The Benefits of Cabbage
I love cabbage, and I love Southwestern Jalapeño Coleslaw. Cabbage is an exceptionally healthy food containing a unique nutrient profile that is exceptionally high in vitamins C and K. Eating cabbage may even help lower the risk of disease, improve digestion, and combat inflammation.
Coleslaw or kraut is universal throughout northern Europe, North America, and Russia. Coleslaw (from the Dutch term koolsla meaning ‘cabbage salad’), also known as coleslaw or simply slaw, is a salad consisting primarily of finely-shredded raw cabbage tossed in a vinaigrette. Not only is this an essential side dish for a traditional southern barbecue, it is also great in appetizers, sandwiches, hamburgers, and hotdogs/sausages.
Here I’m using a fusion of preparation techniques from Germany and the Southwest. The German technique cures the cabbage with salt and sugar to release excess moisture, so the coleslaw does not become waterlogged. It’s a technique used in the restaurant industry so most home cooks might not know about it.
The Southwestern technique adds the jalapeño, lime-cilantro, cumin and buttermilk dressing. I have about 2-3 dozen different coleslaw/kraut recipes, depending on how I will use it. This slaw is an incredibly savory that served throughout central Texas. It’s no coincidence that this area was settled mainly by Germans, Swiss, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, and Czechoslovakia immigrants. Many of their culinary techniques and dishes persist to this day.
If you’ve never had a BBQ smoked pulled pork sandwich with a healthy crunch of savory coleslaw on top, you haven’t lived yet. When correctly done, it’s a thing of beauty. One of those moments that you close your eyes and allow your eyeballs roll back in your head.
Southwestern Jalapeño Coleslaw
- a food processor fitted with medium to large grating attachment or hand grater
- cutting board
- chef knife
- microplane or zester
- measuring spoons and cups
- wire whisk
- 2 large mixing bowls
- rubber spatula
- storage container with a tight-fitting lid
- ½ head green cabbage, shredded
- ⅓ cup kosher or sea salt (Be sure to rinse the cabbage well)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 2 large jalapeño, cored and seeds removed, finely diced (If you want a spicy slaw, leave ½ or all of the jalapeño seeds in)
- 3 whole scallions, thinly sliced
Buttermilk Cilantro Lime Dressing
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise, homemade or store-bought
- ⅓ cup sour cream, homemade or store-bought (substitutes are Mexican Crema or French Crème Fraîche)
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 3 tbsp sugar, granulated or caster
- 1 whole lime, zested
- 1 whole lime, juiced
- 1 whole lemon, juiced
- 1 whole lemon, zested
- 3 tbsp cilantro, fresh and cleaned, minced (Leafy green parts work best, but fresh cilantro stems will work also)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ⅛ tsp black ground pepper
- salt to taste (Salt is optional since the cabbage has already been salted to extract excess moisture. Even though washed it still retains some salty taste.)
Preparing the Cabbage
- Remove the core at the bottom of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage down into workable sizes.
- Using a food processor set up with a medium to large grating attachment. Shred all the cabbage and place into a colander fitted over a larger mixing bowl. Alternatively, a hand grater may be used to shred the cabbage.
- Add the salt and sugar to the mixing bowl. Mix the cabbage by hand.
- Place a colander in a mixing bowl and pour the cabbage mixture into the colander.
- The cabbage needs to be thoroughly mixed with the salt and sugar for at least 30 minutes in a colander over a larger mixing bowl. After 30 minutes, squeeze the excess moisture from the cabbage by hand. Rinse the cabbage under icy water and again squeeze out all the excess moisture. Reserve.
- Shred the carrots using the same food processor or grater as before. Reserve.
- Cut the stems from the jalapeños. Split the jalapeño into two halves. Use the tip of the knife to cut out the seeds and pith. Slice the jalapeño into thin strips and then bunch the slices together and cut across to dice. Reserve.
- Thinly slice the scallions, discarding the root end. Reserve.
- Add the prepared cabbage, carrots, jalapeños, and scallions to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Reserve.
Making the Dressing
- Zest and juice the lemons and limes. Reserve.
- Mince the well rinsed and dried cilantro. Reserve.
- Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife. Mince the garlic thoroughly. Reserve.
- Measure out the apple cider vinegar, sugar, cumin, and black pepper. Reserve
- In a large mixing bowl, measure out the buttermilk, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Use a wire whisk and combine the ingredients thoroughly.
- Once the dressing base is made, add the zest, cilantro, garlic, apple cider vinegar, sugar, cumin, and black pepper, whisking together occasionally. Check for salt. You may find you don't need any.
Combine the Cabbage Mixture with the Dressing
- Add the prepared Buttermilk Cilantro Lime Dressing to the prepared cabbage mixture. Use a rubber spatula or your hands, fitted with kitchen gloves, and mix the coleslaw thoroughly.
- Place the Jalapeño Coleslaw into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve as needed. Southwestern Jalapeño Coleslaw will keep 3-4 days refrigerated.