The Coleslaw Recipe I Use In, On, and Under Just About Everything


We had a bunch of cabbage come out of the garden this year. I basically made one thing with it, a feathery slaw made from shredded green and red cabbages, apples, carrots, and scallions tossed with a spicy sesame dressing. If you’ve ever had asparagus or spinach goma-ae at a Japanese restaurant you’ll recognize the inspiration for the dressing. Toss it all together, and you’ve got a great slaw on your hands. It’s a slaw that is good on its own. It’s great on tacos. It’s perfect as a side to soba noodles. I’ve even thrown a few big scoops in a bowl of short pasta with a few chickpeas and called it lunch. Prep a big bowl and enjoy it for days.
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Pink Bowl

The Key to Great Coleslaw

I’m funny about how I like my coleslaw, and it’s all about knife skills. I talked about it at length when I posted this Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw years back, and it applies here as well. I like the cabbage to be chopped thin. I like it each bite to be feathery as opposed to coarse or chunky. My feeling that a great coleslaw recipe is created with good knife skills and a short list of easy-to-find ingredients stands all these years later. Equal importance being placed on both ingredients and the cut of the cabbage.
Ingredients for Spicy Sesame Coleslaw Dressing in Kitchen

Spicy Sesame Coleslaw Dressing

The base of this coleslaw is pretty straightforward – cabbage, scallions, carrots, cilantro, and apple. The dressing is where things get interesting here. The dressing is creamy sesame deliciousness accented with a jolt of sriracha (or whatever spicy component you like), and a balancing squeeze of fresh lime juice. The dressing coats all the slaw ingredients and brings it together. 
Sesame Seeds in a Grinding Bowl


There are a few ways to grind the sesame seeds in this dressing. I tend to use my suribachi, a ridged Japanese grinding bowl. You can also have at it in a traditional mortar and pestle, or a few pulses in a food processor (or blender) will also do the trick. You have options!
Spicy Sesame Dressing in a Jar
Here’s how it looks as the dressing comes together, it’s creamy, flavor rich, and the perfect consistency to coat your slaw. You can make it as spicy (or not) as you like. Also, pro tip here, I always make double the dressing and use it throughout the week. 
Ingredients for Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Bowl Prior to Mixing

Preparing Spicy Sesame Coleslaw Ingredients

Above you can see the slaw ingredients prior to dressing. Aside from slicing the apple, you can prepare all of the ingredients and the (sesame coleslaw dressing) a day or two before serving. I like to give the sliced apple a bath in lemon or lime juice just before tossing to keep them from discoloring. You’ll see that in the recipe instructions so heads up on that front. You can get a jump start on the rest of the shredding and chopping ahead of time. 
Marinating Ingredients with Knife on the Side

More Ideas

I wanted to highlight a few of the ways I’ve enjoyed this coleslaw in previous weeks. I literally put in on, in, or under everything around here and it is a bit out of control. You can see tofu marinating up above, I like to take that and cook it quickly in a skillet. Serve the tofu over the coleslaw with a side of soba noodles. A lot of the time I have some tofu marinating, so when I have this coleslaw in the refrigerator, boiling some soba turns this into a tasty ten minute meal – see photo below. Let me know if you want me to write up this in detail. Happy to.
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in A Bowl with Tofu and Noodles


Ok, here’s the other way I like to enjoy the spicy sesame coleslaw on repeat. You see it pictured below. It’s a taco situation. That marinated tofu up above? I treat it “fish taco-style” where it is dusted with a bit of cornstarch and then pan-fried until it gets a crispy crust. Here’s how the taco is assembled. Apply a thin layer of smashed avocado on a tortilla. Add a layer of well-cooked tempeh bacon (Wayne buys the Lightlife Smoky Tempeh Bacon), and then some of the cooked tofu. Brown the (filled) tortilla on both sides until golden. Immediately fill with lots of coleslaw, and I like a little extra green salsa as well. My favorite lunch right now! 
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Taco in a Bowl
Here’s one more view of the taco + coleslaw situation from a slightly different angle so you can really get a sense of what is happening inside. My main advice is don’t skip on the coleslaw. I really load it up.
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Taco in a Bowl

Coleslaw Recipe Shortcuts

I’m going to finish with a few shortcut suggestions here. As I mention up above you can do most of the prep for this recipe whenever you have a moment or two. I typically make a double batch of the dressing so it is ready in the refrigerator for me. Then all you need to do is a bit of chopping, grating, or shredding, and you’re good to go. I like to hand cut the cabbages here, so it is just to my liking, but beyond that you have options. If you have a grating attachment for your food processor, you can use that for the carrots, apples, and scallions. It definitely makes quick work things. Alternately you can use the large side of a box grater for the carrots and apples. I typically use a knife for everything (to avoid more dishes lol), but go with whatever you like. 

If this isn’t your quite what you’re after, browse these other salad recipes, or try this Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw, or this wonderful Cucumber Salad, or this Shredded Egg Salad.

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