Cabbage Slaw and Chicken Salad with a Thai Twist

Summer is coming and that means brunching, picnics, and potlucks! Surprise and delight your friends and family with a Thai-inspired cabbage slaw and Chopped Chicken Salad or Laab Gai. With relatively little prep, you can please both the meat and seafood lovers sitting down to eat and pair all of their creations with La Crema Monterey Pinot Gris or for the steak lovers, choose a La Crema Pinot Noir.

Whether spring has come to your part of the country, these colorful, modern approaches to two classic picnic foods will have you forgetting about winter in no time at all. These are also the perfect make ahead foods for weekend brunches or potlucks.

Best of all is how forgiving the flavors in these dishes are. As fruits and vegetables transition from winter to spring I often rely on sauces to give dishes an added kick. Here you can choose your ingredients focusing on the colors they bring to your plate. I chose cherry and grape tomatoes for their brilliant yellow, orange, and red hues, and green bell peppers to add depth to the paleness of the green and savoy cabbages. When cherry and grape tomatoes aren’t available, I substitute roma tomatoes and toss in a few red, orange, and yellow bell peppers.

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No Hassle, Serve Yourself Salad Buffet Makes Cooking for Allergies a Breeze

Cooking for guests with food allergies? Prepare your salad ingredients ahead of time, packing each separately, and let guests pick and choose. Be sure to label well if an allergen isn’t obvious, for example if you prepare your cabbage with the Fish Sauce and Lime dressing before inviting guests to partake.

The dressing for the cabbage slaw is the perfect bridge for your choice of toppings, just 1/4 to 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on if you prefer salty to sour or sour to salty as your main flavor) and 1/3 cup of fish sauce–two ingredients that are in almost all Thai dishes. For guests preferring to avoid heat, boiled or grilled shrimp and grilled chicken are the perfect toppings. For those liking a little heat, both the shrimp and the steak from the Thai-Inspired Surf and Turf Taco Tuesday Meal will work beautifully.

Choose Colorful Ingredients to Delight the Eye

Who says salad is boring? Offer a buffet of colorful toppings for cabbage slaw and let guests serve themselves.

The dressing along with the cabbage slaw and cabbage leaves for serving your chopped chicken salad make pairing your picnic with a wine simple: La Crema Monterey Pinot Gris. Depending on which topping, you’ll pull a different fruit note to the front of your palate as you enjoy. (Marinate your steak using the dressing from the Thai-Inspired Surf and Turf Taco Tuesday meal recipe and it’ll pair beautifully with the Pinot Gris when you add it to the dressed cabbage slaw.)

Effortless Weekend Brunch with a Thai-Take on Cabbage Slaw and Chopped Chicken Salad

As days get longer, parks beckon. Spring fever runs amok. So be ready to take to the grass with bold flavors and two Thai twists on two classic picnic foods.

Wokked Chicken Breast with Tomato, Red Onion, Green Onion, and Serrano Pepper

Serve chopped chicken salad, larb or laab gai, hot or cold at your next picnic for a refreshing pick me up. Dice your chicken breast rather than mince to reduce prep time. But take care to get your chicken a consistent size, you don’t want to overcook it.

Change Your Flavor Profile by Switching in Your Favorite Local Chili Pepper

It’s rare that I prepare a chilled dish ahead of time with Thai chilis. To get the bold red color of the chilis I substitute red bell pepper and depending on availability choose Serrano or Jalapeno peppers.

Chopped Chicken Salad with Thai Flavors

Recipe type: Appetizer, Side
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4


  • 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon, diced Serrano pepper, deseeded
  • 1 small clove Garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Red onion, diced
  • 1/8 cup Green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Cherry or Grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/8 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Fish Sauce, divided
  • 2 small Carrots, grated for garnish
  • Green, Savvoy, or red cabbage leaves for serving


  1. Heat a large skillet or everyday pan over medium heat. When the pan is warm, add 1 Tablespoon of oil.
  2. When the oil is warm (starts to shimmer), add garlic and chili pepper.
  3. When you can smell the garlic and pepper, add the chicken and the onion, about five to eight minutes.
  4. When the onion is about 80% done, almost completely translucent, add the green onion, tomatoes, 2 Tablespoons of lime juice, and 1/8 cup Fish Sauce, and mix thoroughly.
  5. Check the chicken periodically and remove from heat immediately when done to avoid drying out the meat.
  6. Wait until you’re ready to serve before adding mint leaves, cilantro, and remaining lime juice and Fish sauce. Toss until well mixed. If serving the Chopped Chicken a top the cabbage slaw, do not dress with the remaining lime juice and Fish sauce.
  7. Plate and serve immediately. Or chill for your picnic.
  8. If you’re making this dish a day ahead for your picnic, reserve remaining lime juice and Fish sauce. Also, store minced mint leaves and cilantro in separate, air tight containers until ready to serve.


Cabbage Slaw with a Thai Dressing

Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 to 8

Quick, simple cabbage slaw will add color to your afternoon without a lot of prep.


  • 1 half medium head of Red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 half medium head of Green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 small Carrots, shredded
  • 1 green Bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red Bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound grilled Chicken breast, sliced, 1 pound grilled Skirt steak, or 1 pound boiled or grilled Shrimp with tails left on
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed Lime juice
  • 1/3 cup Fish sauce
  • 1 cup Cherry or Grape tomatoes, quartered or Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Serrano peppers, deseeded and sliced


  1. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and chicken (or steak). Mix until evenly distributed.
  2. Add Lime juice and fish sauce. Toss until coated with dressing. (If making ahead of time, wait to dress the salad until right before serving as the cabbage will wilt once dressed.)
  3. Add tomatoes and optionally serrano peppers. (If making ahead of time, keep tomatoes and serrano peppers in their own containers to keep flavors fresh.)
  4. If enjoying with shrimp, place shrimp a top each plate and serve immediately.
Shop Your Deli Counter for Quick No Cook Proteins

Both the cabbage slaw and chopped chicken salad are perfect all year round dishes. The bold, earthiness of the fish sauce and the tartness of the lime carry the dish, so you can use cherry or grape tomatoes not yet at the peak of their season (or just past their peak) as well as grilled, sliced chicken breast or rotisserie chicken or cooked shrimp.

When prepping your salad toppings ahead of time or packing your picnic, be sure to use containers that won’t leak and that are air-tight. The tight seal not only keeps your picnic basket tidy, but also keeps your flavors from getting muddy–if you toss tomato and onion into the same container the onion overpowers the sweetness of the tomato.

Keep Toppings Separate Until Ready to Eat

It’s tempting to want to save time and add all of your ingredients to your cabbage slaw. Resist the urge! Store each component separately in food grade stainless steel containers to keep flavors fresh. Then add the mix of ingredients that fits your desire, sour with a hint of heat, inferno with a sweet touch, or something else.

I love prepping my ingredients the night before (or making an extra portion of two of my favorite stir fries), packing them up, and heading out the door worry free, knowing that my flavors will be fresh and bold, and I won’t have a mess greeting me when I reach my friends’ house or the park.



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