I have always loved Coleslaw…marinated cabbage has a great texture and flavor. Most of the traditional dressings I find very agreeable, until you start adding all kinds of sweet things to it (no marshmallows or sweet fruit for me and Waldorf salad is right out). Having said that some fruit does go well with cabbage like tart apples and there may be some room for raisins as in carrot/raisin salad, for example. The word coleslaw comes from the German or Dutch or Latin (depending on who you ask): Kohl meaning cabbage; sla or slaw meaning salad, or some combination thereof. Coleslaw is generally accepted to be shredded or chopped cabbage with a few other ingredients and some sort of mayonnaise or sour cream dressing and there is the occasional vinaigrette as well. For this post I wanted to do something a little different, something Asian style because of its clean, lively and simple flavors as a side dish for a particular meal one evening a few days ago.
That brings me to my recipe for this post which is Asian style kohlrabi slaw. There are a couple of basic principles illustrated by the following recipe. The first is that a lot of vegetables can be sliced or chopped and marinated in a vinaigrette and then even finished with sour cream or mayonnaise (or a combination of both) to make a great salad or slaw; this recipe works well with cabbage of all types, carrots, jicama and cucumber as well as the kohlrabi. The second is that the ratio of vinegar and sugar, equal parts, or something resembling that, depending on the desired outcome, is used in many cuisines around the world and represents a basic truth: sweet and sour go together well. (Philosophy lesson: opposites are often two sides of the same coin. Zen is well represented in the best recipes.)
In German kohlrabi translates as cabbage turnip and is a close relative of modern day cabbage. Nutritionally, kohlrabi is a terrific food to eat. It is high in fiber and is a great source of vitamin C, more nutritional information can be found here. Again, this is a slaw because I am marinating the shredded kohlrabi which tastes like a cross between cabbage and broccoli with a hint of radish without being spicy with a texture reminiscent of jicama. It lends itself well to Asian style dressings due in part to its radish-like flavor.
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
¼ – ½ tsp kosher or sea salt (to taste, but it is helpful to add some salt to the dressing)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
Combine all of the ingredients well. The most important thing is to get the salt and sugar dissolved. I have found it useful to combine all of the ingredients except the sesame oil and use that “seasoned” vinegar to flavor vegetables of all types applying sesame or other oils after they have been tossed in the seasoned vinegar.
1 lb peeled and shredded kohlrabi
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
2 scallions, sliced very thinly on a diagonal ( in the restaurant we say “cut on the bias”)
1 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
1 Tbsp toasted black sesame seeds.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add seasoned vinegar, toss to coat. Finally, add the sesame oil (unless you already incorporated it into the dressing) and let stand for at least ½ hour. Toss the salad again before you serve it.
I am sure you will love the simple recipe. It can be made with cabbage, but if you haven’t tried kohlrabi before this would be a great opportunity to try it. The nutrient density of kohlrabi is higher than cabbage and the flavor is great. Enjoy!