Chinese-style coleslaw recipe with Asian herbs

Chinese-style 'slaw with  Sichuan salt and pepper (lobster optional).
Chinese-style 'slaw with Sichuan salt and pepper (lobster optional). Photo: William Meppem

With its piquant dressing and masses of fresh herbs, this vibrant salad makes a refreshing side dish during hot weather. For a truly unique taste of Australia, add finger limes, native karkalla (pigface), Bower spinach or samphire to your coleslaw.


1 small cucumber

3 small carrots, peeled

1 tsp white sugar

1 tsp sea salt

2 sticks of celery, finely sliced on the diagonal

½ cup malt vinegar

2 tbsp white sugar, extra

2½ cups finely shredded Chinese white cabbage

⅔ cup julienned spring onions

1¼ cup fresh bean sprouts

¼ cup round leaf mint leaves

¼ cup Vietnamese mint leaves

¼ cup sweet Thai basil leaves

¼ cup coriander leaves

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp roasted sesame seeds

pinch Sichuan pepper and salt (see recipe below)

For the Sichuan pepper and salt

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns

3 tbsp sea salt


1. Using a vegetable peeler, finely slice cucumber and carrots lengthways into ribbons. Set cucumber aside and cut carrots into a fine julienne. Combine carrots in a bowl with sugar and salt, mix well and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

2. Add celery to a small saucepan of boiling salted water and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain, refresh under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

3. Combine vinegar and extra sugar in a small, heavy-based saucepan and stir over heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer, uncovered for about a minute or until slightly reduced. Set aside to cool before stirring through pickled carrot.

4. In a bowl, combine reserved cucumber, pickled carrot mixture, celery, cabbage, spring onion, bean sprouts and herbs. Pour over combined soy sauce and lemon juice and mix well. Arrange in a salad bowl, sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds, Sichuan pepper and salt and serve immediately.

To make the Sichuan pepper and salt: Dry-roast peppercorns and salt in a heavy-based pan. When the peppercorns begin to pop and become aromatic, take off the heat. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder (makes 4 tbsp).

Serving suggestion: Add some sliced, poached lobster to this refreshing coleslaw.