Coleslaw is one of those dishes that evaded my understanding for a long time. A pile of shredded cabbage drenched (sopping, in fact) in mayonnaise, flavorless, textureless, and mushy? Mm, sign me up. No wait, keep that as far away from me as possible. No, I don’t want it on the side of my sandwich, or my fried chicken, or anywhere in my immediate or not-so-immediate vicinity.
I’ve increasingly been suspecting, though, that not all coleslaws are created equal, and that coleslaw can, in fact, be not only palatable, but delicious — crispy, refreshing, bursting with flavor. I’ve been seeing it on a lot of sandwiches lately, in its not so mayonnaisy, greasy form. And so, recently, I have decided to give coleslaw a second chance. And it has been revelatory.
Coleslaw is awesome! Or at least, this coleslaw is awesome. It combines 2 different cabbages (red and green) with carrots and corn kernels, for lots of different colors and textures and tastes. And, equally importantly, its dressing doesn’t taste like you just dumped a jar of mayo on all your hard-shredded veggies and called it a day. Yes, there is mayo in the dressing. But there is also lime juice and vinegar and hot sauce and all kinds of other strange alchemy that produces a sweet-sour-spicy sauce in just enough quantity to cover, but not drench, the cabbage, etc.
The night I made this, I served it with a chipotle-rubbed steak and grilled avocados (more on that later). The next day, it was recycled as a topping in scrumptious pork tacos — soft tortilla, leftover pork tenderloin chunks, salsa, and — since we were lacking hot sauce — sriracha (which I think may be even better than Cholula in taco-land).
This will keep for a few days; things will get a bit soggy, but because the dressing is so much lighter than commercial coleslaw, it will still taste fine.
Awesome, Semi-Spicy Coleslaw
Adapted from License to Grill, by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
Makes a good-sized bowl of coleslaw (for 4-6 people), but you may want to double the recipe depending on how large the heads of cabbage you had to buy are, and how adept you are with other cabbage uses.
– ½ cup mayonnaise (I used jarred to fine effect, but you can also use homemade)
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 large limes)
– ¼ cup distilled white vinegar (recipe called for red wine vinegar, but we only had white, you can use either)
– 2 tbsp. Sugar
– 2 tbsp. Ketchup
– 10 or so dashes hot sauce, preferably Cholula or Tapatio
– salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 2 cups shredded green cabbage
– 1 cup shredded red cabbage
– 1 cup shredded carrots (1-2 carrots)
– 2 ears of corn, husked
1. Prep the veggies:
– Here’s a how-to on shredding cabbage.
– To “shred” carrots, I just grated them, which I thought was easiest.
– After you’ve husked the corn, either steam or boil it briefly (about 2 minutes) just so it softens up a bit. Remove from heat and cut kernels away (I find a bread knife is easiest for this).
2. Make the dressing:
– Combine first seven ingredients (mayo through hot sauce) in a small bowl. Whisk to blend. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (it should be a little spicy, but not overwhelming, with touches of sweetness and acidity).
3. Combine everything in a big bowl! Enjoy coleslaw, possibly for the first time ever.