Coleslaw is the quintessential salad in Trinidad & Tobago possibly because it pairs well with Pelau and we all know Pelau is the national dish of Trinidad & Tobago. Or is it callaloo? Despite being on the receiving end of such accolades, Coleslaw is not my favorite salad. Potato salad has that number one spot for me but I wanted to pay homage to the slaw. With simple ingredients and minimal prep time, it deserves to be celebrated. I don’t complicate my Coleslaw, I select my ingredients very carefully to come up with what I think is the perfect balance of fresh vegetables, herbs and dressing. But as with a lot of recipes, you really need to focus on the “how” and not so much the “what”. At the end of the day you can put whatever you want in your coleslaw but if you start with these basic steps you can achieve salad equilibrium.
Salad prep begins with my carrots. Using a box grater (no food processor, lazy man ting) you want to make long deliberate strokes. Pro tip, don’t slide the carrot up and down the face of the grater. Every time you finish your down-stroke, raise the carrot off the grater, return to the top position and repeat the downward stroke. Basically, your carrot should only be in contact with the grater when you are in your downward stroke motion. This will ensure long, clean strands of carrot and prevent the bruising of the vegetable.
For the cabbage you would need a sharp knife, remove the core of the cabbage and cut into slices. This is a good opportunity to work on your knife skills to try to get paper thin cuts. I didn’t get paper thin slices throughout but I ended up with a pretty good final product Now, for the next step in cabbage prep, you want to blanch the cabbage. Pour boiling water over the cabbage then immediately shock it with an ice bath. Drain the water from the cabbage and you ready for the next part. My go-to herb for coleslaw is local celery, it adds great texture from the stalks if you cut them thin and great pungent fresh flavour from the leaves that shine through the dressing to remind you that you are eating something fresh.
For the dressing I used
approx ¾ cup of Mayo
2 tbsp of mustard
the juice of half a lime for acidity
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of black pepper
1 tbsp of sugar (optional)
a few dashes of angostura orange bitters
Boom…that’s it! Combine then toss your slaw. The great thing about coleslaw is that it goes so well with so many things: Hot-dogs, Burgers, Barbecue, Fried Fish, Sunday Lunch… Macaroni Pie, Red Beans, Stew Chicken etc and of course Pelau. I’ve even heard some people eating it with curry… something that I am yet to try. Comment below and let me know what’s your favorite thing to eat coleslaw with or what little tips and tricks you use in preparing your slaw.