Coleslaw carnival
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Coleslaw carnival

Mayonnaise and cabbage are passé; chefs abroad put a new spin on this summer-time staple.

india Updated: Jul 23, 2010 00:57 IST

The Singapore Slaw at chef Susur Lee’s Zentan restaurant in Washington is fast becoming a favourite.

It’s got 19 ingredients in it, even if $16 seems slightly off-putting for a starter. Wondering what they are? Cucumbers, carrots, jicama, daikon radish, ginger and toasted sesame seeds, to name a few. The crunch, the sweetness and saltiness, the tart ting of the dressing and the sheer mass could add up to overkill, but instead, they blend into blissful harmony. Interestingly, there is no cabbage, the one ingredient most people associate with slaw. But a slaw is nothing more than a salad. The word coleslaw is derived from the Dutch “koolsla,” meaning cabbage salad. Presumably, Dutch settlers introduced coleslaw to America in the 18th century.

But today, inspired chefs all over are not content just to throw together some mayonnaise, celery seed and slaw mix from a plastic bag. Pitmaster Steve Adelson’s North Carolina-style coleslaw, for instance, is zesty, flavoured with ketchup, brown sugar and crushed red pepper flakes.

“It has no mayonnaise, so that makes it healthier,” says Adelson. Chef Steve Mannino’s asparagus and carrot slaw at Rustico in Alexandria, Va., has peelings of asparagus stalks and carrot dressed with lemon-infused olive oil and lemon juice. He uses the slaw as a bed for fried oysters wrapped with sushi-grade tuna. Chef Kaz Okochi tosses a julienne of jicama, fried tofu, scallions and pickled ginger with hoisin sauce to make a slaw that he offers at Kaz Sushi Bistro in Washington.

Slawmaking involves a good deal of shredding and chopping. But a mandoline and a food processor with a shredding disk can lighten that workload considerably. The upside: these recipes require no cooking.

TheWashington Post

First Published: Jul 22, 2010 16:26 IST