Our best coleslaw recipe is made with purple cabbage and pickled pink shallots and has more colour, texture and tang than the average coleslaw thanks to the crunchy cabbage and zingy pickles. This colourful coleslaw is a feast for the eyes and is as delicious as it looks. It’s a fantastic side to schnitzel, burgers and barbecue.
My best coleslaw recipe makes one of the best barbecue sides – along with a potato in foil buried deep in the coals and topped with sour cream and chives, yum. It will also make you the ultimate picnic salad. All those bold bright colours just scream summer.
And summer is in the air! Despite the sweltering dry Cambodian ‘summer’ of March and April being over and the wet season having well and truly started this month. It’s been the wettest May that I can remember, with cooler nights following early evening downpours.
It’s been so cool, Cambodians have been wearing cardigans and jackets at night. Oh, so how ‘cool’ has it been? Um… 24 degrees Celsius… which for our American readers is 75 degrees Fahrenheit… I know. We’re well and truly acclimatised.
Maybe it’s the clarity of the light and clear blue skies after so many cloudy days, but today it feels like late spring in Sydney, when you know summer is just around the corner. That explains why I’ve been making salads, even if the German potato salad recipe I shared with you yesterday was a warm potato salad.
But let me tell you about my best coleslaw recipe, which is a cold salad, and one of my favourite cabbage recipes. Made with white or green cabbage, purple cabbage and pink onion pickles, it has more colour, texture and tang than the average coleslaw courtesy of that crunchy cabbage and zingy pickles.
It’s a lively vibrant salad that will brighten any plate – a brilliant side to chicken schnitzel, burgers or barbecued meats – and is perfect for a late spring picnic or summer barbecue. And it takes just minutes to make, so forget the supermarket slaw.
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Best Coleslaw Recipe with Purple Cabbage, Crunchy Carrot and Pickled Pink Shallots
Like my potato salads, my best coleslaw recipe is another reminder of making salads with my mother as a kid for backyard barbecues. However, there’s another coleslaw that stands out more from my childhood and it’s not a homemade coleslaw. I bet you can guess what it is.
As a child growing up in Sydney with both parents working, school holidays – if mum and dad weren’t taking taking time off and taking us away – was split between my Russian and Australian grandparents. My Aussie grandparents loved nothing better than a Sunday drive to the countryside or up to the Blue Mountains.
Lunch was a treat of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yes, those were the days before everything was abbreviated and became ‘KFC’; the days when “the wheels were talking”, willing us to stop at the red and white house of fried chicken.
Nanna and pop would buy a huge barrel of the stuff – my pop was a big man with a big appetite; a former farmer turned landscape gardener who worked outdoors every day – along with all the sides: the soft buns, fluffy mashed potatoes, gravy, and creamy coleslaw.
Even as a child, the coleslaw was way too creamy, soft and sweet for me (although I have to confess I loved nothing more than dunking the buns into the mash and gravy), and it was also so unappetisingly white.
As an adult, I’ve always preferred my coleslaw to have more texture, tang and colour, and my best coleslaw recipe reflects that. However, it’s a very versatile recipe, which you can really make your own. Let me tell you how.
I love the combination of white or green cabbage (Chinese cabbage, napa, savoy, they all work) and purple cabbage, also called red cabbage, for the colour as much as the texture. The white/green cabbage softens a little after you dress the cabbage and carrot, while the purple cabbage remains crunchy, giving the salad great texture.
But if you prefer your coleslaw to be creamier and softer, reduce the amount of purple cabbage by half and double the amount of white or green cabbage, make the coleslaw a day ahead, double the amount of mayonnaise, and refrigerate the coleslaw so it softens.
And if you prefer less tang and more sweetness, simply reduce the amounts of vinegar and mustard, and add a little fine-grained sugar. More tips to making our best coleslaw recipe below.
Tips to Making our Best Coleslaw Recipe with Purple Cabbage, Crunchy Carrot and Pickled Pink Shallots
Just a few tips to making our best coleslaw recipe as it’s super easy and comes together within minutes. Let’s start with the key ingredient, the cabbage.
I use half a head of each cabbage and they’re small heads of cabbage. After shredding them, they weigh 300 grams each. There are only two of us and that makes enough for big sides for two meals, so it would feed four easily. If you’re feeding a group use the full heads of cabbage and double the other ingredients.
To prep your cabbage, remove any damaged outer leaves, and core your cabbage. When it comes to shredding the cabbage, I use a sharp knife to finely slice it, however, you can use a mandoline.
For shredding the carrots, you want a coarse shred or julienne. I use a nifty little tool that’s tremendously popular here in Southeast Asia for making salads. I buy them from the markets for $1 each and used to give them as gifts to my culinary travel clients.
What you will find on Amazon are serrated julienne peelers, which are a bit same same but different, as we say here. While they will do the job, this is what you want. Otherwise, a good old-fashioned box grater or a food processor with a shredding attachment.
Follow this recipe for pink pickled shallots if you don’t any. It’s a quick pickled recipe, which is best made the day before, but will be just fine if you make them the day of the coleslaw.
If you are preparing the coleslaw a day ahead, make the coleslaw with the white/green cabbage, carrot and dressing only, and keep the purple cabbage and pink pickles separate to the rest of the salad and add those at the last minute, otherwise you may end up with a pinky-purple coloured coleslaw. You’ll also get a great combination of soft and crunchy textures.
The measurements for the coleslaw dressing in our best coleslaw recipe make a light dressing because if you use a creamy mayonnaise you shouldn’t need a lot of the stuff. We love Hellmann’s creamy mayonnaise or the Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise.
If you prefer a creamier coleslaw, double the amount, and pour it in and combine it gradually. If you have any leftover, it will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days.
Best Coleslaw Recipe with Purple Cabbage, Crunchy Carrot and Pickled Pink Shallots
- 300 g white cabbage - cored, shredded
- 300 g purple cabbage - cored, shredded
- 300 g carrots - peeled, shredded
- 1 small purple shallot - sliced, pickled
- 1 bunch dill - finely chopped
- 2 tbsp creamy mayonnaise
- 1 tsp wholegrain grain mustard
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp fine sugar - optional
- After shredding your vegetables and finely chopping your dill, transfer the veggies and herbs to a big mixing bowl and combine them well.
- Make your coleslaw dressing in a measuring jug with spout, by combining the creamy mayonnaise, wholegrain grain mustard, white wine vinegar, sea salt, and white pepper. Stir together well, then taste and adjust for your palate. If it’s not creamy enough for you, add a little more mayonnaise. If it’s too sharp, add the optional sugar. Stir again well to combine.
- Pour the coleslaw dressing over the vegetables, thoroughly combine, and serve immediately. If you prefer a softer coleslaw, refrigerate for half an hour or so to let the cabbage soften a little and the flavours meld.
Please do let us know if you make my best coleslaw recipe in the comments below, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.