Cilantro Basil Slaw

Softened and flavored cabbage = dang good slaw

Raw cabbage is fibrous (sometimes tough) and watery. Those two conditions add up to a crunchy food. Crunchy is fine in small amounts, but just try to chew and crunch your way through a 4 pound head of cabbage in a week. You will end up with a sore jaw, and maybe a headache. There are two ways to address this issue. 1) Use heat to soften/cook the cabbage. Using the stove is fully off limits. It's been over 95 degrees in my kitchen this summer. 2) Cut/grate/process the cabbage into bitty pieces. That's slaw for you folks!

I swear by Bittman's recipe/technique of salting the cabbage to draw some of the water out, which further softens the cabbage. Once salted and squeezed of natural moisture the cabbage sucks up flavorful dressing. Let me be clear: the cabbage still has a little crunch, but has been humbled by the salting. Ooh that coleslaw is the perfect thing for topping burgers, tacos, sandwiches, and complements anything off the grill.

Cilantro Basil Slaw Recipe

1/2 large head of cabbage, about 2 lbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tblsp vegetable oil
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
1 big handful of basil leaves, chopped
1 big handful cilantro leave, stems removed, chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
more salt to taste

Core cabbage and shred with box grater or the shredding disc of a food processor. Place cabbage in a large strainer. Sprinkle with salt and sugar, and toss to uniformly coat. Let site over a bowl for 30-60 minutes. Press every 10 minutes or so to help draw out fluids. Before you're ready to dress the coleslaw use a the back of a large spoon to really push out the last of the fluids. You will notice the cabbage has reduced in volume. It will perk back up.

Add squeezed cabbage to a bowl. Add vinegar, oil, pepper flakes, lime zest and juice, basil, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Stir, and taste. Add more salt if necessary. Serve!

I have noticed that this slaw tastes best the day it is prepared. The vibrant fresh lime and cilantro flavors seem to fade a bit in time. You could always add an extra squeeze of lime juice by day 3 to make it seem new again.


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