This is not a traditional mayonnaise-based coleslaw, but rather a lighter, oriental inflected “fusion” slaw. This dish is easiest to make using a Japanese mandolin (fixed blade slicer, not the string instrument) called a “benriner.” The three combs it comes with (1 mm, 2mm, 5mm in width) makes nice clean shreds that are square or rectangular in cross section, providing extra crunch and longevity to whatever you shred. It can also slice vegetables thinly enough to see through. If you do not have a mandolin, go ahead and grate the vegetables on the large hole of a box grater, or use a good sharp knife to cut matchsticks. Whatever you do, try to get all the ingredients cut to the same size.
1/2 head of bok choy or 2 heads baby bok choy (enough to yield 2 cups)
Tops from the above
2 medium carrots, peeled
2-3 broccoli stems, bases trimmed and peeled
1/2 – 1 cup dressing (recipe follows)
Cut the bok choy, carrots, and broccoli stems into the same size using whatever method you wish (mandolin, grater, knife). Shoot for pieces that are 1 inch in length by 1/16 or 1/8 of an inch thick.
Stack the bok choy leaves one atop the other, and then roll them into a tight cylinder. Use a sharp knife to slice them finely across the diameter of the cylinder(around 1/8th inch wide is good). Reserve.
Toss the choy, carrots, and broccoli stems to mix. Dress with just enough dressing to moisten the slaw without soaking it.
Toss the bok choy leaves in a bowl to loosen them up, then sprinkle them over the slaw. Gently toss the slaw to incorporate the leaves and dress them.
Taste the slaw, and if necessary add more dressing. Serve right away or keep in the refrigerator until needed.
This will make more dressing than needed but it keeps well and can be used for other salads.
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (to your taste)
1/8 teaspoon soy sauce, approximately – this is to taste and to help balance the sweet and tart
1 cup neutral flavored oil such as grapeseed – you may use more or less
Place all ingredients except oil in blender jar and process until all the sugar disappears.
With mixer running, slowly drizzle in 3/4 of the oil. Turn off blender and taste. This is best done with a piece of the slaw. If the dressing seems pretty tart, add in the rest of the oil and blend. Taste to see if this is enough oil for you. If not, add oil to your taste. This dressing is supposed to be loose and light without a lot of oil.
This salad is easily amenable to variations:
- Add slivered snow peas, sugar snap peas, or bean sprouts.
- Cucumber would be an excellent addition here, as would Tokyo turnip.
- Add chopped roasted peanuts or seasoned baked tofu for a main course salad.
- Use this salad as a bed for grilled fish or meat, or drain it well and use it to fill banh trang (Vietnamese rice paper wrappers).
- Add cubes of avocado and cold poached shrimp for a refreshing hot weather entrée salad.
SERVES: 4 servings (or more)
SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen