In defense of cabbage

I love cabbage. I know that this is not a fashionable thing to say and I am unapologetic. I love cabbage and I am particularly fond of it raw. To me, raw cabbage embodies the essence of roughage. Its’ crunch and tang are perfection. But, just any dish with raw cabbage does not work for me. I am very picky about how I eat it. I love cabbage- but it cannot be covered in a mayonnaise oil slick. No, I prefer my raw cabbage lightly dressed and with a hint of mystery. For me, Asian Slaw is the perfect way to dress cabbage.

In a good Asian Slaw, the combination of crunchy vegetables-cabbage, green onions and red peppers-with the complex flavors of cilantro, sesame oil, ginger, soy and rice vinegar fuse to create a salad that rises above the norm. This is not just boring raw veggies with a few nuts sprinkled on top; this is a complicated mouthful and it is great. A good Asian Slaw makes every taste bud in your mouth aware and responsive to the pop of its’ multiple favors and textures.

Tonight I made a yummy Asian Slaw-that was even tastier because it was so easy to make! You see, yesterday I discovered that Fairway (and my guess is any good market with a great produce aisle) carries a mix of shredded cabbage and carrots- ready to dress as you want. I am sure that I have seen it in the past- I just hadn’t focused on it. But yesterday- I noticed it and it spoke to me. And, I knew at that moment that tonight we would be munching some lightly dressed raw cabbage. It wasn’t perfect- I forgot to get a red pepper, which adds such nice color, I was able to pull together a great Slaw with minimal work. It was a perfect side for a summer evening.

Asian Slaw
– serves 4
For the dressing:
Mix together:
½ c vegetable oil
¼ c rice vinegar
2 T sesame oil
1 ½ T minced, peeled, fresh ginger
2 t soy sauce
½ t sugar

For the slaw:
4-6 c thinly sliced cabbage, preferably a mix of red and green
2 bunches scallion, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, julienned
1 c. chopped cilantro
½ c. toasted almonds

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made 2-3 hours ahead. Cover and chill until serving and toss again immediately before serving.


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