This weekend was food project weekend. Usually this consists of making a huge pot of something or other that can be not just eaten immediately but also distributed into appropriate containers and strategically frozen for future lazy meals. So, not to totally break the mold, we made and ate (some of) a huge pot of chili.
However, I also shredded an entire green cabbage to try out a batch of curtido de repollo. This is the Salvadorean cabbage slaw traditionally eaten with pupusas, among other things. "Curtido de repollo" just translates as "seasoned cabbage." Of course, here the cabbage is largely seasoned with vinegar and salt, so, you know, it's pickled. And I think I speak for everyone when I say PICKLES!! Make some!
Curtido de repollo is super easy to make. All you really need is a decent knife, a big bowl, and the patience to let the cabbage sit around and pickle. In addition, it's exceptionally cheap; my cabbage cost 39 cents a pound, my carrots came from the farmer's market sort-outs bin, and I got my hot peppers for pennies at the local ethnic market. And have you seen the sheer amount of vegetable you get when you shred a cabbage? Even with shrinkage, we now have enough slaw to last at least a week.
I looked at a selection of different recipes, then decided to make a slight variation on Nathan's Comida's curtido de repollo.
Curtido de repollo
1 small green cabbage
a carrot or two
half a small yellow onion
1.5 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
2 serrano peppers, or whatever works for your spice tolerance
1 tbsp salt
Core and shred your cabbage. Scrub and grate one large carrot or a handful of smaller ones. Finely mince half a small onion. Put all the vegetables in a bowl large enough to hold them. I'd recommend glass, as vinegar reacts with metal.
In a blender, liquefy your serrano peppers with the white vinegar, water, and salt. If you want a less spicy slaw, I'd either cut the pepper amount to one serrano or use jalapeños instead. You could also just cut out the peppers entirely, in which case you can eliminate the blender step and just add everything directly to the cabbage bowl.
Pour the pickling liquid over your vegetables and stir well. Watch out for pepper fumes--serranos are hot.
Now let the slaw sit for three hours before eating. This is by far the most difficult part of the whole process, as the raw cabbage coasted in spicy vinegar etc. is already pretty delicious.
The brine won't cover all the cabbage at first; this is fine. Just stir occasionally to make sure the brine gets in contact with everything. As the cabbage pickles, it'll become limp and exude some juice. Eventually the brine will come just about to the top of the mass of slaw.
After three hours, your curtido de repollo will be ready. Eat it!
So far we have eaten this in big handfuls on top of bowls of the aforementioned chili. I also had a few quesadillas stuffed with slaw for breakfast. Both of these were excellent ideas.
- Obviously, you should make some pupusas and eat them with slaw stuffed inside.
- Make tacos and slather slaw over their tops. Any filling will obviously be delicious.
- Grill some sort of sausage (meat, vegan, whatever), put it in a bun, and cover it with slaw.
- Pulled pork sandwiches obviously want lots of slaw both in the sandwich and on the side.
- Make an omelet and stuff it with handfuls of slaw, for a variation on the kimchi omelet.
- Make an unsweetened pancake batter, drop in a bunch of slaw, and cook up a bunch of delicious savory pancakes.
I plan on shredding more cabbage into the brine as we eat our way through it, if that seems appropriate. I'm going to try red cabbage, so the whole business turns bright pink.
Now I really want some fish tacos.