Cabbage is chock full of nutrients including vitamin C and indoles, important cancer-fighting compounds. In addition, red cabbage also contains anthocyanins, the purple pigment with strong antioxidant activity commonly found in blueberries. In the winter months, cabbage is an abundant nutritional resource when other fresh produce is either expensive or unavailable. This recipe calls for a lot of salt, but it is used in this dish to soften the cabbage. Then it is thoroughly rinsed off so the recipe doesn't provide too much sodium. This coleslaw is colorful and makes a delightful accompaniment to any meal, fish or vegetarian main dish. The garnish of minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds brings out the flavor of the slaw and adds additional crunch.
1 medium head green cabbage
1 medium head red cabbage
3 tablespoons sea salt
3 large carrots
1/4 cup minced scallions
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dark-roasted sesame oil
- Discard the outer leaves of cabbages. Cut heads in quarters; remove and discard cores. Slice cabbage thinly or shred in a food processor. Layer the cabbage in a large bowl with the sea salt. Toss to distribute salt evenly and let cabbage sit for 1 hour to soften.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots and grate them into thin shreds.
- Drain off any liquid produced by the cabbage and rinse the cabbage well in several changes of cold water to remove excess salt. Taste the cabbage; if it is still too salty, rinse it again.
- Add carrots to the cabbage and mix well.
- Whisk the rice vinegar, brown sugar and sesame oil together in a small bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the cabbage and mix well. Let chill.
Garnish with minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds before serving.
Food as Medicine: When cabbage is sliced or chopped, anti-carcinogenic compounds called glucosinolates are formed, but cooking denatures the enzyme that creates these compounds, stopping their production. So to maximize its healthful properties, cabbage should be eaten raw (as in this recipe) or cooked for less than five minutes.