I’m always asked for the recipe when I serve this salad. Always. It comes from the Hawaii Soto Mission Cookbook, a spiral bound community book that my husband brought back from one of his business trips. I’ve cooked from it before, but I’ve made this salad more than anything else. The key is the ramen topping, made by melting some butter and toasting chopped almonds, sesame seeds, and crunchy bits of instant ramen noodles. The smell that wafts from the pan is heaven.
I’ve adjusted the ingredients to fit my taste, like decreasing the 1/2 cup of butter (!) to just a 1/4 cup. I added a wedge of red cabbage because I love the contrast of colors. But, you don’t need it. If all you have a is a head of green cabbage, that works fine. Originally, this was called “Samin Salad” but getting my hands on instant saimin is more difficult than the ubiquitous ramen.
This is my go-to potluck recipe because you can prep all the ingredients ahead of time and just assemble and toss when it’s ready to be eaten. Even though the cabbage soaks up the dressing and softens over time, it still holds up better than other leafy salads, making it ideal for lingering group dinners. Also, it makes A LOT of salad. It feeds about 20 people, depending on how many dishes are being served alongside it. Be sure to have enough people to gobble this up since it will turn soggy and unappetizing the next day.
Ramen Cabbage Salad
Adapted from Hawaii Soto Mission Cookbook
Makes about 20 servings
3/4 medium cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 (depending on size) red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp shoyu
2 packages noodles, crushed well in bag (I use Sapporo Ichiban)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/3 cup sesame seeds
Mix dressing ingredients and set aside. Melt butter and brown almonds. Add sesame seeds and toss to coat them with the butter and become fragrant (careful not to burn!). Stir in the ramen noodles and transfer to a plate to cool. Just before serving, combine cabbage, green onion, ramen topping, and dressing.