slaw, two ways

11 July, 2010 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Rather at the last minute, we decided we needed some coleslaw on the fourth of July (to go with our pulled pork). I didn’t have a go-to recipe at the time, so it was back to the internet research table for me. And here’s the thing I’ve realized about slaws– you can pretty much make a slaw with anything you want, as long as you start with a good base for the dressing.

You want a standard slaw? Creamy dressing + red/green cabbage + carrots. A slightly less traditional coleslaw? Try adding some julienned jicama or celeriac, or finely sliced sugar snap peas or bell peppers. Like onions? I like to julienne red onions and chop green onions, so you could choose one of those, or use sweet or yellow onions. You want some kick? Throw in a minced jalapeno or some horseradish. Something sweet? Use honey mustard, or add sliced or julienned apples. Something unexpected? Throw in some bleu cheese crumbles. Want to go asian with it? Quick edit the dressing by subbing oil for the mayo, rice vinegar for the cider vinegar, soy for the mustard, then add a splash of sesame oil and you’re golden. And of course you could use savoy or napa cabbage instead of or in addition to regular cabbage. See? Choose your own adventure, as long as you have the dressing blueprint to bring it together.

After experimenting a bit with the idea that a slaw can go any way you want it to, I think my favorite prescription for more-or-less classic coleslaw is this: green and/or red cabbage (whatever I have), a small jicama, carrots if I have them, half a red onion, a handful of green onions, and a dressing made with a combination of mayo, sour cream, and plain greek yogurt. Mmm. It has all the classic flavors of traditional coleslaw, and always reminds me of being a kid, but the jicama and onions add a little extra oomph. It’s perfect to eat as a side, great for a picnic, and really yummy tossed on a pulled pork sandwich. A close second favorite would have to be the asian version I described above, with sugar snap peas and sometimes peanuts or a minced serrano pepper. I’m including recipes for both here, but I hope you will notice that they both come from the same backbone recipe and take some license with your slaws! They’re great summer food– no ovens required!

Traditional-Style Cole Slaw (with Potentially Untraditional Ingredients)
Dressing adapted from here and here
Makes 1 big ol’ bowl (serves at least 8)

4 cups shredded cabbage
1-2 cups shredded other stuff (carrots, jicama, apples, veggies)
1/4 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup white stuff (mayo, plain yogurt, sour cream, or a combination)
1 T cider vinegar
1 T mustard (I usually use a whole grain dijon, but choose what you like)
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 T sugar
salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne
squeeze of lemon juice

Begin by prepping your shredded stuff. You can use your food processor, buy things pre-shredded, or do it by hand. I am often too lazy to get out the food processor so I usually do some by hand and use a mandoline for anything I want finely julienned (less than $10 for a shitty but functional one, and I think they’re easier to wash and assemble than my processor). I wash, quarter, and core my cabbage, then use a knife to thinly slice the cabbage, green onions, and veggies or apples if I’m using them. Then I use the mandoline on jicama, red onions, and carrots. Combine all your shredded stuff in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the white stuff, cider vinegar, mustard, sugar, celery seed, salt, pepper, cayenne, and lemon juice. Taste, and adjust seasoning and sugar to your liking. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving so the flavors can marry. You can let it marinate longer than that but beyond the 36 hour point it will likely start to get a touch soggy. We enjoyed our leftovers up to two days after cooking.

Asian Slaw
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 1 big ol’ bowl

4 cups shredded cabbage (green, red, savoy, or a combo)
1.5 cups sugar snap or snow peas, thinly sliced
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup roasted peanuts (optional)
1/3 cup peanut or canola oil
1 T rice vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
half a jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced, or red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper
juice of half a lime

In a large bowl, combine your shredded cabbage, red onion, chopped green onion, and sugar snap peas.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, salt, pepper and lime juice until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. Drizzle dressing over the slaw and toss to combine, then add the peanuts and give it another stir. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


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kitchen firsts: indoor pulled pork kitchen firsts: chicken drumsticks with hoisin glaze

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