Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad

Every year around the Fourth of July, my friends Rich and Chigiy throw a huge barbecue party for their friends, and for number two son Dashiell, a July 4th baby. Every year, the talented Chigiy (pronounced “chi-gee”) makes this terrific salad with Chinese napa cabbage, radishes, snow peas, toasted slivered almonds, and a sweet soy mayo dressing. And every year, the salad all gets eaten before most get a chance to taste it, and before I am able take a photo. This year, however, Chigiy tripled the recipe (which already serves 15) and had enough left for me to capture on a pretty plate. This is a truly great salad for large summer gatherings. Much of it can be made ahead, and then assembled when you are ready to serve. Enjoy.

Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad Recipe



  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 8 cups (1 lb) coarsely shredded napa cabbage
  • 12 ounces snow peas, strings removed, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/3 cups thinly sliced radishes
  • 1 1/3 cups thinly sliced green onions (including greens)
  • 1 1/3 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

Dressing ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 clove peeled and minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 cup mayonnaise


1 Spread almond slivers out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned. OR toast in stick-free or cast-iron skillet on medium high, stirring frequently until browned. Set aside.

2 Combine cabbage, snow peas, radishes, green onions, cilantro in a large bowl. Can make this step a day or two ahead.

3 In a separate bowl, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and cayenne until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the mayonnaise.

4 When ready to serve, gently combine the dressing and almonds with the cabbage mixture.

Serves 14-16.

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Recipe adapted from one in Sunset Magazine, July 2004

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Showing 4 of 29 Comments

  • Jennifer

    This looks really good. I would love to try it, but does anyone have a different idea for the dressing (for someone who is mayo-phobic)?

  • jonathan

    Jennifer, you may want to try subbing the mayo with plain yogurt or sour cream (lowfat if you wish) to get you close to the same texture. I think I’d throw some chow mein noodles on top for a little extra crunch…

  • finnadat

    This kinda reminds me of my default slaw that I’ve been using for years from Emeril (I know, I know, but he wasn’t so bad 10 years ago) –,1977,FOOD_9936_12773,00.html. The sesame really brings up the dressing and the addition of some garlic chili adds another great layer.

  • Elly

    I don’t think I can get Napa Cabbage in lower Alabama. Would regular cabbage work okay?

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