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Slaws -- Cook-off 49

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Welcome to Cook-off 48: Slaws! Our complete Cook-off Index is here.

Summer usually means that we've dusted off our salad bowls; we've been debating pillowcases versus OXO over in the salad spinner topic. Some of us are already making plans for this year's tomato crop. But if you're sick of lettuce, and your tomatoes are still green on the vine, it might be time to get out your mandoline and start shredding.

Our slaw Cook-off embraces a whole range of shredded salads. Everyone loves coleslaw - although opinions differ on whether a creamy dressing or a vinegar dressing is superior. You can have it out here, or make your case for both. Maybe you add nuts, apples, or broccoli. Maybe you only adhere to the spirit of slaw, and make yours with green papaya and chili, like they do in Thailand.

Whichever way you slice or dress it, come join us in shredding your salad.

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We're big fans of coleslaw here: I generally use an adaptation of a recipe from Cook's Illustrated that involves salting and draining the cabbage a bit beforehand, and uses a creamy sauce of buttermilk and sour cream. I'm also very particular about how the cabbage gets "shredded"—I take a few leaves at a time, flatten them out, and basically julienne it, about 2mm wide. I toss out the core, I think it stays a bit too firm for my tastes.

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My slaw of the moment is a Filipino achara made with green papaya like the Thai version.

The recipe I use is based on the version in Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan's excellent book (and I'm not just saying that because they are friends--it really is one of the best Filipino cookbooks out there), Memories of Philippine Kitchens. Romy and Amy's version that they serve in their restaurant is made with rice vinegar, hot peppers, ginger, garlic, and salt and is fairly mild. I had them over for dinner and made it with a sharper premium cane vinegar imported from the Philippines and a little more chili, and Amy heartily approved.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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I prefers my slaws vinegary. My husband prefers them creamy, which means a lot of conflict in our house. I usually serve a creamy slaw if pork is on the menu, and serve a vinegary one if I'm making burgers, or taking the slaw to a picnic or similar.

My favourite shredded salad comes from Vietnam - Ga Xe Phay. There are lots of recipes out there for this, but I've developed one to my own taste. I shred about half a cabbage and a large-ish carrot, and toss them together with a handful each of julienned mint and cilantro leaves. Then I shred a cooked chicken breast - I sometimes poach one specifically for this, but it's also a good use for any chicken you have left over from the previous night's grilling. I toss the shredded vegetables and chicken together with about a third cup of ground peanuts. If I have them on hand, I also add two red chilis, which have been seeded, then minced.

To dress it, I mix together the juice of three limes, two to three crushed garlic cloves (to taste, really), a tablespoon or so each of rice vinegar and fish sauce. Some people like as much as three tablespoons of fish sauce, but I like a light hand with it, myself. Then I add sugar to taste again - somewhere around a 1/4 cup, but going up to a 1/3 cup if the limes are particularly sour. Basically, I'm trying to balance the salty-sweet-sour flavours until I'm happy. I finally add vegetable oil in the same volume as the other ingredients, whisk until it's mixed, and toss the lot together and let the whole thing gel in the fridge for an hour or so before eating. If I take this to a party, I always bring a copy of the recipe with me, since I can never escape without someone demanding it. Serve it with a baguette, and you have a whole meal.

gallery_41378_5550_293178.jpg

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Erin - looks lovely. I plan on making this at the weekend. Can't wait to see what others come up with too. I like a nice slaw in a sandwich with some sliced ham...

Chris - can you elaborate on the salting method. I made some basic slaw the other day and I made a mental note to myself that in future I'd need to find some way of stopping the mix becoming too watery. Presumably your technique accomplishes this?

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I also salt the cabbage. Basically, cabbage in a colander sprinkled with kosher salt. Toss it up, let it sit for 15 minutes or so, and then I put it on a clean dishtowel and wring it out. Voila! Watery slaw problem solved.

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I make a very simple slaw that goes great with steamed shrimp, grilled fish, or even with the old traditional BBQ, baked beans,etc. I core and finely shred a small-ish head of green cabbage and add a finely sliced red onion that has been soaked in ice water if it's too hot. Throw in a good handful of chopped fresh dill, and dress the slaw with 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup plain yogurt (fat content of your choice, but I use nonfat,) 1/3 cup mayo and 1 Tbsp lemon juice, combined well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let chill for at least and hour before serving.

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I'm a crotchety minimalist when it comes to coleslaw.

Salted plain GREEN cabbage (drained, if there's time), thinly sliced sweet fresh local onions, lots of freshly ground pepper, lemon juice, and a smallish amount of mayo.

Now that I'm making my own yogurt, I'll probably add some of that in the next batch.

That's it. No vinegar or red cabbage or carrots or other trumpery.

Not that there aren't many other fine recipes out there. It's just I don't like much to come between me and one of my favorite vegetables.

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No vinegar or red cabbage or carrots or other trumpery.

I respect your minimalism.

Slaw is one of things I never make the same way twice. I'm all about the trumpery, particularly with the vinegars. I love the surprise of low pH, cider, rice wine, malt, etc.

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I'm with Lapin - minimalist

Finely sliced white cabbage, onion, a little carrot, pepper, and Heinz Salad Cream I prefer salad cream to mayo.

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When I want minimalism, I go for a version of the slaw that I used to get at a Greek deli in Meredith NH: cabbage, onion, olive oil, a lot of vinegar, oregano, S&P. Tart stuff. Love it.

When I want something more expressive and expressionist, I go with Jean Anderson's barbecue slaw from Love Affair with Southern Cooking: cabbage, sweet onion, oil, vinegar, sugar, barbecue sauce (I use =Mark's SC sauce), mustard, and paprika. Sweet stuff. Love it.

I have a som tam mortar that I haven't used for a while. Maybe it's time....

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For achara, I salt the green papaya, onion, peppers, and carrots overnight, rinse, and then squeeze out thoroughly with a cheesecloth. I've seen pictures of old Filipina women doing this, and they really look like they're trying to wring as much liquid out as possible, so I think it's an important step. The achara stays crispy for months this way. I served it to my wife's sister's family this evening and got another approval. She thought it reminded her of their grandmother's achara, so I'm on the right track.

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This achara is based on the version in Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan's Memories of Philippine Kitchens, with a few small variations and hints I've picked up. The word, "achara," most likely comes from the Hindi and Urdu word for pickle, "achar," the result of Hinduised Malay influence before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines.

1. Bring to a boil 4 cups of premium cane vinegar with 1.5 cups of sugar, 1 Tbs. kosher salt, four cloves of thinly sliced garlic, and a two-inch piece of ginger peeled and cut into matchsticks. The brand of vinegar I use is Datu Puti, but they make a cheaper grade of white cane vinegar and a premium grade of brown cane vinegar. Romy's recipe calls for rice vinegar, which is milder and goes with more things, but cane vinegar is probably more traditional. With, say, a delicate fish dish, rice vinegar is probably better, but a heartier beef or pork dish will hold up to the sharper cane vinegar. Simmer for about 20 minutes, add one tsp. ground black pepper, cool, and refrigerate overnight.

2. Peel, seed, and shred a green papaya of about two pounds and three large carrots, and mix with three (or fewer, depending on how hot you want it) cored, seeded, and thinly sliced rings of long red or green chili peppers and two large onions, cut in half and also thinly sliced.

You can find green papaya in Asian markets, and it usually will be separate from ripe papayas. It should be hard and totally unripe--not just a less ripe papaya among the ripe papayas. The seeds will be white and immature. Ideally the papaya and carrots should be uniform in shape and in long strands. I've done it with a food processor, which doesn't make very long strands. Romy suggested using a mandoline, but I think I might try the more primitive Thai method next time, which is just to score the papaya with a knife and cut thin slices across the scores.

Toss with 2 Tbs. kosher salt and refrigerate overnight.

3. Rinse the papaya mixture in a colander lined with cheesecloth, gather the cheesecloth and wring out as much liquid as possible. Twist, squeeze, and press down with all your weight. If necessary, do it in more than one batch.

