Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Sesame Slaw

I’m Vietnamese-American. Growing up, my family actually ate more typical American fare than Southeast Asian food – which is a shame, because I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.

Thai and Vietnamese spice profiles are truly a taste odyssey and can be a fun exercise for the palate. The balance of heat with sweet, sour with savory, and the generous use of aromatic herbs like cilantro, mint, and basil are only some of the reasons that I return to these flavors again and again.

In fact, I love them SO MUCH that my meal prep for this week is entirely Thai-spiced. To start us off, I made this sesame slaw which combines traditional slaw ingredients like carrots and cabbage with sweet slivers of Asian pear, a healthy kick of chili-infused sesame oil, rich pops of roasted peanut, and bright bursts of cilantro. If we had food spirit animals, this would probably be mine – it’s a little bit American, a little bit exotic, pretty healthy, yet still a little indulgent. Regardless, it makes a lovely addition to any weekly meal prep rotation and would actually be a pretty rad dish to take to a potluck.

Sweet and Spicy Sesame Slaw

(Serves 8-10)




  • 2 12oz. bags of shredded broccoli, carrots, green cabbage, and red cabbage (because I’m lazy and this was more affordable than buying all the ingredients separately)
  • 2 Asian pears
  • 3 scallions
  • 1/4c. of finely chopped fresh cilantro


  • 2 tbsp. of chili-infused sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. of sesame oil
  • 1 1/2tbsp. of tamari
  • 1 tbsp. of mirin
  • 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of brown sugar
  • Juice of one small lime
  • 3 rounded tbsp. of crunchy peanut butter
  • 2-3 tbsp of sesame seeds  (I used a mixture of white and black sesame seeds for aesthetic reasons only.)



  1. Put shredded vegetables into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Julienne (cut into match sticks) Asian pears and finely chop scallions and cilantro. Add to the mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate small mixing bowl, combine sesame oils, tamari, mirin, brown sugar, peanut butter, apple cider vinegar, and juice from half the lime. Mix.
  4. Sample the sauce. The tricky thing about making a sauce like this is that depending on the brand you buy, the chili oil might either be overpowering or barely present. Add additional chili oil to taste. If your sauce is too spicy, try adding another tablespoon of peanut butter using the fat to temper out the spice.
  5. Once you have a sauce you feel comfortable with flavor-wise, pour over the slaw mixture in the large mixing bowl and toss.
  6. Once mixed well, squeeze the rest of the lime juice into the slaw and add sesame seeds.
  7. Toss lightly and serve!



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