GROWING up, I always thought of coleslaw as one of the worst possible side dishes anyone could order. How can anyone presume that having large amounts of mayonnaise mixed into a pile of raw cabbage is a great idea? Even the name coleslaw doesn’t sound in the least bit appetising.
To be honest, I always figured it was something everyone tolerated from KFC because we just needed to have a little bit of vegetables to alleviate the guilt of having fried chicken!
But now, years later, I’ve come to realise that coleslaw is so much more than just a guilt-ridding limp side dish from fast food joints. When done properly, this zesty, tasty and surprisingly crunchy side dish can actually complement a whole array of main dishes, especially when there’s barbequed meats.
So how do you make amazing coleslaw? You may be surprised that there are actually more steps to making one than just mixing mayonnaise into some sliced cabbage. And after years of researching, I discovered that there are four types of coleslaw you can actually make at home.
TYPES OF COLESLAW
It’s quite staggering to note that coleslaw comes in so many varieties. I’ve identified four main types — creamy, mustard, red and vinegar-based coleslaws.
Creamy coleslaw is what you’re most probably used to. It’s typically made with mayonnaise but can also be created with many different types of ingredients. Anything from sour cream to ricotta cheese can be used to achieve a creamy texture.
Mustard-based coleslaws are rare and have a very distinct flavour. However, when paired with red meats, they can be quite delicious. And just like the creamy coleslaw, there are so many different types of mustard you can use such as Dijon, wholegrain and spicy brown mustard. Each type gives a different nuance to your dish.
Red mustard is actually made with ketchup instead of mayonnaise. While not very popular, it’s common in certain parts of the US, particularly North Carolina.
The last type of slaw is the vinegar-based coleslaw. This is touted as the first type of coleslaw as mayonnaise wasn’t invented until 1756. This is more like a typical salad where vinegar is mixed with oils and a little sugar as a dressing for your cabbage.
I find the best type of coleslaw recipe uses a combination of the four to create something more complex. My personal favourite uses sour cream, mayonnaise, wholegrain Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar. All you need to do is pick your favourite flavours and find a way to combine them into something delicious.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR SLAW
After deciding on what type of coleslaw to make, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure that you get the best slaw possible. The first thing to do is simple — remove the parts of the cabbage that are too coarse for your dish. This means that you need to remove the outer layer of the cabbage and the core. Don’t skip this step even if you don’t like wasting food because it truly affects the texture of the end result.
The next step is to salt your cabbage. What this process does is to release some of the water from inside the cabbage and help preserve its crunchiness. The trick is to not use too much salt, or all your cabbage will wilt. Half a head of cabbage just needs half a teaspoon of salt. After mixing salt into the sliced cabbage, just leave it for about 10 minutes and squeeze all the water out, then give it a whirl in the salad spinner. You’re then left with a crunchy base for your slaw.
You then need to figure out what other types of vegetables or even fruit you may want to pair with the cabbage. I find that carrot adds a good amount of sweetness, while green apples can add some level of complex sourness to your dish. Just ensure that you grate the other ingredients or cut them finely enough so that they mix well with the cabbage.
Finally, make sure that you only mix your coleslaw dressing into the vegetable mix no more than an hour before serving. The longer you let your vegetables mix with the dressing, the more it will wilt and lose its crunchiness. If you don’t want to make it ahead, just slice your vegetables early and keep them in an airtight container. Mix just before serving.
Whatever type of coleslaw you decide to make, give a new variation a try. I assure you that it’d be a lot more interesting than the usual! Here’s a recipe to try.
Sour Cream And Wholegrain Mustard Slaw Recipe
½ medium sized red cabbage, sliced thinly*
3 medium sized carrots, peeled, shredded
1 large sized green apple, shredded
90g sour cream
3 tbsp Wholegrain Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 ½ tbsp sugar
1 tsp fine salt
1. Mix white and red cabbages with salt and let them rest for 10 minutes or until water starts to seep out of the vegetables.
2. Squeeze the cabbages until all excess water is released. Then place the cabbages into a salad spinner** and spin until dry.
3. In a large bowl mix cabbages, carrots and apples until well combined.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, wholegrain Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, paprika, olive oil and sugar until well combined.
5. Pour ¾ of the mayonnaise mixture onto the vegetables and mix well.
6. If you find that the vegetables are a little dry, add more mayonnaise mixture a little at a time.
7. Repeat step 6 until you’re happy with the end result.
8. Serve within an hour.
*Outer layers and cores removed.
**If you don’t have a salad spinner, just squeeze the cabbage and then pat it dry with paper towels.