4. Put the papaya in an airtight container and just cover with the vinegar solution. Extra vinegar solution can be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and the like or as a marinade. The achara will keep for months.

Yield--about 8 cups.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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When I want minimalism, I go for a version of the slaw that I used to get at a Greek deli in Meredith NH: cabbage, onion, olive oil, a lot of vinegar, oregano, S&P. Tart stuff. Love it.

When I want something more expressive and expressionist, I go with Jean Anderson's barbecue slaw from Love Affair with Southern Cooking: cabbage, sweet onion, oil, vinegar, sugar, barbecue sauce (I use =Mark's SC sauce), mustard, and paprika. Sweet stuff. Love it.

I have a som tam mortar that I haven't used for a while. Maybe it's time....

Great ideas, Chris! I love som tam, and absolutely adore =Mars SC sauce.

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I change the variety of cabbage in my slaws depending on the main dish I'm serving.

For Asian-style dishes I make a slaw using Napa cabbage because it has just the right amount of crispness and a milder flavor than basic green cabbage.

I usually buy the cabbage at my local Asian grocery store because it's about half the price than what I would pay at the supermarket. The pickled cucumber, also from the Asian market, gives the slaw some tang and texture. I've also added sliced, pickled garlic and diced bird chilies to the slaw. Sometimes I'll add a few drops of fish sauce to the dressing.

One trick I learned about this slaw is that you shouldn't make it more than 30 minutes before service. You slice the cabbage and add the other vegetables, then make the dressing, toss the dressing with the cabbage and chill for no more than 30 minutes. If the cabbage sits too long in the dressing it will wilt, lose its crispness and look dreadful.

When I created this recipe I served it as a bed for deep-fried prawns with a garnish of candied walnuts. Delicious.

2 cups, shredded Napa cabbage

¾ cup green onion, cut into thin julienne strips

2 tbsp. chinese pickled cucumber, cut into small dice

2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar

2 tsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. fresh sqeezed orange juice, (preferably mandarin or satsuma juice)

2 tsp. soy sauce

Dash sugar

Salt fresh ground black pepper to taste

½ tsp. black sesame seeds

Shred cabbage very thin. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage with the green onions and pickled cucumber.

In a small bowl, combine rice vinegar, sesame oil, orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate no more than 30 minutes. Garnish with the black sesame seeds before serving.

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About pre-salting...

I agree with the previous poster about making slaw shortly before eating it. That way you don't have to salt it first, and it's crisp and fresh tasting. This may just be personal taste, but I've never found letting slaw marinate in dressing to be an improvement. However, if I need to make slaw way ahead, I find that pre-salting does help keep the cabbage from getting limp or soggy, and helps keep the dressing from getting watery.

I shred the cabbage and salt it in layers in a colander. Then I press it by putting a large bowl on top of the slaw and filling that bowl with water. I let it sit for at least an hour before adding other ingredients and dressing it. I haven't found it necessary to squeeze out any moisture after doing this, or rinse out the salt. However, I don't add further salt until I add everything else and taste for saltiness. I don't think this eliminates every bit of moisture, but it helps a lot.

I like a wide variety of slaws, including one with green papaya. Recently I added shredded kohlrabi to a simple cabbage slaw and it was nice. I make very different slaws to go with different entrees. Some of my favorite slaw meals: Red beans 'n' rice with cornbread and slaw. Pot-stickers and Asian style slaw. Chili with cowboy slaw. Grilled chicken with Bakesale Betty's jalapeno slaw. Turkey and ham on rye with russian dressing and slaw.

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I make old-fashioned boiled dressing for slaw. I prefer the fruit juice sort, my husband prefers vinegar so I make two batches of dressing and save them vacuum-sealed in the fridge and re-seal after each use.

I use an adaptation of Boiled Salad Dressing, Method III from the 1953 Joy of Cooking. For the juice type:

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ to ½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons fresh juice (I prefer lime, but orange and lemon are tasty)

3 eggs

½ teaspoon dry mustard

6+ tablespoons fresh lime/lemon juice and/or cream

Heat the first seven ingredients in a double boiler and stir constantly until thick. Remove from heat and add additional juice and/or cream until you get a good consistency and flavor. I like adding just a touch of cream to balance the tartness. You can always thin this out later with more juice.

The vinegar type is Method I, on page 498.

I tend to just hand-cut fresh cabbage and maybe grate in carrots. Doing it yourself costs about 1/3 of the price of bagged cut cabbage.

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Our current favorite:

Red & Green Coleslaw

1/2 head red cabbage

1/2 head green cabbage

1/2 large red onion

1 Cup dried cranberries - Crazins

Dressing:

1/3 C cider vinegar

1/3 C flavorless vegetable oil (not olive oil)

1/3 C sugar

1 tsp celery seed

In a small jar, combine the dressing ingredients and shake until sugar is dissolved.

Slice the vegetables very thinly and put into a large bowl. Add cranberries. Add dressing and toss well. Cover and place into fridge. Let sit for about 3 hours for flavors to combine, stirring occasionally. Drain and serve.

Sometimes I add walnuts or peanuts to this.

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I usually make "Brookville Coleslaw" which originated in a 19th Century hotel in the mddle of Kansas. It's sweet and creamy--a perfect side for fried chicken.

Brookville Cole Slaw

1 head green cabbage, shredded (and pre-salted if not serving within an hour)

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1 tsp kosher salt

Prepare cabbage and set aside. Combine dressing ingredients and mix well with the shreded cabbage. Serve or refrigerate.

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Our current favorite:

Red & Green Coleslaw

1/2 head red cabbage

1/2 head green cabbage

1/2 large red onion

1 Cup dried cranberries - Crazins

Dressing:

1/3 C cider vinegar

1/3 C flavorless vegetable oil (not olive oil)

1/3 C sugar

1 tsp celery seed

In a small jar, combine the dressing ingredients and shake until sugar is dissolved.

Slice the vegetables very thinly and put into a large bowl. Add cranberries. Add dressing and toss well. Cover and place into fridge. Let sit for about 3 hours for flavors to combine, stirring occasionally. Drain and serve.

Sometimes I add walnuts or peanuts to this.

I've loved this dressing for years (though I am stingy with the sugar!) -- but find that more celery seeds make it into the slaw if the seeds are tossed with the vegetables rather than added to the dressing. :wink:

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My standard coleslaw, which I keep on hand all summer, is this:

1 head green cabbage

1 cup chopped carrots

1 bell pepper, minced

1 onion, minced

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp celery seed

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp turmeric

Combine vegetables in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Bring vinegar, sugar and spices just to a boil. Pour over vegetables and cover. Leave on counter for two-four hours, stirring about every hour or so; refrigerate overnight. Keeps for ages. Great with barbecue.

For Asian dishes, I make sesame ginger slaw. Sauteed red peppers, onions, garlic and ginger, cooled (I don't like raw peppers or onions; in fact, I leave both out of the previous recipe); shredded cabbage, minced carrots. Dressing of vegetable oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, a little sugar, a little fish sauce, light soy sauce.

I made a snow pea slaw the other night; steamed and julienned snow peas, with a dressing of olive oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and a little ginger. Very good with roasted red snapper and jasmine rice scented with sambal oelek and caramelized green onions.

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One of my favorites is a "Mexican" slaw. It goes particularly well with, well, Mexican food (duh !) like enchiladas and tacos. I've even used it for a topping for fish tacos.

Cabbage, shredded

English (seedless) cucumber, cut into thin strips (recipe says to peel & seed, I usually don't bother)

1 small onion, diced fine

Cilantro, chopped (to taste)

Dressing

Olive oil

Fresh squeezed lime juice

Garlic, crushed/minced (to taste)

Salt & Pepper

Mix veggies, dress right before serving. Adjust seasonings, amount of cilantro to taste. The ratio of EVOO to lime juice is like 2:1 or so, maybe a little heavier on the lime juice. Really, it's all to taste.

This is so refreshing, and so light, and as I said, a wonderful compliment to Mexican/Southwestern foods.

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