Mission Chinese Food’s Cabbage Salad

January 22, 2015
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

At first glance, this salad looks like an odd jumble of ingredients, many of which you might not have in your pantry. Don't let that deter you. Sam Sifton wrote about this salad in the Times, described the combination as "a riot of umami," and, relaying Danny Bowien's message, encouraged readers not to worry about finding each and every ingredient -- any number of vinegars could work in place of the ume and rice vinegars, and using one of the three seaweeds is just fine, etc. I was able to find everything I needed with the exception of the shio kombu, which I left out, at my local co-op.

This salad is at once hearty and fresh, familiar and unusual, and surprisingly addictive. If you don't have red cabbage, green, of course, could work, and again, if you don't have some of the ingredients, just leave them out.

Source: The New York Times. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1 medium beet (yellow or candy-striped is nice)
  • Juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon shio kombu or salted kombu, optional
  • 1 teaspoon teaspoon dried hijiki seaweed
  • 1 teaspoon ume vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon shiro shoyu or light soy sauce
  • 8 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
  • 1/2 cup kasha
  • 2 tablespoons aonori seaweed, green seaweed, or finely shredded nori
  • 2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
  1. Cut cabbage in half, and remove core. Note: Original recipe calls for cutting the cabbage into 1-inch wedges and then into 1-inch pieces, but I prefer slicing the cabbage into thin strips -- I just find it easier to eat this way. Toss the cabbage pieces lightly in a bowl, and set aside.
  2. Under running cold water, scrub beet with a vegetable brush or paper towel. Trim the beet top and beet root to provide a flat base for slicing on a mandoline. Set thickness to 1/8 inch, and slice beets into flat rounds. Note: I like to stack the slices and julienne them -- again, I just find the vegetables easier to eat when they are in strips -- but cut them as you wish. Season beets with half the lemon juice, and add them to the bowl with cabbage. Set aside.
  3. Make sesame-anchovy dressing. In a small bowl, cover hijiki with warm tap water. Allow to bloom for 15 minutes, then drain well and season with ume vinegar or red wine vinegar. Add miso, tahini, rice vinegar, shiro shoyu, the remaining lemon juice, and the anchovies, and whisk to combine. Dressing should have a thick, almost mayonnaise-like consistency.
  4. Make the kasha furikake: Pour neutral oil into a sauté pan, and place over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Pour kasha into the hot pan, and stir it quickly with a spoon to coat with oil. Allow kasha to fry in the oil, stirring constantly, until it has darkened by two shades of brown. Watch closely! The darkening happens quickly, and it's best to err on the side of caution, otherwise the kasha will taste bitter. Drain kasha through a fine strainer, and transfer to a plate covered by paper towel. While it is hot, season with the seaweed, which should adhere to the kasha. When it has cooled, mix kasha in a small bowl with the toasted sesame seeds and, if using, the shio kombu. Salt to taste.
  5. Make the salad. Add 3 tablespoons of the sesame-anchovy dressing to the bowl with the cabbage and the beets, and mix well to combine. Taste. Add more dressing or a pinch of salt if necessary. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, and sprinkle 4 tablespoons or so of the kasha furikake over the top. (Leftover kasha furikake may be passed at the table, or saved to eat over white rice.)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Betty Jo McDonald
    Betty Jo McDonald
  • Linda Tom
    Linda Tom
  • Caitlin Gunther
    Caitlin Gunther
  • Susan W
    Susan W
  • Whats4Dinner
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

