I think Asian food is brilliant. The way they balance sweet, salty, spicy, and sour always makes for amazing recipes. This style of food hits every corner of the palate; it is exciting and full of flavor. This cuisine is typically fresh and light, another reason to love it! This Asian cooking philosophy of balance is extremely useful and can be applied to any style of cuisine. One of my biggest tips for writing a recipe is to keep in mind the four major Asian flavors. Make sure your dish is a balance of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. For example, I was making a classic vinaigrette the other day and it seemed too acidic/sour. To correct this problem I followed our Asian cooking philosophy. I balanced it out with something salty, something sweet, and something spicy. I added a pinch of salt, a drizzle of honey, and a few grinds of pepper, and voila, the vinaigrette was a winner! It works for me every time.
This slaw is a great balance of the four flavor elements of Asian cuisine. It gets its sweetness from the apple in the slaw and the sucanat sugar in the dressing. The soy sauce adds the needed salt. The rice vinegar give this dish a sour tang, and the red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger add the needed spice. Not one of these flavors takes center stage. They are all balanced to create the perfect bite of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour.
Most of the ingredients in this recipe are easily found at most supermarkets. The one that might be a trickster is the kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family. It is mild and crunchy kinda like if jicama were to mixed with a few broccoli stems. It adds great crunch and flavor to the slaw. If you can’t find kohlrabi, substitute with broccoli stems or some green cabbage. And, if any other ingredient gives you trouble, feel free to substitute with something similar. Just keep with the theme of the recipe.
This slaw is a little labor intensive, as I cut all of the veg by hand. Directions on how to julienne vegetables for this dish can be confusing. Here is a great slideshow with directions and plenty of picture. Here is a video to help as well. I always find pictures and videos helpful when I am learning something new. When you are chopping, just make sure all of your slaw is of uniform thickness and length, though don’t stress perfection! Cooking should be about having fun, getting creative, and relaxing.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons unrefined sucanat sugar
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots
- ½ medium kohlrabi
- 1 medium granny smith apple
- 3 scallions
- 1½ cups shredded purple cabbage
- ¼ cup cilantro, loosely packed
- To prepare the dressing combine the olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sucanat sugar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a jar with a screw top lid. Shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.
- To prepare the carrots slice them into thirds widthwise. Slice each third into ⅛ inch strips. Next, slice these strips into ⅛ inch match sticks. Repeat with the remaining carrots. The end result should be long and skinny strips of carrot. Add to a large bowl.
- Next, slice the kohlrabi in half. Reserve the other half for another use. Using a paring knife, peel the kohlrabi half needed for this recipe. Lay the kohlrabi cut side down and slice it into ⅛ inch thick slices. Slice these pieces into ⅛ inch matchsticks. The kohlrabi should end up being a similar shape and size as the carrots. Add to the bowl with the carrots.
- For the apple will want to cut each side off the core. Discard the core and lay each piece cut side down. Cut the apple pieces into ⅛ inch slices. Cut each of these slices into ⅛ inch matchsticks. The apple should look like the carrot and kohlrabi strips. Place into the bowl with the carrot and kohlrabi.
- Slice the scallions into thin rounds on the bias (which simply means on an angle) and add them to the bowl. Add in the shredded purple cabbage and the dressing. Toss to combine. Serve immediately or allow the flavors to develop by leaving the slaw in the fridge for 1-4 hours before serving.