Earlier this year I read about a cabbage-salting technique in The Slanted Door cookbook. It’s a simple process: Place cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle with a small handful of salt, and massage it into the cabbage. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse in cold water.
Salting the cabbage draws out some of its moisture, which allows it to better soak up the dressing. It also softens the shreds, which makes it easier to eat. I’ve been employing this technique in every cabbage slaw I make now, even when I use more tender varieties such as Napa or Savoy, and I find it makes all the difference in both taste and texture.
The above-picture cabbage slaw contains shredded cauliflower, scallions, toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds, and it’s dressed in a very light, miso-carrot dressing. It contains no dairy or mayonnaise, which makes it well suited for basking on a buffet table this weekend or any other this summer.
Adapted from this udon noodle salad recipe from Self and Epicurious. I changed the recipe slightly, using fresh lime juice in place of vinegar and adding some additional oil to make it more of an emulsion. If you prefer to use vinegar, I suggest white balsamic or rice vinegar, and you may not need quite as much as 1/3 cup.
- 1 small head napa (or other) cabbage
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 medium unpeeled carrots, ends trimmed (about 8 oz. once trimmed)
- 1/4 cup white miso paste
- 2 cloves garlic, optional, see notes above
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (or vinegar, see notes above)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 cup grapeseed, olive, or neutral oil
- 1 small head broccoli or cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- Cut the cabbage into quarters through the core. Thinly slice it, discarding the core. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage. Let sit for 15 minutes. Fill bowl with cold water and jostle the cabbage with your hands. Drain into a large colander. Don’t worry about drying the cabbage.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing: If you’re using a food processor, run the carrots down the chute with the shredder attachment in place. Then switch to the default blade, and add the miso, garlic, if using, lime juice, sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. With the motor running, pour oil slowly down the chute (I pour it into the cavity of the food pusher, which has a little pin hole, which allows for slow, steady streaming), then add 1/4 cup of water in the same manner. Taste the dressing. Add the additional 1/4 cup of water to thin to the right consistency—dressing will be thin— and to correct it if it tastes too tart. Add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt if necessary. (Note: miso pastes vary in sweetness—the one I’m using is very sweet—so you’ll have to adjust the dressing to taste.)
- Wipe out the food processor. Switch to the slicer attachment. Run the broccoli or cauliflower florets down the chute. Transfer to a large bowl. (It’s now safe to throw your food processor in the dish washer!)
- In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds until golden. Transfer to a plate to cool. Wipe out the skillet, and add the pumpkin seeds. Toast until golden, then transfer to a plate to cool.
- Transfer cabbage to the bowl with the broccoli or cauliflower. Add the toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds. Add the scallions. Pour dressing over top — you won’t need all of it. Toss. Taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.