Coleslaw with white cabbage and optional bacon
There is no difference between German coleslaw and German cabbage salad. They are one and the same.
Coleslaw and cabbage salad literally mean the same thing with the former word being rooted in the Dutch koolsla, kool=cabbage and sla=salad.
The German term Krautsalat shares the same structure, kraut=cabbage and salat=salad. Traditionally white cabbage is used, hence the name Weisskrautsalat (weiss=white). Whichever name you prefer, you’ll be referring to the same salad.
The classic German version does not use mayonnaise and relies on the bright flavours of apple cider or white wine vinegar. It is never made offensively sour; rather the goal is to achieve a pleasant savoury tartness.
Krautsalat does not typically include carrots but always includes caraway seeds. This traditional recipe calls for the making of a quick, flavourful pickling liquid in which the thinly sliced cabbage soaks for a short time before it is dressed an served.
Ingredients (4 persons):
- White cabbage. You will need a small head of just over a pound or 2/3 of a medium-sized head of cabbage to approximate the same weight. Always remove the tough, fibrous core at the base.
- 1 big onion cut into fine pieces
- 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Use a milder variety such as apple cider, sherry of white wine.
- 3 tablespoons sugar. Regular, fine white sugar which dissolves easily. Needed to balance the acidity of the vinegar.
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds. A staple seasoning in German cuisine, their unique fragrance goes so well with cabbage.
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Extra virgin works best as it brings about more flavour.
- Salt and pepper. Use kosher salt and if possible white pepper.
- 75 g bacon (optional). Thick cut, smoked bacon, cut into thin strips, pan-fried until crispy.
1. Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage, quarter the cabbage and cut out the stalk generously. Slice the cabbage into thin strips and place in a fireproof bowl. Pour boiling water over it and let it steep for 2 minutes. No longer! Pour the cabbage into a colander and let it drain. Firmly press the cabbage strips and place in a bowl.
2. Peel and finely chop the onions. Heat the oil and fry the onion in it over a medium heat until golden. Sprinkle the sugar on top and let it caramelise until honey yellow. Deglaze with 100ml water and the vinegar, bring to the boil and pour over the cabbage strips while still hot. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and caraway seeds, mix well and let cool down a little.
3. To serve, cut the bacon without rind or gristle into fine strips. Put in a pan without fat over a medium heat and fry until crispy. Sprinkle hot over the coleslaw and serve.
Garnish: sprinkle with chives
Beverage: fresh Bavarian beer or an aromatic white wine, e.g. a dry Bacchus from Franconia
Tip: tastes best when let to sit for a while.
Photo 1: ©FoodPhotography Einsing