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Food Friday: The Secret of Slaw 
10th-Oct-2008 09:29 am
That's coleslaw, for those of you not raised in the South.

I can't claim to be the author of this, it stuck in the back of my mind after hearing an episode of Good Eats in the background while at my sister's house.

What's the problem with slaw? It always tastes like someone mixed dishwater with it...and that extra juice goes all over your plate. And that will ruin a hotdog bun, my friends.

Here's what you do:

1. Shred your cabbage.

2. Put it in a large bowl (with extra room for tossing).

3. Salt it generously. (Probably 2 teaspoons for a whole medium head.)

4. Leave to sit for 30+ minutes.

5. Squeeze out the excess water before introducing the mayo.

No really, squeeze it. Like you're wringing out a flannel/washcloth. If you do this by hand, instead of with a salad spinner (which is where I differ from Alton Brown), it will get more water out and will stay nice for longer.

There is some debate over whether one should use Miracle Whip, salad cream, or mayonnaise (light or otherwise). I will say that since I'd eat Miracle Whip directly out of the jar, I'll go with that on my slaw. My mother swears by mayo. My sister eats the shredded cabbage with nothing but Italian style dressing on it.
To each their own, and all that.

This is why I can never eat coleslaw when it comes along on a plate with a sandwich. I prefer my dishwater to stay where it belongs...in the wash basin.

Got any cooking secrets?
10th-Oct-2008 08:50 am (UTC)
Funny you mention wringing it out like a flannel - my grandmother used to put hers inside a teatowel before wringing it out. Salad spinners don't do half the job (not that she ever had one) that a nice cotton teatowel does, apparently.

Shame I can't stand coleslaw at all, really - apparently hers was very good indeed.
10th-Oct-2008 08:57 am (UTC)
My mother makes the greatest slaw you have ever tasted. Which is miraculous considering she is from Liverpool. The recipe is secret but I will prise it out of her one day.

Other than hers I cannot stand coleslaw.
10th-Oct-2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
My mum uses a similar technique to get the excess water out of cucumber for making raita - salt it, leave it, press it in a sieve.

Also, to me, coleslaw is made with white cabbage, carrots and onions (and mayo of course). Cabbage and mayo is just... well.. cabbage and mayo.
10th-Oct-2008 05:26 pm (UTC) - Slaw, baby, slaw!
Another trick Alton has (and this would work for large batches of greens, too!) is to put a bunch in a large pillowcase, clip it shut, and then run it through your washer on the 'spin cycle'. The centrifugal force is enough to drive every last speck of moisture out, but this really is generally suitable if you making enough for the entire student body.

What might also work is to put all of the washed, chopped, salted cabbage into a large collander suspended over a larger bowl, and place a tea towel over that and a heavy bowl weighted with something else, over that. Places like Real Food Daily recommend the 'pressed method' for getting the excess moisture out of your greenage, which doesn't bruise the cell wall structure of the cabbage, like wringing it out would, thus keeping it crisper, longer.

As for dressings, if it is traditional slaw, I tend to use BF mayo, seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of table sugar. What I also like to do is whisk some chili-infused sesame oil in some asian dressing (and sometimes a bit of mayo) and dress the slaw - to which I'll add shredded carrot and red bell pepper - with that, adding toasted sesame seeds at the end.

I guess I'm a shame to the southern side of my heritage, in the fact that I hate, absolutely LOATHE the taste of MW. :-S

Edited at 2008-10-10 05:31 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
13th-Oct-2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Now, what is Miracle Whip? I thought it was a sort of instant whipped cream, or is that Cool Whip?

There should be a cooking lexicon somewhere for these sorts of things.

I have never eaten coleslaw that wasn't bought pre-prepared. I can't say I love it, but I've never found it horrible... am I missing something?
13th-Oct-2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
First, yes, cool whip is the delicious fake whipped cream.

Second, Miracle Whip is an abomination unto this world, but some love it on Turkey Sandwiches.

16th-Oct-2008 02:40 am (UTC)
I grew up on Miracle Whip. I think they've changed their recipe since though. I don't recall there being artificial coloring in it as a kid (or we wouldn't have been allowed to eat it). Now there is!
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