Thai Salad with Spicy Dressing

thai salad

Finely cut Napa cabbage is topped with a plethora of fresh vegetables and then topped with seafood or chicken and nuts and tossed with a gingery spicy dressing. This flavorful salad is absolutely beautiful and delicious. When I made this yesterday I shared it with my parents and my dad said that it was the best salad that he had ever had (and he doesn’t even like ginger!). It was really, really good! Definitely a company worthy main dish salad. Oh, and did I mention that it was also an example of a low starch meal? This recipe (published here with permission) is from the book Cuisine for Whole Health: Recipes for a Sustainable Life by Pauli Halstead. Some of you may have seen the thumb’s up review of the book Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora T Gedgaudas in the Wise Traditions Journal. Julie from Cultures of Health recently lent me a copy and while I certainly didn’t agree with everything, I found the research she shared fascinating and helpful. Her eating plan is pretty simple, low carbohydrates, moderate protein, plenty of fats to satisfy, and vegetables to fill the meal out. The way it was described in her book didn’t appeal to me very much. I like to enjoy my food and this lower calorie, low carb way of eating seemed a little lack luster. Sometimes a health diet on paper can’t appeal the same way a table with food can. So I was intrigued when Nora recommended Pauli’s cookbook. This is what she had to say.

At long last, someone wonderful has come along and written the closest thing to a culinary companion guide to my own book, Primal Body-Primal Mind.  Chef Pauli Halstead has created a compendium of culinary masterpieces here that are sure to please even the most discriminating of “primal palates” with Cuisine For Whole Health: Recipes For A Sustainable Life. There is nothing dull about the ways in which Pauli crafts even something as seemingly pedestrian as a salad.    Having sampled some of Pauli’s creations I have been struck by how awe inspiringly memorable they are, even in their relative simplicity.  I still will never forget her “Thai Salad with Spicy Dressing” made with tender chicken…or “Salmon with Haricots Verts, Eggs and Nicoise Olives” …the stuff that dreams are made of.   –Mmmmmmm…… The book itself is a feast for the eyes–gorgeously illustrated–as much as it promises to be a feast for your palate and is well designed with practical usage in mind. The book does have one or two recipes listing ingredients I would tend to not personally be inclined to include, such as rice and natural sweeteners, as well as a few dessert offerings—There is even a snack named for Yours Truly—ironically containing potentially sweetened ingredients…but is admittedly a worthy rival to my own acclaimed Nut Ball Snackers. Nonetheless, recipe for recipe this cook book is the best I’ve found so far for promoting both health and sustainability….including sustainability of budget.  The recipes are also easy to follow and are accessible by those having even the most basic of kitchen skills. Pauli is an experienced gourmet chef, having owned a successful restaurant in San Francisco and an acclaimed catering company in Napa Valley.  There is nothing amateurish about her knowledge of food or her creative culinary prowess.  Pauli is an undisputed Master of natural and sustainable, healthy cuisine. If you happen to be looking for the perfect complement to my book for someone you know who happens to be embarking on a new “primal” change of diet this holiday season you could hardly do better than “Cuisine For Whole Health” by Pauli Halstead.  “Caveman cuisine” never tasted so imaginative or inspired.  Mark my words, there is something for everyone in it’s pages and this beautifully written and illustrated book is sure to be a treasured part of your kitchen library for many years to come.

All I have to say is that this gourmet cookbook will make you feel that you are not on any sort of “health diet”. You will just be eating really good food. The recipes are fresh and they all sound very satisfying and flavorful. I think that this would be a great cookbook for my grain free readers or “cavemen” dieters (one of the best I have ever seen!) even though there are just a few recipes that use grains. But quite frankly I will be enjoying it myself, even though we aren’t grain free! I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes I’ve marked in her book, like Thai Beef Satay, Roasted Garlic Almond Soup, Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, Beef Carpaccio Salad and Salmon with Haricots Verts, Eggs and Nicoise Olives and noodle free Pad Thai. Meanwhile, here’s a delightful recipe. I didn’t use tomatoes because they are out of season right now. I also made the spicy dressing not so spicy (I skipped the jalapeno and used only half the red pepper flakes) so that my three year old would like the salad. And we all did! Very delicious.

Thai Salad With Spicy Dressing Serves 6The Salad ingredients

      1/2 head of Napa Cabbage, shredded
      2 cups chopped, cooked chicken or seafood
      2 bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange) cut into matchsticks
      2 large carrots cut into matchsticks
      1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
      1 cup mung bean sprouts
      enoki or other fresh sliced mushrooms (optional)
      1 cup roasted macadamia nuts, finely chopped
    1 cup chopped cilantro leaves

In a large bowl toss the shredded cabbage in some of the dressing,. Arrange the cabbage on a large platter., Scatter the cooked chicken or seafood on top of the cabbage. Artistically arrange the prepared bell peppers, carrots, green onions, and tomatoes around the edge of the salad, and scatter the mung bean sprouts on top. Whisk the dressing and spoon some more evenly over top. Garnish the salad with 1/2 cup of the chopped macadamias and the cilantro. Pass more dressing if desires. Spicy Dressing

      3/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
      1 cup organic cold pressed sesame oil
      1/4 cup Nama Shoyu soy sauce of San-J wheat free tamari (if you want this dressing to be gluten free, make sure you choose the second option)
      Juice of one lime
      2 tablespoons minced garlic
      4 tablespoons microplaned fresh or frozen ginger
      1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced

In a bowl whisk together all the dressing ingredients. This dressing keeps really well in the refrigerator.

Pauli kindly sent me a copy of her book to review. Thanks Pauli!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


    • KimiHarris says


      Her book isn’t strictly paleo and I am not sure what most paleo eaters would think of the sprouts. I do think that sprouts are different than eating the beans however.

  1. says

    That salad sound absolutely mouth watering. I bet the dressing would be even better if one substituted miso for the shoyu/tamari. Then again I’m a miso fiend.

  2. says

    This looks and sounds so yummy! I love salads that feature lots of shredded/matchstick veggies. I guess I’m a texture junkie when it comes to salads!

  3. Sarah L says

    Is Napa Cabbage different from regular cabbage, because I thought I read on your blog once that cabbage really shouldn’t be eaten raw?

    • KimiHarris says

      You are right! You did read that I cautioned against eating a lot of raw cabbage and I believe that Napa cabbage will be in that same category. However, I think it’s fine to eat every once in a while. Especially if you eating thyroid supporting foods too. 🙂

  4. Kedesh says

    We eat raw mung bean sprouts regularly! They’re great and last longer in the fridge than all other sprouts I’ve sprouted.

  5. says

    Can’t tell you how great this sounds and I am going to indulge right-a-way. So glad I found your web-site. many thanks. Have never bought mung beans, but this is really worth trying.
    All such great information as I am attempting the Paleo Diet as well. Jan

  6. Claire Chapman says

    Thanks for the recipe, it looked so good and the book so interesting that I ordered it! Here’s a suggestion, if possible at all: Please format the recipes so it is possible to print the recipe only, that would be great. If not no worries, we can do it too. Thanks for your great blog.

  7. Kara says

    I made this recipe yesterday for me and my hubby and we both really liked it! I halved the recipe since it was just the two of us. I sweetened the dressing a little, too (just because it’s our personal preference).

    I had never had Napa cabbage before! This was an awesome meal. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  8. says

    Thank you for linking this again. I must have missed it the first time. But I got a head of Napa cabbage in our CSA basket this week. I think I’ll try this salad. It looks great! I would also love to hear more about thyroid supporting foods. I’ve been on thyroid suppliments for 13 years now after having testing extrememly low after the birth of our son. It seems to run in the family, my mom and grandma suffer from the same condition. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  9. Melissa says

    The recipe ingredients say 1 c. macadamia nuts and 1 c. cilantro, but the instructions say to only use 1/2 c. of each. Is the extra just in case?

  10. Melissa says


    Also, the instructions mention tomatoes, but tomatoes are not listed in the ingredients?


  11. Jean Fournier says

    You may not be too excited about low carb meals, but for someone like me with
    diabetes 2, this sort of meal really keeps my blood sugar under control! My husband
    also has diabetes 2, but his blood sugar is not as sensitive as mine is. A little carb,
    a little protein(3-4 oz.) and some veggies go a long way to keep blood glucose on an
    even keel, which in turn prevents complications from developing.


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