Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Buckle Up.. It's the Slaw


Welcome to the Church of the Holy Cabbage. Lettuce pray..

                                                    ~ Unknown


Hello to the first day of Spring!!

Aside from a few of those in the North, it's been a rather mild Winter for most of us. But as of today it is officially behind us and a season full of new beginnings is set and ready to bloom. So what better way to ring in Spring than with an easy recipe for a tangy, refreshing side that is full of fresh flavors? Alright, there may be a few better ways, but not many!

In the middle of Orlando, located on Universal Studios property, I used to work at a huge Hawaiian themed hotel, which, out of respect, shall remain nameless. This post isn’t about the nightmare of working there, so don’t grab your popcorn just yet. No, this is about one of the few recipes that stuck with me since abruptly leaving in a fit of rage with my middle finger raised high quitting there many years ago. Just thinking back to those times makes me want to shut off the lights and rock back and forth in a corner, so excuse me if I don't dwell and share an extensive back story about this one.

I’m not sure of the origins of this recipe. I don’t know who first created it, or if it’s even something that is traditionally made in the region it claims to be from. I do know that it is rather tasty, borderline healthy, and goes great in wraps:

Asian Slaw:

  1 head ~ Nappa Cabbage, shredded
      1 ea ~ Red Bell Pepper, julienned
    1 cup ~ Carrots, shredded
   ¼ cup ~ Cilantro and/or Mint, chopped
   2 cups ~ Apple Cider Vinegar
    ½ cup ~ Sugar                                                                                                                     To Taste ~ Salt & Pepper

See? Easy peasy Japanesey! If you do a search for Asian Slaw you will find a bunch of recipes with ingredient lists longer than your arm, consisting of just about every Asian-esque ingredient known to man: Soy sauce, sesame oil, bok choy, bean sprouts, ginger… I’m sure it all tastes great and contribute nicely to the slaw, but it’s a side dish. And I’m not going to be buying all these things I don’t normally have on hand for just a side dish. Out of your freaking mind…

No, this is totally easy and consists of things you could use for everyday cooking, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you have most of it on hand already. It may not be an "official" Asian Slaw, but who the hell cares? Well, besides The Food Police, but nobody really likes them anyway. The original recipe called for mint, which is one of those herbs I love but won’t get much use out of it if I buy a bunch. So if you want to spring for it or have it already, use it, it adds a whole other level of freshness to the slaw. I replaced it with cilantro because it’s easier and way cheaper to buy. If you want both, do both! Also on the original recipe was fish sauce, but even when I was making this at the hotel I skipped the fish sauce. Some things just should have never been invented.

If you've never heard of or seen Nappa Cabbage, you can find it in most produce departments, and it looks like this:

It's crisp and great for making slaw. You'll also get a lot of product out of one head. 

  • First you’ll want to find a container big enough that you will be able to comfortably toss the slaw. Now get a mixing bowl and pour in the Apple Cider Vinegar and the Sugar. If you've never worked with Apple Cider Vinegar before, I would not encourage your curiosity to take a sip. It’s a little strong for my taste, although, if you do, let me know how it turns out. Whisk the Vinegar and Sugar together and set the bowl aside. Then slice your Nappa Cabbage in half length wise (like pictured above), and clean it! Run cold water over it and make sure you get it in there, you don’t want any legged or winged surprises. 

  • Once it’s clean set it flat on your board and cut it in half length wise again, then start chopping it from the top. You’re looking for a nice small thickness to the shreds, not something super thin. Think coleslaw. Once the entire cabbage is shredded, cut the Red Pepper julienne (thin strips) to match the cabbage. Once the pepper is sliced, you can open up your bag of shredded carrots and throw a cup (or same amount as the pepper) into the bowl. …What? You think I’m going to waste time shredding a carrot? Do you know me?? Next, chop up your Cilantro and/or Mint and throw it in with everything else.

  • Now wash your hands because you’re about to get dirty. Get the dressing, and whisk it once more to make sure all the sugar is incorporated, and just pour it into the slaw. Roll up your sleeves and start mixing, toss the slaw well and make sure everything is properly distributed and is evenly dressed. Once it’s all mixed, give it a taste

If you feel it is way too tangy you can add more sugar, as well as salt and pepper to taste, but you have to make sure you toss it really well again so what you just added can get into the dressing. Once you’re comfortable and happy with it, wrap it up and put it in the fridge. It’s nice and fresh now and totally fine to enjoy, but it’s going to be able to blend and get a lot more happier overnight. It’s also going to shrink down once it starts soaking up the liquid. So the next morning you can probably transfer it into something smaller.

Notice how much it shrunk down in just a few hours.

I absolutely love this in a grilled chicken wrap, or even fish or shrimp. You can also go nuts and throw it on a sandwich. What you do with it is your business.

And that’s it! As I said, I’m not totally sure if this Asian Slaw is even Asian, but it is yum and not to mention a perfect way to welcome Spring in to your kitchen!

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