the coleslaw haiku September 4, 2007

Side dishes are apparently a controversial polarizing thing.

As I’ve discovered, there are certain dishes that have that emotional or sentimental tie to people and their memories. For some, it’s dressing at the holidays. Some call it dressing, some call it stuffing…and everyone calls their version the best. I’m okay with whatever because its bread-y and it tastes good no matter what. More gravy, pleeeeeease.

The dish that is like that for me is potato salad. I haven’t encountered a recipe that can hold a candle to my mom’s, which was made with: mayo, plain yellow mustard, chopped hard boiled eggs, and pickles. There were no skins left on and all the pieces were very uniform. That’s how potato salad is supposed to be, gosh darnedit…and I am merely tolerating other people’s recipes.

On a whim, I googled coleslaw and was, frankly, shocked at how there were three distinct coleslaw camps: the mayo-based dressing group, the vinegar based dressing fans, and more than a few of the i-hate-cabbage-get-it-all-away-from-me demographic. Nowhere is this more obvious than in this amazing website of coleslaw haikus that I found on maisonneuve. Here are a few samples:

Shredded white cabbage
  in buttery vinegar:
  one bite is enough

– Even a mile high
  with turbulence and terror
  you remain untouched

and my personal favorite…

– Like spaghetti, you
  are not a smart choice for those
  Out on a first date

As you can see, coleslaw is a divisive issue! In my case, I love it…with a few conditions. It can’t be soggy. Nothing is worse than mushy coleslaw (okay there is worse but nothing relative to this post). It has to err more on the vinegar-y side but without being overpowered. A light dressing and good crunch make the dish, for me.

The version shown here is a Greek influenced hybrid between coleslaw and salad. This would be delicious with Green marinated chicken or seared tuna…or on its own as a light entree salad. With the addition of aromatics and Napa cabbage, it could win over even the staunchest coleslaw protester, like my friend Bollo who contributed a coleslaw haiku of his own:

Cabbage and Mayo

The slaw I will not gnaw at

Dish of Pariah

Greek Crunch Slaw – makes 4-6 entree sized portions

  • 1 head Napa cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 head green cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, washed/dried/leaves removed
  • 1 small bunch green onions, washed and sliced into 1/4" pieces (i used all of the green part)
  • 1 small block Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (red would also be fine here but you may lose some of your green color)
  • juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1/4 cup good (read: fruity) extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

For the dressing: Mix the vinegar and the lemon juice together. Slowly pour in olive oil and whisk together. Salt and pepper dressing according to taste.

For the salad: Combine shredded cabbages, cilantro, and green onion in large bowl and toss thoroughly. Pour dressing over mixture. Crumble feta cheese over the slaw and gently toss to incorporate. Taste before serving and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


doodles Sep 4, 2007 06:09 pm

I come from a long line of cole slaw loving family. In fact sister just posted a slaw on our food blog, Cilantro is a great addition.

ann Sep 5, 2007 05:09 pm

Oh god I love cole slaw. Just this weekend I found a vintage cabbage cookbook with about 20 cole slaw recipes that I cannot wait to eat my way through. I love your version. I have a Mexican version that can be made with lettuce of cabbage that I think is pretty damn near perfect!