My husband says things like, “You know what I’d like to have for dinner?” and I say, “What’s that?” and he says, “That Peruvian coleslaw that you make…with fish tacos.” And that’s when I have to remind him that we are still in Central Texas where there is no mahi-mahi or (for that matter) any other great “fish taco” fish. For that reason alone, he won’t be getting fish tacos. So he asks me to make this Peruvian coleslaw back in October annnnnd…I just made it today. First of all, I didn’t say when I’d make it; I just said that I would.
Newsflash: I’m not Peruvian. Also, I’ve never been to Peru. We have a few Peruvian friends, though; and the Soldier has gone to Peru, so- close enough. I have no idea if this is a “legit” Peruvian dish, but those who are from that area of the world have signed off on it, so I’m okay with sharing as such.
It’s one of those dishes that you should have in your culinary back pocket. It’s easy to assemble, it gives you options (like using bagged coleslaw mix), and it’s freaking delicious. I made this batch with green cabbage, but I love to use a mix of purple and green on occasion. Adding different ingredients like jicama, radish and other cabbages is also a thing with this recipe.
The production portion of this recipe focuses on slicing and chopping. Grab a sharp chef’s knife and your cutting board and cut your head of green cabbage in half. Depending on how you handle seasoning, you want between five and six cups of shredded cabbage. The less cabbage, the more dressing you’ll end up with- savvy? So, that’s about two eight-ounce bags of prepared coleslaw/cabbage. If you’re looking to make it a multi-colored slaw (with green and purple cabbage), look for two small heads of both varieties. I chopped this massive head of cabbage in half and plan to use the other half for sautéing with some onions and bacon.
After you cut your cabbage in half, cut it again in fourths. I don’t use a box grater because, to me, they’re more trouble than they’re worth for this job. You can use one if you want to, just shred the cabbage. A food processor is also something you can use to shred your cabbage: just use your large grater attachment. For now, I’m going to show you how to use a knife.
Turn the quarter of cabbage with the pointed end parallel to you and begin slicing it thinly. You don’t want your cabbage to be too thick as it will take longer for the dressing to work its way into the veg. A nice, thin slice is what you want to achieve. Put the shredded cabbage into a large mixing bowl. You may use a stainless steel bowl for mixing, but be advised: you’ll need to transfer it to a non-reactive ceramic, glass, or plastic bowl to marinate. Because citrus juice is acidic, it could have a slight reaction to the metal in a bowl and may impart a tinny aftertaste to the finished slaw.
Now, shred or julienne your carrots the same way you did your cabbage (using a grater, food processor, or knife). The carrots add a touch of sweetness to this coleslaw. They can be replaced with jicama (but that won’t offer much color). I have often added both carrots and jicama.
To create the dressing, roughly chop red bell peppers, a small jalapeño pepper, onions, a clove of garlic, and cilantro. “Roughly chop” is just what it sounds like, run your knife through the vegetable with no concern for size or uniformity. You’ll soon see why.
This is the reason we’re not concerned with uniformity- we’re going to blend them up. Begin by putting the garlic and onions into your food processor or blender. We need to blend these two things a little finer than the others because of how pungent they taste. No one likes to bite into a huge hunk of onion or garlic, no matter how much they love them. After you’ve pulsed them together for a minute, add both of the peppers. Pulse again to break up them up, then add the cilantro leaves. Blend together until the mixture resembles a pico de gallo, or a thick salsa.
Add the lime juice and the salt. Leave the food processor running as you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. This will create a beautiful emulsion of the oil and juice. Your dressing is now done! I’m telling you, this is one of the easiest dishes you’ll ever make. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt, if needed.
So, in that large large stainless steel or ceramic bowl that’s holding your cabbage, pour in your finished dressing.
Grab a pair of tongs, and use them to toss the veggies in the dressing. Because we want the cabbage to be broken down by the acid in the lime juice, we need to make sure it’s coated completely in the dressing.
Finally, transfer it to a pretty little serving bowl and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes prior to serving. You can even leave it to sit, refrigerated, for up to twenty-four hours. The longer, the better, because it means that dressing is deepening in flavor.
I typically like to serve this coleslaw alongside some type of grilled meat. Instead of putting a big ol’ bowl on the table, I serve up individual portions in these four ounce ramekins. My family or guests just grab a dish and off they go to crunchland.
Pin this recipe for this BBQ-friendly accompaniment and make sure you make it for your loved ones sooner than I did.
This slaw may be prepared a day in advanced. The longer it's allowed to sit the deeper the flavors will be.
- 2 lbs green cabbage about 6 cups, or a mix of purple and green cabbages, shredded
- 2 large carrots shredded
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1/2 large onion 1 cup, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper about 1 1/4 cup, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper 1 tbsp, deseeded and roughly chopped- optional
- 1 bunch cilantro 1 cup, chopped
- 2 limes juiced (1/4 cup)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- Put the shredded cabbage and carrots into a large large stainless steel,or ceramic, bowl.
- Add the garlic and onion to the bowl of your food processor or blender. Pulse them together for 1 minute, then add both of the peppers. Pulse again to break up the peppers.
- Add the cilantro leaves, and blend this together until the mixture resembles a pico de gallo, or a thick salsa.
- Now, add the lime juice and the salt. Leave the food processor running as you slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
- Finally, add the salt to the mixture and pulse for thirty seconds- just to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the cabbage and carrots. Use a pair of tongs to toss the veggies in the dressing to make sure the veggies are fully coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt, if desired.
- Transfer to a non-reactive ceramic or glass bowl, and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes prior to serving. The longer it sits the better the flavors will become.
- Serve directly from the bowl or dish the coleslaw into four ounce ramekins. This slaw will be great for three days after preparation.
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Pair this coleslaw with these great entrees: