I didn’t make up this recipe. And I know it seems presumptuous to title a post “Hatsie’s” anything. But this is what we call it, because it is my favorite thing ever, ever, and if I renamed it, my family would think it’s weird.
I don’t actually know whose recipe this was originally. A friend of my mom’s was testing recipes for the Junior League cookbook back in my hometown of Abilene, TX and served this at a dinner party out on their ranch (did I just lose some of you? Stay with me, city dwellers…) My mom fell in love with it and got the recipe right then and there. It was later published in the cookbook, which is no longer in print, but we’ve changed it up so much over the years we don’t even use that recipe anymore. I ask for it every time I go home, for every birthday, and every Christmas. It is my favorite salad, partly because it’s delicious, but partly because it’s, well, mine.
This salad starts with a whole head of Napa cabbage, which is now available in most grocery stores but when we first started making this salad, garnered some strange looks from the produce guys. I separated the cabbage leaves, washed each very well then spun them dry. Sometimes, if you have a really big head of cabbage, the outside leaves will be more “rib” and less of the curly “leaf.” If that happens, as it did the last time I made this, I just cut out the tough, tasteless rib. I chopped all the cabbage into ribbon-like pieces.
Oh, and don’t be confused. The pictures I’m using are partly in my tiny, weirdly lit kitchen, and partly in my parents lovely, softly lit, large kitchen. Dishes may vary. Thank you for your patience.
OK! So I also chopped up some green onions and added them to the big bowl of chopped cabbage.
Next comes the crunchies. In a dry skillet I toast a whole bottle of sesame seeds until golden brown. Sesame seeds like to look like they’re not doing anything until you go to your pantry to get the ingredients for the dressing and then BOOM. They’re burnt. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t let the sesame seeds fool you.
Once these are nice and toasted, I transferred them to a bowl and wiped out the skillet of any clinging seeds. Then I took two packages of Ramen noodles, any flavor will do, and crushed them up in the bag. I added the crushed, dry noodles to the skillet and toasted those until golden brown as well. They aren’t as finicky as the sesame seeds, but you still want to watch them.
Next comes the almonds. Transfer the toasted noodles to the bowl with the sesame seeds in it and toast a package of slivered almonds. Remember, the nose knows. When they start smelling toasted, they’re toasted.
Once the crunchies were done, I started on the dressing. In a small sauce pot, I combined white vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and canola oil. I brought the liquid to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes. I actually time this, but I’m sure your world go on turning if you boiled it for, say, 2 1/2 minutes.
Once the dressing is done, transfer it to a jar and let it cool completely before pouring it on the salad.
You could do all of this a day in advance. All the components are finished, you’d just have to assemble. The last time I made this I was ready to eat it immediately, so when the dressing had cooled, I dumped the crunchy bits on top of the cabbage and scallions, then shook up the dressing so it was incorporated and poured that all over the salad. Toss to combine and…. Hatsie’s salad!
Traditionally, this is served with fried shrimp, new potatoes, and cheesecake for dessert. I say traditionally, because that is the meal I had for my birthday for about 13 years in a row. However, I like it on the side of pulled pork, or maybe some salmon. I also like it just by itself, which I’ve been known to do since I started making my own meals.
This is tangy and salty and a little sweet and a lot crunchy. To me, it’s the perfect combination of textures and tastes.
Here’s the recipe:
Hatsie’s Salad (Or you could call it Asian Chopped Salad, since you may not know me)
- 1 head of Napa cabbage, cleaned, dried, with the ribs removed.
- 2 bunches of green onions, white and some green parts, chopped
- 2 packages Ramen noodles, crunched up in the bag
- 1 ounce bottle of Sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Chop the cabbage into bite size ribbons. Add to a large bowl. Chop up green onions, using the white parts and some of the green parts. Add to the cabbage.
- In a dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until golden brown. Sesame seeds toast extremely quickly so make sure you watch them closely. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet. Next, toast the Ramen noodles until golden brown. Transfer to the same bowl and wipe out the skillet. Finally, toast the almonds until golden brown and they smell toasted. Transfer to the bowl.
- In a small sauce pan, combine the vinegar, sugar, oil, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a jar or other heat-proof container that can be sealed. Let cool.
- To assemble the salad, add the sesame seeds, Ramen noodles, and almonds to the cabbage. Mix up the dressing very well and pour it over the cabbage. Toss to combine.
Enjoy! And feel free to rename this to your salad if you so choose. We don’t mind!