Lets be honest, coleslaw has been called many things over the years but trendy has never been one of them – at least until now, that is.
A salad stalwart of 80s potluck dinners, coleslaw has since been pretty much relegated to being nothing more than a questionable side-order to a greasy bucket of chicken – a lazy attempt to elevate our deep-fried indulges into something that resembles a balanced meal! Thankfully, however, these days coleslaw has made something of a comeback and is looking (and tasting) better than ever! Personally I think coleslaw owes its unexpected revival to the recent trendy-burger movement: after all what is a gourmet burger without a helping of gourmet sides?
Truffled skinny fries, tempura onion rings and umami ketchup, it was only a matter of time before coleslaw got in on the action and got a much needed makeover. Whilst the Western incarnation of coleslaw has undergone somewhat of a reinvention, the greatest evolution of the dish is, however, truly manifest in Asian Coleslaw. An ubiquitous name at best, Asian coleslaw is really just regular coleslaw but with a fusion twist. Don’t get me wrong, regular ‘slaw is awesome, but Asian ‘slaw is simply next-level awesome! Whilst no single ingredient turns regular coleslaw Asian, the star of this particular version of Asian coleslaw is undoubtedly the sesame seeds, which add a wonderful toasted flavour that suits the rich creamy tang of the mayonnaise.
Perhaps one of the best things about coleslaw is its versatility. Traditionally the only two mainstays of the dish are white cabbage and mayonnaise, other than that you can add or omit just about anything. Try making it with some shaved fennel or replace the spring onion with thinly sliced regular onion. Leaving out the sultanas and doenjang (Korean soy bean paste) would instantly make for the perfect LCHF side dish. Of course if you really wanted to push the boat out you could always substitute the sesame seeds with toasted pine nuts, but given the exorbitant price of pine nuts it does rather feel like an extravagance too far for something as humble as coleslaw.
To call this a “recipe” is somewhat of a stretch as making coleslaw is really just an assemblage of ingredients rather than an actual recipe per se. Okay so there is a fair amount of chopping involved when making any coleslaw, but if you have a decent mandolin handy then there really isn’t anything to it. It seems almost criminal that something so good can require so little effort, but it does and I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little obsessed. I’ve been eating coleslaw with just about everything recently, but that’s because it goes with just about everything! Burgers, sausages, grilled chicken and tonkatsu / chikenkatsu (Japanese Pork / chicken schnitzels) – all make the perfect companion to a healthy dollop of ‘slaw!
Asian Coleslaw: Serves 4 as a side dish
- 300g white cabbage
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 2 spring onions
- 1/4 cup golden sultanas
- 1 chopped green chilli, optional
- 3 tbsp. white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. doenjang (Korean soy bean paste)
- Shred the cabbage as finely as possible, either with a sharp knife or a mandolin. Place in a large mixing bowl
- Julienne the carrot as finely as possible and then cut into 1 inch lengths. Alternatively you can use a julienne attachment on a mandolin to do this. Add to the mixing bowl along with the shredded cabbage
- Thinly slice the spring onion on the diagonal and add to the bowl along with the sultanas, toasted sesame seeds and chopped green chilli (if using)
- Using your hands, mix the ingredients until thoroughly combined
- In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise and doenjang paste. Pour over the cabbage mixture and mix until every bit of cabbage is coated with some mayonnaise – I find using a fork and a spoon works best for this