I have very fond memories of Coleslaw because My mum, fondly called Big Oladunni by my father, makes one of the best there is. It was something we made often every Sunday, and just like her Pancakes (recipe HERE), I simply assumed it was the default great amazing taste. Boy was I wrong. I have tasted so many badly prepared Coleslaw, I think because it contains just two vegetables, people take it for granted and just combine cabbage and carrots and call it a day. I have tasted too creamy Coleslaw, it got nauseating after two spoons. I have eaten tasteless coleslaw, dry coleslaw, too much cabbage Coleslaw, soggy coleslaw, and probably the most guilty of them is too many ingredients coleslaw, it should just be called a salad. Big Oladunni’s Coleslaw had a method and a look to it. Years after, I still aim to get that look, and until I do I keep adjusting the quantities until my memory signals that I have gotten it right.
I don’t think I have made Coleslaw this year at all, really not sure, but the opportunity came when a friend told me she went shopping for Coleslaw in Costco and was told they had run out, and there was no guarantee of re-stocking. She wanted to serve it at her sons 10th birthday party, and was already scrambling for alternatives. Anyone who knows Costco knows everything is sold in bulk, perfect for parties. With my Aunty Dunni hat on, I told her I would make some for the party, so she can safely cross that off the list. I wouldn’t have dared offer to make it, if I didn’t have my trust food processor to fall back on. As much as I loved my mother’s Coleslaw, grating the carrots and cabbage didn’t bring back fond memories. Because we made Salads at home often, and witnessing first hand the many kitchen accidents that can happen during the process, I don’t eat Coleslaw or Salads at parties or restaurants in Nigeria. Sorry, my mind just conjures up all possible flesh or blood droppings in it. My apologies for grossing anyone out. Looool.
My mothers formula is, 60% Carrots, 40% Cabbage. The carrots were the big deal, with white inflections of the Cabbage. Depending on the batch of carrots that you got, they may not be as sweet as you like, so my Mum would cheat a little by dissolving sugar in a little water, not to be sickly sweet, but just enough that you enjoyed the Coleslaw. My mum only used mayonnaise, but I learnt a trick from my Aunty Joke, which gives Coleslaw a little edge to it – Salad Cream. You won’t believe the difference it makes. So, the title says, a snap and a zing. Well the zing comes courtesy of cooking with Chef Fregz for a swanky dinner party on Victoria Island on my last trip to Lagos. He made a Wasabi Mayo as dressing for the first course and I thought hmmmmn, loooooovely. What hit me was the hint of sourness. I didn’t want a Wasabi Coleslaw, so I thought to use Lemon. OMG!!!!! the combination of mayo, salad cream, lemon juice and lemon zest is smack your face so good, you will just sit with the dressing with a spoon. I was eating a batch of plantain chips when I was making this and thought what if I just throw in some and see. Before I could change my mind, i dropped a handful in. After all, our western counterparts use croutons in salads. Hey, plantain chips are the perfect croutons. I may be crazy, but trust me, this works. Let’s Cook….
You will need
Carrots – 60%
Cabbage – 40%
Sugar – optional
1 – 2 Lemons – depending on the quantity of Coleslaw
Plantain Chips – substitute croutons
1. Attach the grating blade to a food processor, and feed in the carrots
all that done in 2 minutes
you end up with stumps
2. Do the same for the Cabbage
Need more convincing, watch the videos
To grate Carrots
Are you still making Coleslaw by hand. Oh dear. One more reason to buy a food processor. I just grated all these carrots in 2 minutes. Next video – cabbage. Coleslaw ready in under 10 minutes. That is how the 2014 Nigerian cook does it. #dooneyskitchen #dooneyskitchencheats #deathtomanualgrating #NomorebloodflavouredColeslaw
To grate Cabbage
3. Now, you have your grated carrots and cabbage, combine in a bowl. Remember the 60 – 40 rule. The picture below is the look you should be aiming for. You get this right, it doesn’t matter how much more or less dressing you use, the base flavours will be there.
4. Now, to the dressing – in a bowl, measure almost equal quantities of salad cream and mayo. For this volume, I squeezed out the juice of half a lemon and used the rind at the back. Combine well with a spoon. Taste it and squeal for joy. Depending on your tolerance for sourness, you can add more lemon juice if you wish.
5. Combine the dressing with the grated cabbage and carrots. One thing my mother did was to use about half of the dressing to mix and then place in the fridge. This kept the cabbage and carrot moist. If you place the carrots and cabbage in the fridge without dressing, they will dry out giving off a shaggy, dry unpleasant texture. So, combine with some of the dressing first, cover and place in the fridge. If you are going to be adding sugar, do it after combining with the dressing, to be sure you will need it. Start with a little sugar syrup, and progress carefully. It will even taste better after being refrigerated for a while, allowing the flavours to develop. So, if you are serving Coleslaw for Christmas, prepare it very early, and leave in the fridge to chill.
Shortly before serving, use the other half of the dressing, and it will be perfect. Do the same if you want to be daring like me with plantain chips. Add shortly before serving to keep that crunch, otherwise the lemon and the cream will cause the chips to soften to a yucky texture.
6. Coleslaw with lightly toasted baguette is a wonderful first course, especially when it is presented like this. Look closely for the crunched up bits of plantain chips. Also notice my preference, for not drowning it, in too much dressing.
Try my mother’s recipe this Christmas and I promise you, it will be a great addition to your food table, and a regular in your home, beyond Christmas.
Make a little extra effort with presentation this Christmas. An easy way to serve dressing on a plate, that I picked up from Chef Fregz. Generously coat the back of a tablespoon with your dressing, and then apply on the plate in a swiping motion. You are trying to create order out of what may seemingly look like a mess – scatter chic I call it. Make 2 – 4 hand motions and serve your Salad on top. Sprinkle on chopped greens, and voila!!!! Serve with a wedge of lemon, for those who would want a little extra zing.
This is a winner, I tell you. You will have your guests asking you what you put in it, because it won’t be like the hundreds of Coleslaw’s they’ve eaten over their lifetime.
Merry Christmas everybody!!!!