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

  • Yield: Serves 14-16


  • 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.

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Recipe adapted from one in Sunset Magazine, July 2004

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Showing 4 of 29 Comments

  • c

    Concerning above– romaine lettuce is completely unlike napa cabbage. I would never substitute romaine in most recipes for napa, although this one looks like romaine would do just fine.. it is just a salad after all. Don’t expect the same results though. I think thinly shredded bok choy would be a better substitute.

  • Tracey

    Just be sure to go easy on the sesame oil – I only like a few drops – it’s soooo strong. If you just add the ingredients to the amount of your taste buds versus measurements as written here I’m sure you’ll love it! I didn’t have any radishes so I used water chesnuts instead for the crunch. Water chesnuts may be a good sub for those who don’t like the “bite” of radishes.

  • Heidi

    Whoa! DELICIOUS! I love the dressing. My salad had all sorts of stuff in it, so not quite the same as yours…I didn’t have radishes or enough green onion. To add color I used red grapes, carrot, and red onion with the cabbage.

  • Kathleen

    This salad rocked! I didn’t have raddishes so substituted red pepper. It was great. Kids even liked it. I also had savoy instead of napa. Loved the dressing, used it for a pasta dish the next night b/c the dressing made so much.

  • Erika

    This is insanely delicious! I’m not a radish fan, normally, but we get a bunch of them from a CSA we belong to– usually at the same time that the peas are ready in my garden, and the CSA is also sending green onions and napa cabbage! It’s perfect timing and lets me use up all the things that are overflowing my fridge. I could eat the whole bowl by myself.

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