This light, delicious Thai Shrimp Salad combines spicy grilled shrimp, fresh edamame, crunchy almonds, and crispy wonton strips under an amazing Sweet & Spicy Peanut Sauce and a light, bright Chili-lime Vinaigrette. On the table in less that 30 minutes!
This Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad (inspired by an Applebee's seasonal salad of the same name) is a fresh, satisfying meal. It's perfect for a summer lunch or dinner, and a great pick if you're trying to eat light and healthy.
There are four basic components to this Thai shrimp salad. Each element is simple to put together, and the chili-lime sauce and peanut sauce can even be made ahead of time.
- Salad Base
- Pan-fried Shrimp
- Chili-Lime Dressing
- Peanut Sauce
Thai Shrimp Salad Ingredients
- Shrimp: Use raw shrimp for this recipe. The type of shrimp you choose will depend on the season, location, and varieties of shrimp available.
- We recommend using wild-caught raw, deveined medium shrimp (41-50 per pound) to prepare this salad; either fresh or frozen depending on the season.
- When purchasing frozen shrimp, we usually go with individually frozen (IQF), head-off, peel-on shrimp. We find the pre-peeled shrimp to be of lower quality, with less flavor, and peeling them takes only a few minutes.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic, and don't get too carried away. (I see you, garlic-doublers.) Garlic powder is not a good option for this recipe.
- Butter: Use salted butter.
- Olive oil: Use a light-flavored extra virgin olive oil.
- Chili powder: Use regular chili powder for this recipe, or use your favorite chili powder if you want to spice things up more.
- Cabbage: Use Napa or Savoy cabbage. (We enjoy napa cabbage for its mild, peppery flavor.)
- Red cabbage
- Fresh spinach: We prefer to use baby spinach when it is available. It is more tender and flavorful than mature spinach leaves.
- Carrots: Use regular carrots; the sweeter the better. Avoid using "baby carrots" - they tend to be bland. Carrots should be peeled and coarsely grated.
- Edamame: We usually use frozen edamame for this recipe.
- Cilantro: Use fresh cilantro. (Omit if you have that genetic cilantro=soap gene.)
- Green onions (scallions)
- Sliced almonds
- Lime juice & zest: Use fresh lime juice and zest if avaiable.
- Soy sauce: Use light soy sauce or tamari. (Tamari is a Japanese sauce made from fermented soybeans. It has a richer, less salty flavor than soy sauce.)
- Fresh ginger: Use fresh, peeled ginger. For easy peeling, use the edge of a spoon against the root instead of a peeler or knife.
- Gochujang paste: Gochujang Paste, or Korean Red Chili Paste, is a savory, sweet, spicy fermented condiment made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soy bean powder, and salt.
- Peanut butter: Use a smooth peanut butter that you enjoy.
- Coconut milk
- Fish sauce: We recommend using Red Boat Fish Sauce.
- I rarely recommend a particular brand unless I have strong feelings about it, or a similar product is so different that it could change a recipe's end result. In this case, both statements are true. I have used many different fish sauce brands over the years, and the one that works best for our tastes is Red Boat.
- Wonton strips: Use store or homemade wonton strips. (FYI: Homemade wonton strips are extremely easy to make!)
Hint: Make it a habit to zest every piece of citrus that goes through your kitchen before juicing it. When sealed in a small, air-tight bag, citrus zest freezes very well, and will keep for up to three months in the freezer. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays with a little water to keep it fresh longer.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make this Thai Shrimp Salad Recipe
In a large self-sealing plastic bag, combine shrimp, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, chili powder, and cayenne. Toss until shrimp are evenly coated with the spice mix.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Melt olive oil and butter together and swirl to coat the bottom the the skillet.
Add shrimp in a single layer. (Do not crowd in pan.) Pan-fry about 2 minutes, then turn and fry until shrimp become slightly firm and pink all the way through, about 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook!
Carefully remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.
In a jar, combine lime juice and zest, 2 tablespoons each olive oil and honey, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce or tamari, 1 teaspoon each minced garlic and ginger, and ¼ - ½ teaspoon gochujang paste. Shake vigorously to combine. (Remember to put the lid on first!)
In a small bowl or blender cup, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, fish sauce, 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice (depending on your tastes), 1 tablespoon honey, 1 clove mince garlic, ½ - 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, and ½ - 1 teaspoon gochujang paste. Whisk or blend until smooth.
Layer or toss cabbages, spinach, carrots, edamame, green onions, and sliced almonds, wonton strips, and cilantro in bowl. Drizzle with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette and Sweet & Spicy Peanut Sauce.
Garnish with additional cilantro and wonton strips. Serve with additional Vinaigrette and Peanut Sauce.
- Olive oil: Canola oil is also a good choice.
- Cabbage: You can use plain green cabbage. Make sure to shred it very thinly.
- Red cabbage: The red cabbage is mostly for color. If optics aren't important, just use addition green cabbage.
- Fresh spinach: Spring mix, which may include baby lettuce, spinach, and green romaine, red and green oak leaf, chard, arugula, spinach, endive, radicchio, and other heirloom lettuces.
