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The most yummy coleslaw–even for people who hate coleslaw

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How do you feel about coleslaw???

I’ll be honest – I’ve always hated it.  I just found it bland and uninspiring.  Of course, I was used to the KFC style of coleslaw, which is essentially pureed or finely chopped-up cabbage with a ton of mayonnaise.  Just not much to get excited about there.

This one’s from Popeye’s, not KFC, but I’m sure you get the idea:

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One more complicating factor in our coleslaw lives was this:  one of our kids hates mayonnaise with a passion.  Cannot stand to be seated at the Shabbos table near anything that includes it.  When it comes to mayo – it’s just no, no, no.

So eventually, one Rosh Hashanah when I felt compelled to include cabbage (it’s one of the simanim (special signs)), I decided to find a non-mayonnaise coleslaw.  I found what would become the basis of this formula, an amazing coleslaw that inspires me more and more every time I make it – instead of just being a gross, white blob.

It’s also super-easy to throw together.  You can start with fresh cabbage – it’s easy to slice up into fine shreds in the food processor – or storebought shredded cabbage.  (It’s slightly better with fresh, but whatever.)

The secret to “throwing this together” quickly, however, is a little advance prep.  There are a few “secret ingredients” that really make this coleslaw.  Buy them ahead and toast them up.  I keep bags of toasted almonds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds in the freezer so I can just sprinkle them in whenever they’re called for.

This is more of a technique than a recipe, so I’m not going to give the most precise quantities.  Keep tasting until it’s yummy!  If you’re missing any of the ingredients, you can usually substitute, but some of the flavours are so nice together that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend switching them out too liberally…

The Most Yummy Asian-Inspired Coleslaw for Coleslaw Haters

(serves however many want coleslaw; depends on how much cabbage you start with, but the cabbage will shrink down!)

Allow at least 2-4 hours to let flavours combine and let the cabbage shrink down.  Will keep for a few days, but I usually like it when it’s fresh and the cabbage is still reasonably crispy.  It goes soft after a couple of days, but the flavour is still great, and some people prefer it that way.

Serving suggestion:  This makes a nice healthy side with the ubiquitous Israeli chicken schnitzel, or you can even with sliced grilled chicken on top – instead of a base of noodles or rice if you want to cut out carbs and add a ton of colour and flavour.

What you’ll need

  • Cabbage – store-bought or shred it yourself.  I usually find half a head is enough, even for a crowd
  • 2 carrots – store-bought grated or grate it yourself.
  • Red pepper – you can julienne (slice thin) and toss some in as well, to taste
  • Green onion – julienne (slice thin) and toss some in as well, to taste
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (start with a little less and add more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup canola or your favourite neutral-tasting oil
  • 4 tbsp mirin (Asian cooking wine)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp minced ginger (I use frozen ginger cubes)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (I sometimes use frozen garlic cubes)
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar (can omit for diabetic/diet-friendly version – it’ll be slightly less sweet, but still tasty)
  • 2-4 tbsp soy sauce (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add-ins (try these or play around and find your own favourites!):

  • Crispy chow mein noodles (thin) (add these only at the end right before serving!) OR
  • Toasted ramen noodles (add these only at the end right before serving!)
  • Almonds, blanched, slivered (the kind that’s in sticks, not flat slices!), and toasted
  • Sesame seeds, toasted (black look particularly nice, I use a mix)
  • Pumpkin seeds, shelled and toasted
  • Craisins or other dried cranberries (you can use raisins instead, but I like the reddish colour and flavour better!)

How to make it

  1. Combine cabbage, carrots, and other veg if using and place in a large container.  DO NOT PUT IN ADD-INS UNTIL LATER!
  2. In a separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients well – vinegar, oil, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, sugar (if using), soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
  3. Taste dressing by dipping in a slice of cabbage or a shred of carrot; adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir well.
  5. Seal container, toss well, and set aside 1-2 hours.
  6. Open, taste, adjust seasoning to taste.  Toss in any add-ins EXCEPT chow mein noodles / ramen noodles.
  7. Seal container, toss well, and set aside another 1-2 hours or overnight.
  8. Shortly before serving, add craisins, if using.
  9. Right before serving, add crispy chow mein noodles or ramen noodles on top of serving bowl.  DO NOT MIX IN OR THEY’LL TURN TO MUSH INSTANTLY!

Look how delicious and fresh this is!  I made it yesterday to send to a sheva brachos meal friends were preparing.  I think it looks just like confetti – perfect for a simcha, or just an ordinary Shabbos meal.

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Enjoy!!! 

I’d love to hear how this works out for you!  Let me know if you discover any new and scrumptious add-ins that your family adores.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

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