All right, my dears. I don’t have much time, so I’ll be brief. And I’m sorry to be so hasty and short. This salad right here – please make it. It’s going to help you get through the hot and sticky days of summer. The crunch of the cabbage, the sweetness of mango, the bite of the chili pepper, the cool, sweet burst of corn. This salad here – a keeper. And transports well for things like picnics and backyard barbecues. And I hope that you plan on going to a lot of those this season.
There are many a joke made about Russians and their love of cabbage. We are a people that loves our cabbage pickled, stuffed, stewed, in soups and in pies. Cabbage, in Russian cooking, will be the main event, not an accessory. Perhaps, outside of the potato, it is the most loved vegetable in Russia. We, Russians, take our cabbage seriously. And here, I took the beloved Russian vegetable and put an Thai-ish spin on it. I should’ve thrown some peanuts in, but I didn’t have any on hand.
The slaw is quite a deviation from a traditional slaws that involve mayonnaise. I’m not one to knock mayo, especially if it’s homemade, but sometimes, when the summer days grow sweltering and muggy, it is not exactly a condiment you dream of. Or maybe that’s just me. On the other hand, things like lime juice and a little spice are always welcome in my kitchen, especially when it’s warm outside.
You might think to yourself, cilantro and mint together – an herb overkill, perhaps? I thought so before, until I accidentally combined them in a similar salad once and I haven’t looked back since. Somehow, oddly, they are complementary to one another and both are summery and crisp.
I notice that around this time of year, I want more salad on my plate and less meat. And I know we’re entering grilling season, but still, my heart (and stomach) crave vegetables. Last night, at book club, one of the girls served a lovely goat cheese and spinach tart (oh how the wheels in my head are turning), a simple cucumber salad with parsley and creme fraiche, and some rocket with a simple vinaigrette. It was simple, it was crisp and it was perfect.
And in thinking this morning about the salad here, I realized that in the summer, what we want is to feel as light and breezy as the summer breeze itself. A cinch to put together, easy take along, wonderfully uplifting. What could be a better way to greet the summer season?
Asian Slaw with Mango in Spicy Lime Dressing
1/3 head green cabbage, chopped
1/3 head red cabbage, chopped
1 mango, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/4 thinly sliced red onion (mandoline does a great job)
2 ears of corn, with kernels cut off the ears
1 bird’s eye chili
a handful of each chopped: cilantro and mint
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp sambal olek
2 tsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp maple syrup (if you require a bit more sweetness from your dressing)
1/4 tsp fish sauce
Mix the dressing ingredients in a small container and set aside.Combine all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl. Pour half the dressing over your salad and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing if you feel so inclined.
The salad tastes great right way, but also develops a nice flavor if left in the fridge overnight as well.
If bringing to a picnic, toss the dressing with the vegetables right before serving. Keep the vegetables cool, if possible.