- Edamame: Garden fresh peas or snow peas also work well.
- Sliced almonds: Chopped cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, or peanuts are all good options.
- Lime juice: You can also use bottled lime juice.
- Honey: Agave or maple syrup will also work.
- Gochujang paste: There are a number of acceptable substitutes for gochujang paste. Sambal oelek + maple syrup
- Cayenne: You can substitute in 1 teaspoon Spicy Skillet Dry Rub for the chili powder and cayenne.
Kahuku Garlic Shrimp Salad: Substitute some delicious Hawaiian Kahuku Shrimp for the pan-fried shrimp for. For easier eating, use medium or large peeled shrimp instead of jumbo unpeeled shrimp when you make the garlic shrimp. Serve with a slice of pineapple on the side.
The pan-fried shrimp can be made in a heavy cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, but for best results, an electric skillet makes the job much easier.
Whether it's shrimp, fish, or fritters, when it comes to pan-frying, an electric skillet can make all the difference between a crispy, golden crust and a soggy, overcooked one. A skillet heated on a traditional stovetop will inevitably have hot spots: an electric skillet will consistently keep the temperature you set.
Refrigerate the prepared elements of this salad separately until you are ready to assemble the salad. Each element has a different shelf-life:
- Salad Base: Salad lettuces are usually good for 1-2 days after opening, and up to 5 days. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
- Pan-fried Shrimp: For the best flavor and texture, pan-fried shrimp should be eaten immediately. However, the USDA recommends that, properly stored and refrigerated, cooked shellfish are good for 3-4 days.
- Chili-Lime Dressing: Vinaigrettes last longer than dairy-based dressings. This vinaigrette will keep for up to two weeks when refrigerated in an airtight container.
- Peanut Sauce: Peanut sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
How to Shop for Fresh Shrimp
When buying fresh shrimp, the first thing you should do is smell it. Fresh shrimp should smell mildly briny; sweet and salty, like the ocean. They should not smell fishy, or have even a hint of an ammonia odor. (Ammonia is a sure sign of spoilage.) Fresh shrimp should be firm and intact: avoid shrimp with soften shells, or that are limp or slimy.
Gochujang Paste, or Korean Red Chili Paste, is a savory, sweet, spicy fermented condiment made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soy bean powder, and salt. It gets its sweetness from the glutinous rice and has about the same consistency as a thick hoisin sauce or tomato paste, but is much stickier.
Learn more about it by visiting our Gochujang Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipe. These are seriously the best Brussels Sprouts ever! (For reference: Before them, I wouldn't touch the things.)
More Seafood Recipes
If you love a good shrimp salad, our Classic Shrimp Louie is another delicious option!
This healthy, delicious salad makes a satisfying meal all by itself, or pair it with our easy 10-Minute Wonton Soup or a Grilled Caprese Sandwich for a light, healthy combo. Sliced avocado also make a good pairing with Thai Shrimp Salad.
Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad
- 1 heavy skillet
- 1 Tongs
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 8 ounces raw shrimp peeled & deveined
- ½ teaspoon butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ head Napa or Savoy cabbage chopped
- 2 cups fresh spinach coarsely chopped
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 2 medium carrots peeled and shredded
- ½ cup shelled edamame
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- ¼ cup sliced almonds toasted
- Wonton Strips
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro reserve some uncut for garnish
Chili Lime Vinaigrette
Prepare Pan-fried Shrimp
- In a large self-sealing plastic bag, combine shrimp, minced garlic, chili powder, and cayenne. Toss until shrimp are evenly coated with the spice mix.
- Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Melt olive oil and butter and swirl to coat the bottom the the skillet. Add shrimp in a single layer. (Do not crowd in pan.) Pan-fry about 2 minutes, then turn and fry until shrimp become pink all the way through and slightly firm, about 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook! Carefully remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.
- Layer or toss cabbages, spinach, carrots, edamame, green onions, and sliced almonds, wonton strips, and cilantro in bowl. Drizzle with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette and Sweet & Spicy Peanut Sauce. Garnish with additional cilantro and wonton strips. Serve with additional Vinaigrette and Peanut Sauce.
- Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. (Remember to put the lid on first!)
Sweet & Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce
- Combine all ingredients and whisk or blend until smooth.
Nutrition for Chili-Lime Vinaigrette Serving: 2 Tablespoons | Calories: 99kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 252mg | Potassium: 10mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition for Sweet & Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce Serving: 2 Tablespoons | Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.3g | Protein: 3.2g | Fat: 7.8g | Saturated Fat: 3.3g | Sodium: 320mg | Potassium: 119mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5.2g | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg Nutrition Information below does not include calories/amounts for chili lime vinaigrette or spicy peanut sauce.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
- Never leave seafood or other perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours or for more than 1 hour when temperatures are above 90°F. Bacteria that can cause illness grow quickly at warm temperatures (between 40°F and 140°F).
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat or seafood.
- Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove.
- Store food in suitable, covered containers.
Originally published July 2018. Post has been updated with new images, content, and recipe instructions to improve reader experience.
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