Spicy Thai-Mex Slaw

This crunchy, salty, and spicy coleslaw is an excellent companion to Sonoran style dishes. Serve this spicy slaw alongside burros and enchiladas or layered in a sandwich like the Pork Torta from my Taste of Tucson cookbook. 

It’s inspired by my very favorite Thai dish, Som Tum (green papaya salad).

Multicolored cabbage and carrots in Thai-Mex Slaw swirled around a white fork
Spicy Thai-Mex Slaw
Author: Jackie Alpers
The Thai fish sauce gives this slaw a burst of umami flavor, but you could always just use a bit more salt if you want to keep it vegan.


  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage or 1 (16-ounce) bag (about 2 cups) shredded cabbage or coleslaw blend
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 3 Mexican limes about 3 tablespoons
  • 1 serrano chile minced
  • A few dashes of Thai fish sauce
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Put the cabbage, cilantro, and green onions, in a large bowl and toss together.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, chile, and fish sauce, if using, to make a dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.
  • Let stand for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld before serving.


This recipe is from Taste of Tucson: Sonoran Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona, 2020 West Margin Press
The photography for this recipe was selected as an American Photography 38 award winner in the Food Photography category. 
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican, Sonoran, Sonoran Style Mexican, Thai
Keyword coleslaw, spicy coleslaw recipe, spicy slaw recipe, spicy thai coleslaw recipe, Thai-Mex Slaw recipe
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