
    4 cups finely shredded Savoy cabbage
    2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
    2 spring onions, chopped finely
    1/3 cup chopped coriander (stems and leaves)

    For the dressing:
    1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
    1 garlic clove, minced
    juice of one lime
    2 Tbs. sesame oil
    1 Tbs. soy sauce
    1 Tbs. boiling water
    good pinch sea salt
  • 1. Toss together all slaw ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

    2. To make the dressing, I like to combine all ingredients in a watertight tupperware container (or glass jar, or anything with a reliable seal) and shake until smooth. If you’re possessed of infinite patience, you can also whisk them together in a small bowl.

    3. Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss until everything is well coated. Serve immediately.
  • Note: This slaw doesn’t keep well, but can be made in advance up to the point where slaw and dressing are combined.


  1. Hilary says:

    I am killing myself at the second paragraph about the stomach aches. Soooooooo funny given that said aunt is actually an amazing cook.

  2. fresh365 says:

    I love peanut sauce, but never thought to use it on slaw. Totally brings the normal slaw up a notch!

  3. Skippy makes great peanut sauce – I’ve done something similar with noodles but not as a slaw. I must try it. Good to see you back too.

  4. Dana says:

    My husband loves coleslaw even though he says he hates both cabbage and mayo. The problem is that he gets a stomach ache every time he eats it. Mayo is just too hard on his tummy. This is a great solution and would go so well with the Asian meals I am so fond of making.

  5. Hannah says:

    I’m a huge peanut sauce fan, but I’ve never tried it on slaw! This looks delicious.

  6. [...] recesses of my mind, and I promptly forgot about it. Fast forward to a year later. After finally getting to grips with slaws in general, I’m a little more adventurous than I was last year. Also, I have a massive stalk [...]

  7. [...] lovely cabbage is almost too pretty to cook, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll make a crunchy coleslaw with it, which would suit my current need for packable-lunches-on-the-go. I’ve been gorging [...]