35 Reviews

BonnieC. July 3, 2022
This looks wonderful & I can't wait to try it. I do find it amusing that it originates from "Mission Chinese", since ingredient-wise it seems to be 100% Japanese in nature.
linda March 31, 2022
Hijiki seaweed has been shown to be high in arsenic and it’s consumption should be limited.
PumpkinPi September 4, 2017
This was amazing! I didn't use the kombu, but instead sprinkled 1 Tbsp store-bought ume furikake on the toasted kasha. I also thinned it out with chicken stock and then poured it over soba noodles, cabbage, beets, carrots, green pepper, radishes, and green onions. Perfect dish for a hot day.
Alexandra S. September 4, 2017
Betty J. June 11, 2017
I want to make this this fall--concentrating on corn, tomatoes and squash, green beans and greens for the summer. I agree about the comments about exotic.
Bring it on! I cook a lot of Japanese food because I live with a Sansei. I have to say all kinds of sea vegetables have been an acquired taste for a transplanted Texan who had never tasted a vegetable that wasn't over cooked until I moved to California years ago. I am a vegan , but I can happily make almost any recipe vegan.
Erica May 22, 2017
Is the kasha already cooked, or is it the raw groats you're toasting and then using? Mission Chinese is one of my favorite restaurants!
Alexandra S. May 23, 2017
Hi Erica, the kasha is raw actually!
Linda T. January 27, 2015
Absolutely brilliant. Just made this and my tastebuds are dancing from sheer delight.
It's currently 80F in Singapore, so I'll be serving this on top of cold buckwheat noodles and a drizzle of sesame oil for dinner tonight!
Had most of the ingredients handy but next time I'll replace the lemon with mandarin orange juice.
There's still some of the amazing anchovy dressing leftover - will blend it into my next batch of hummus! Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Alexandra S. January 27, 2015
Yay! And I love the idea of using mandarin juice in place of lemon and of serving this over cold buckwheat noodles...I'm going to remember this when purple cabbages are still showing up in my CSA next summer.
Fran M. October 16, 2017
So glad you mentioned orange juice. I don’t like lemons I feel sick after eating them,I usually substitute lime but orange appeals to me even more.
Caitlin G. January 26, 2015
I've cooked with kombu in restaurants before but never thought of where to buy it in NY - any suggestions? This looks fantastic!
Alexandra S. January 26, 2015
Hi Caitlin,

I've been surprised by the places I've seen kombu recently — regular grocery stores, health food stores, etc. An Asian market definitely will carry it. What I couldn't find was shio kombu, so if you are looking for that, I would make a trip to an Asian market. But remember the advice from Danny Bowien: If you don't have something, leave it out.

There are a lot of big flavors in this salad, so don't worry if you can't find something.
Caitlin G. January 26, 2015
Good to know. If i can't find kombu in the Snowpocalypse, I'll make this dish with what I've got on hand. Cheers!!
Alexandra S. January 26, 2015
Haha, nice, stay warm!
Susan W. January 26, 2015
I can't wait to make this. I am going to make the shio kombu since I have everything and make dashi every week. Great way to reuse the kombu.

What is anori? I can't even seem to find it on google. Different way of saying nori? I have two different kinds of furikake I need to use. Will that work? If so, all I need to buy is the kasha and veggies. Sounds so good!
Alexandra S. January 26, 2015
Yay! From what I understand, aonori seaweed is basically finely shredded or ground nori. Here's what wikipedia says:

I think you could use either (or a little of both) furikake, and if that is the case, I don't think you need to buy the aonori seaweed. It sounds as though you're in good shape — kasha and veggies is an easy grocery store run. The shio kombu was the one ingredient I left out, so I'll be curious to hear how it turns out with that included. Good luck!
Sena January 25, 2015
I made some changes to the recipe because I am vegan and have trouble digesting raw cabbage. I also only had nori in the house, so that's what I used. I left out the anchovies and sauteed the cabbage and beet mixture. It was absolutely delicious!!! My non-veg hubby also loved it. I just found this: Next time, I'll add capers. I did use Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids instead of the light soy sauce or shiro shoyu. It's delicious as is, but I may experiment a little more next time. Thank you for this yummy recipe!
Alexandra S. January 25, 2015
So great to hear this! My carnivorous (though often deprived) husband also loved it. Love the idea of giving the cabbage and beets a little sauté. And thanks for the link to the hotline thread — very helpful!
Sena January 25, 2015
:o) My hubby just finished it a couple of minutes ago and said (unsolicited), "That beet cabbage thing you made is really good!"
Alexandra S. January 25, 2015
Yay! Makes me so happy :)
Whats4Dinner January 25, 2015
I have to agree with Hungryheart. I happen to have all the ingredients in my pantry (I'm vegan and will be skipping the anchovies) except for the kasha. I've been interested in exploring this grain anyway, so to the market tomorrow for me! I'll let you know how this turns out veganized because I can't resist anything with cabbage :-)
Whats4Dinner January 25, 2015
Oh and Hungryheart, I'm also Korean :-)
Alexandra S. January 25, 2015
Oooh, please report back! Would love to hear how it turns out sans anchovies.
Scout January 25, 2015
Just want to be sure - the raw kasha is just toasted, not cooked with any liquid!
Alexandra S. January 25, 2015
Yes! The kasha just gets a brief toasting in oil — watch it closely bc it quickly goes from toasted to burnt. Kasha is actually already roasted — it's toasted buckwheat groats. Some recipes do call for cooking it with liquid, but this one just calls for another toasting. All of this, by the way, is news to me — I had never used or purchased or eaten kasha before trying this recipe.
Alexandra F. January 24, 2015
Where do you use the aonori seaweed??? It mentions mixing the seaweed with the kasha--but not which seaweed?
Alexandra S. January 24, 2015
Hi! Sorry about this confusion — add the aonori seaweed in step 4. It gets added to the hot, toasted kasha, which it should adhere to.
Alexandra F. January 26, 2015
I had the chance to try this recipe over the weekend, and I ended up forgetting to put the anchovies in at the very end! Oh well, we'll try it with the leftovers. The flavor was very seaweedy to me. My biggest issue was that the red cabbage we found was very tough and so I ended up shredding it in the food processor vs. large chunks. I think sauteing it would be a good option if all you have is a big old cabbage. We also found that the single beet was lost amongst the cabbage. Small beet, big cabbage. I'd love to understand the intended beet/cabbage ration.

