Asian Style Coleslaw
Summer’s biggest party is right around the corner and ready or not, here it comes. Fourth of July is without a doubt, the best day of the summer. It’s everything we love about our country and it’s one big day set aside to celebrate. I sorted though a lot of recipes this week looking for something new but then decided to go with tried and true, and here’s why. Yes, people love to try something new, but I have also seen a lot of things that look unfamiliar left untouched on that buffet table.
Chinese Coleslaw started making the rounds back in the eighties and it’s one of my favorite recipes. Crunchy, fresh and lighter than most other traditional barbecue sides, it is always well-received and I don’t dare leave it off any menu for a cookout. It’s a classic dish you should learn because it’s fast, easy, and just right for all the parties, picnics, covered dish, and too-hot-to-cook nights you’ll be having all summer long.
There are quite a few variations on this recipe, but the elements that stay the same are equal amounts of vinegar and sugar, some kind of nut and/or seed, green onions, a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw vegetables and a package of ramen soup. The amount of oil can vary widely, but I think anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup is about right. I also like to add a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil for flavor. Want to make this Thai style? Add in some very thinly sliced red bell pepper, some diced sugar snap peas, chopped cilantro, and a generous squeeze of lime juice. And use brown sugar for this version. Top with chopped peanuts and mint. I make different takes on this same salad over and over all summer long and no one ever tires of it. Topped with shredded chicken, chilled shrimp, strips of beef, or edamame, you’ve got a complete meal.
You can buy pre-shredded, bagged coleslaw mix without dressing or just omit the pouch of dressing if the kind you buy happens to comes with it. You can find healthier, and/or gluten-free ramen soup in the health food areas of most stores. Transfer the ramen noodles to a small zip top bag for mess free crushing with a rolling pin (kids can help with this), and then keep the crushed noodles separate until close to serving time so that they don’t become soggy. Serving the almonds, peanuts, and crushed noodles alongside so that everyone can add their own makes this a dish that everyone can eat.
The best menus are ones that seamlessly feed everyone, so spend some time now thinking about dietary restrictions and food preferences while you are planning things out. It is really nice to have something for everyone and it is especially nice if they can just eat what everyone else is eating. Not everyone wants to share that they are gluten sensitive, or that they don’t eat meat. I will host all sorts of eating styles this holiday and I love each and every one of ‘em! My goal is to have a menu that includes everyone, so that they can eat as much of what is on the table as possible and not feel excluded from enjoying anything.
Enjoy every moment of this melon eating, firework bursting, slice of pie holiday and have yourself a fabulous Fourth.
Asian Style Coleslaw
- 2 14 ounce bags coleslaw mix (without dressing)
- 6 scallions, green part only, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds (optional)
- ramen noodles, dry, crushed
- 1/2 cup peanuts (optional)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons sugar or sweetener of choice
- seasoning packet from ramen noodles
In a large bowl, combine coleslaw mix, scallions, and sesame seeds and lightly toss. Transfer almonds, peanuts, and crushed ramen noodles into small bowls. In a mason jar with lid, combine vegetable oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar or sweetener, and seasoning packet from ramen noodles and shake well to combine. Pour dressing over coleslaw mixture and toss until evenly distributed. Refrigerate until ready to serve, setting out bowls with nuts and ramen noodles alongside.