How did we discover Connor’s Favorite Coleslaw? By trying to compensate for the lack of really great mayonnaise in Ecuador. Even the olive oil we purchase doesn’t always guarantee a good-tasting mayo. All I can imagine is that many of the imported bottles turn rancid while sitting in the hot sun at Guayaquil’s port before making their way up north to Quito. All this forces us to look for a solution.

Our quest led to a new favorite salad for my teenage son, a lover of crunchy, salty, and spicy foods. Maybe it will end up being a favorite of yours.

A Coleslaw With Indian Origins

Our first thought was to make a creamy coleslaw using a mayo substitute – concoctions made from boxed tofu or thick yogurt mixed with spices. However, they all fell short when it came to making a truly delicious, creamy coleslaw. Instead, we decided to ditch the mayonnaise altogether.

You’ll notice that in the final technique we saute spices in oil before adding them to the final dish. The spices release flavor into the oil which then adds a subtle richness to the coleslaw. This is an essential trick of Indian cooking used in salads, lentil dishes, and some curries. After making this salad, you might find yourself using this technique in other dishes.

Feel free to add other vegetables to this recipe. For example, grated carrots, julienned cucumbers, thinly sliced red peppers, and slivers of sweet onion are all good choices. Maybe replace the hot pepper flakes with a minced fresh jalapeño. A small addition of minced cilantro is also tasty. You can make this salad as colorful as you like! If you need a great market to buy these ingredients, check out the outdoor Friday market in La Floresta or the everyday one at Iñaquito.

Ingredients for Connor's Favorite Coleslaw - cabbage, lime, peanuts, asafaetida, red pepper flakes, mustard seed, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Connor’s Favorite Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • One medium-sized cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • juice of one lime or lemon
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida, a spice found in Asian grocery stores if not in your own local grocery store

First, shred the cabbage. To get it super fine, I put it through the slicing blade of the food processor two times.

Shredded cabbage - to get it this fine, I put it through the food processor twice.

Next, toss the sugar, salt, and lime juice with the shredded cabbage.

Toss the sugar, salt, and lime juice with the shredded cabbage.

While the cabbage marinates in the citrus juice, roast the fresh peanuts. Heat about 2 teaspoons of peanut oil or another type of high heat, neutral-flavored oil. Add the peanuts, stir occassionally, and toast until brown.

Roast fresh peanuts in about 2 teaspoons of peanut oil or a high heat, neutral flavored oil.

Remove the peanuts to a mortar and grind to small pieces. Alternatively, place in a food processor with a metal blade and pulse a few times. Be careful not to turn the peanuts into a nut butter if you use the food processor.

I prefer a mortar and pestle to grind the peanuts. If you choose a food processor, make sure to pulse and not puree.

Toss the peanuts with the marinating cabbage.

Toss the the ground, roasted peanuts with the coleslaw.

Heat the red pepper flakes and mustard seeds in the remaining oil. Cook until the mustards begin to pop. It will sound like tiny pieces of popcorn! This process releases mustard oil.

Heat the red pepper flakes and mustard seeds in the remaining oil until the mustards begin to pop.

Add the asafoetida. It will bubble and release a pungent fragrance. Take immediately off the heat.

When you add the asafoetida, it will bubble and release a pungent fragrance. Take immediately off the heat.

Toss the fried spices and the oil into the coleslaw. Connor’s Favorite Coleslaw is not ready to serve!

Toss the fried spices and the oil into the coleslaw. Connor's Favorite Coleslaw is not ready to serve!

This article was originally published on May 13, 2014. We have updated the formatting and improved grammar and structure of the article.

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