The kashi was the most fun element of this recipe. I don't think the recipe itself lets you know what it becomes--I had been expecting a soft, couscous like element. It toasts & pops in the pan almost like popcorn and creates a salty, crunchy topping which is seriously delicious!
Alexandra S. January 26, 2015
I found the cabbage to be tough as well when it was cut into chunks, which is why I shredded mine the second time around. I found half a head of shredded cabbage and one large julienned beet to be a good ratio. I wish I had weights or cup measurements to guide you. Did you use a whole cabbage or half? Next time, I would stick to half a cabbage, and up the beets to two — I don't think you could really overdo it on the beets actually.

And yes, isn't the kasha fun?! Love it.
Moire January 24, 2015
Are you kidding me? Too many exotic ingredients for this to be a use for leftovers.
Alexandra S. January 24, 2015
Oh yes, I would totally agree...this is a recipe for when you have an overload of red cabbage. Also, just so you know, you can still make this dressing/salad without all of the exotic ingredients. Any vinegar will work. You can use just one kind of seaweed (I shredded nori for the kasha furikake). I think the essentials are tahini, miso, soy, anchovies, lemon and vinegar — not too too bad, right? Typically, this is the sort of ingredient list that makes me run, but with two heads of red cabbage sitting in my fridge, I was willing to make the exception.
hungryheart January 25, 2015
Declaring a recipe as exotic and preposterous ("Are you kidding me?") is rude and narrow-minded of Food52's audience. This recipe is inspiring and I'm very grateful to be reminded of my mother's cooking from Korean seaside town Ma-san, which features sea vegetables and seasonings that don't recall "normal" (read: Euro-centric) standards.

Thank you for this recipe. I'll be making my own riff of this soon.
Alexandra S. January 25, 2015
Hungryheart, thank you for your comment. I have been using Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and she describes sea vegetables as one of her favorite foods to eat. Just found the passage, which prefaces a "Carrots with Hijiki (or Arame)" recipe: "Sea vegetables are among the most nutritious plants on earth, and hijiki and arame are two very likeable ones, especially in this Japanese dish, which is one of my all-time favorite things to eat." I have been dying to make this recipe since reading this endorsement, and I am so excited to have hijiki on hand now!

Would love to hear about your riff on this cabbage salad.
Evan January 26, 2015
I would also like to point out that ingredients that may be "exotic" to one person might be basic to another. This recipe is the perfect combination of leftovers and pantry staples for me since these are things I keep on hand as an Asian American person who often cooks Asian-influenced foods. I am not "exotic" to myself, and I appreciate the fact that Food52 publishes recipes for different cooks with different tastes rather than assuming that everyone has an objective standard for which ingredients are common and which are outside the comfort zone. I look forward to cooking the dish next time I'm pondering uses for red cabbage.
Susan W. January 26, 2015
I happen to be binging on all things Asian so I already own all but two items. If you asked me to cook Indian foods, I'd have to buy everything, so it really depends what foods you cook. I just slowly started gathering ingredients and kept finding recipes to try. I think I started with Bibimbap. It also helps to have H Mart close by.