With grilling season upon us, the thing I look most forward to is the array of fresh flavors that salads and slaws bring to the table. This Asian-style recipe is packed full of flavor, with less calories than mayonnaise laden dressings.

1/2 pound English cucumber (1 large)
6 cups Napa cabbage
2 cups carrots
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce*
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1-1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 fresh jalapeño chili
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, stem, seed and mince the jalapeño. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, jalapeño and garlic.

Wash the cucumber, cabbage and carrots. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise; trim and discard ends. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds out and discard. Finely shred the cabbage. Grate the carrots.

Combine the prepared vegetables in a large bowl and pour the dressing over, toss to coat. This salad can be served immediately or covered and chilled for 30 minutes to 4 hours. Kept longer, the cucumbers will weep and the salad will become excessively wet and limp.

*Fish sauce can be found in most larger grocery stores. Asian dishes use fish sauce in the way American dishes use salt. Fish sauce has the consistency of vinegar and is deeper in color than cider vinegar. I have seen much thicker fish sauce but have not tried it as I keep anchovies on hand to intensify flavor when needed. In a pinch, to give the dressing the proper consistency, you can use chicken stock with a dash of sea salt.

To serve, add the peanuts and toss to mix.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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