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I have an excellent recipe for satay chicken, which I usually accompany with coconut rice. Last time, I also attempted a kind of Asian coleslaw of white cabbage, chilli, carrot and lime juice, but it didn't turn out all that well.

Can anyone suggest a suitable accompaniment, preferably something vegetable and fresh to counter the peanut butter in the sauce, for this? The only caveat is that I am cooking it soon for guests who don't like salad of any kind (lettuce, cucumber etc).

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Get better guests. The appropriate pairing is a cucumber salad. –  yossarian May 25 '11 at 14:10
    
Hehe. I would, but they're relatives. Short of joining a witness protection program I'm stuck with 'em :) –  ElendilTheTall May 25 '11 at 14:29
    
Well then, you're screwed. You want something cold and crisp. I'm drawing a total blank for ideas that aren't salad. Even a slaw is a salad... –  yossarian May 25 '11 at 15:18
    
When I say salad I mean lettuce/leaves, cucumber and tomato. When I read 'cold and crisp' I immediately thought 'apple'. I wonder if an apple slaw might work... hmmmmm. –  ElendilTheTall May 25 '11 at 15:22
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4 Answers

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I have made Asian coleslaws multiple times, and they work very well. My main suggestion would be to heat the dressing before adding it to the slaw. Particularly if you're using scallions, the heated dressing wilts it just enough to cut some of the sharpness of the raw veggies. I'd probably make my own dressing from rice vinegar, neutral oil (such as canola) and a touch of sesame oil. Add in spices such as garlic, ginger, etc. You can also vary recipes such as this.

You could also try using unexpected ingredients. I make a salad from cubed jicama, apple, and ripe avocado, topped with lemon juice, olive oil, and a touch of chili powder or cayenne. You get the crisp sweetness and some creaminess from the avocado.

If they're not fans of cucumbers, how do they feel about pickles? Those could also be a nice addition to a coleslaw. Or you could try marinated mushrooms. Either of those would add a vinegary sharpness that would cut nicely through the creaminess of the rice and the satay.

This also brings to mind a preparation I've seen for vegetables in a prepared salad. Blanch your veggies and shock them in an ice bath. Then give them a vinegary dressing and lay them on the plate in attractive ways. This could include green beans, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, potatoes, etc. You could achieve similar effects by serving roasted vegetables. (Either from the grill or oven-roasted.) These are quite good cold or warm.

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It likely depends on how hot you make your peanut sauce, and what you consider to be a salad. You mentioned that you had chilies in your slaw (and some people consider slaw to be a salad), but if you have a very hot peanut sauce, you might want something more cooling.

I once did a very nice carrot slaw (jullienned carrots, left to sit in a rice wine vinegar dressing for a few hours), but I can't remember the complete ingredient list, and I've never managed to re-find it ... I seem to remember there being a touch of sugar, sesame oil ... soy or fish sauce, can't remember ... it was really, really simple. (might've had some scallions added for garnish, but it was basically just marinated carrots)

You could also add some thin sliced red onion, scallions, bell pepper, or bean sprouts to it, but then you'd be getting into salad territory.

...

If you didn't want to make coconut rice, I find I can get a good amount of vegetables into anti-vegetable people (eg, kids) with nasi goreng. As I don't have a good source of kejap manis, I also mix in some shredded carrots at the end to add to the sweetness.

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I think they could manage slaw, it's lettuce/cucumber they don't like. I will be making the rice, I just need something veggie to balance it all. I might just do a quick stir fry of onions, peppers etc. The peanut sauce is relatively cool, just one chilli. –  ElendilTheTall May 25 '11 at 14:31
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The classic pairing would be a cucumber salad, but that's out based on your constraints. I think you probably want the same characteristics as the salad though. You want crisp and cold, but with plenty of moisture (like cucumber). Carrots would be a good idea. As you suggested in the comments, apple might be good too. I would do a fruit / veg salad, maybe a slaw. I'd julienne your ingredients so that it keeps some crunch (rather than shredding for a slaw).

The cucumber salad has a tangy sweet aspect to it which is a nice counter point to the peanut sauce. So check out some recipes for the Thai Cucumber Salad and use that for whatever ingredients you pick, but the basics are rice vinegar and sugar.

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Cucumber comes to mind. For instance.

Edit: As others said. Apples and Carrots... Why not combine apples, carrots and raisins?

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"The only caveat is that I am cooking it soon for guests who don't like salad of any kind (lettuce, cucumber etc)." :) –  ElendilTheTall May 25 '11 at 12:21
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