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Help with Coleslaw

I was going to post this under the thread on what dish you can't ever get right, but I can't find it anymore. I can never ever ever get just a regular coleslaw to taste how I want it. I'm great with peanut coleslaw, but I want plain ole slaw like Mort's deli in Reseda makes.

Anyone have tried and true recipes, advice, etc.? I'd appreciate it! Thank you.

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  1. ScarletB, can you describe the coleslaw at Mort's for us? I mean, I know what I think is a great coleslaw, but not sure what Mort's is like...green? carrots? celery seeds? creamy? real sweet? not real sweet? tangy? It might help us help you if you can describe it. Thanks!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Val

      Yeah, that would probably help, huh?
      Mort's is Jewish deli slaw - creamy but without being too heavy (there's definitely liquid on the bottom of the container), not tangy, more sweet than tangy, but not too sweet, nothing but green cabbage in it. Boy is that vague...
      I don't mind additions of any sort, so it doesn't obviously have to be exactly like Mort's, it's just that's what I crave when I crave coleslaw. If I could make a few variations on good slaw I'd be happy.

    2. Peanut coleslaw??? Now that sounds great!

      I make a very below average coleslaw, certainly not worthy of sharing, however would love to give your peanut coleslaw recipe a go.....

      3 Replies
      1. re: DebbieDooDah

        I don't have a recipe, but can try and post the ingredients I use a little later when I have more time. I haven't made it since last summer, but happy to post for you.

        1. re: DebbieDooDah

          I mix together a good size blob of peanut butter with some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, sambal oelek, and a squirt of fish sauce which really rounds out the flavor, and perhaps half a lime. Sprinkle with chopped toasted peanuts. Always a big hit.

          1. re: DebbieDooDah

            Here's a recipe from Epicurious called "Super Slaw" that has a peanut dressing -- it's really tasty!


          2. The key to good slaw for me is lemon juice and celery seed. Other than mayo, salt and pepper, that's all I use.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mcraig11

              How much mayo do you use? Have you ever used low-fat or light mayo, or always go with regular?

              1. re: ScarletB

                I usually use Hellman's Canola oil mayo, but I have also used their light mayo. I have to admit I don't measure. I just keep putting stuff in until it tastes good. :>)

            2. Never had Mort's but if you google KFC coleslaw and reduce the sugar you get a really standard creamy slaw. Another factor is how it is cut up. Is it chopped finely for thinly shredded. That makes a big diff in the way it absorbs the dressing.

              1. My cole slaw is pretty good but it is just basic..I use Hellman's, cider vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, and celery seed...Also, cole slaw taste better the next day...

                2 Replies
                1. re: jinet12

                  Do you have any proportions for your ingredients? Thanks!

                  1. re: ScarletB

                    Hmm...proportions...Well, I will try to wing it...About 3/4 mayo, 2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar, 1 Tablespoon Mustard Powder or 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 Tablespoon celery seed, and sugar or sweetener to taste...add to a pkg. of already shredded cabbage, and refridgerate overnight...It is quite yummy...I am from Texas, so I also add Tabasco, cause we like our food hot...sometimes I add cayeene pepper as well..Made some last night....Totally yummy!

                2. ScarletB, http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Restaura...

                  This is the one I like ! When I make it I'm always surprised to have forgotten how much I like it!

                  1. The basic coleslaw recipe is the one my mother and aunts, and everyone we knew grew up. Basically it's lemon jucie, and best foods mayonaise, with a little sugar to round it out. Made with sliced green cabbage and shredded carrots. I know when I first started making it, it took me a long time to get the taste down. I found that if I start the day before and add mayonaise and some lemon juice mix it all together let it rest in the fridge it's going to start to wilt the cabbage... After a few hours I just taste it and adjust it with more lemon juice, and sugar to get the taste you want. It takes time the get it right.

                    I also make a chinese style coleslaw with ramen noodles green onions and rice vinegar.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: paprkutr

                      Thanks paprkutr and blue! Do you use pre-packaged coleslaw mix or do you actually shred a head of cabbage? I rarely shred cabbage as it seems a waste of time when there's mixes available, but if you all think it would taste better, I'd be willing to give it a shot. The last time I shredded cabbage for coleslaw (a couple of years ago!) I remember it being more watery than when made with the mix. Any thoughts?

                    2. Here's my secret to great coleslaw just like you describe. Go to the porduce section of your local supermarket and purchase the foil pouch of coleslaw seasoning that's made by the same makers as Great Guacamole! I used this the last time I made coleslaw and several people commented on how delicious it was and I agree. Not too mayonaissey, just lightly coated and well seasoned cabbage. Sorry it isn't a more complicated recipe.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Pate

                        I don't mind not complicated :)
                        So, just add some mayo and the seasoning packet, and voila?

                        1. re: ScarletB

                          Whatever the instructions on the back of the foil pakage syas. I can't remember off hand if there were any other ingredients necessary.

                      2. After messing around with a lot of exotic "gourmet" type cole slaw recipes that left me cold, I returned to Mom's best Cole Slaw.

                        Cabbage cut in halves or quarters and sliced very thin. A Chef's knife works best to make nice shreds.

                        Sprinkle with Kosher Salt , Mix and place in a colander to drain. (about an hour)

                        Rinse and pat dry.

                        Mix together Hellman's Mayo, fresh squeezed Lemon Juice, Sugar to taste ( I use Sweetzfree), White Pepper and Celery Seed to taste.

                        Add to cabbage and toss. Keep adding dressing until the cabbage is completely coated.

                        Let rest in a fridge for a few hours.

                        This Slaw keeps for a few days.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Fleur

                          This sounds alot like the one Julia made on ATK last weekend on PBS, except she grated some carrots on top just before serving. It was the indoor bbq ribs show.

                          1. re: Sarah

                            My mom often put the grated carrots in with the cabbage.

                          2. re: Fleur

                            IMO the salting step is the key to great slaw. It draws out excess moisture, so the dressing doesn't get watered down.

                          3. I like my coleslaw like this: shredded AND chopped cabbage, Best Foods mayonaise and white suger. No measurements, just until it is the way you like it. I think this came from my Father's side of the family in Kansas.

                            1. I don't have the exact recipe, but when I was in college, the family of a college friend of mine owned a deli in Long Island, and they started their slaw by "wilting" the shredded cabbage in a paper bag. After the cabbage had wilted, it was drained and mixed with a dressing made of mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

                              Personally, I prefer my coleslaw without sugar, and simply mix the shredded cabbage with minced onion, vinegar, mayo, salt and pepper.

                              1. I love the way my mom used to make coleslaw and i make it the same way. Cabbage sliced thin and then cut, vinegar, mayo, salt, and pepper, all to taste. Shredded carrot can be added as well. very tasty.

                                1. Well, I must say I make a pretty delicious "old fashioned" cole slaw, but I really don't have a measured recipe. Here's what I do: shred a small/medium head of cabbage in the food processor, also shred a half of a sweet onion.

                                  To make the dressing, mix in a jar: (here's where I'm guessing on the proportions since I just do it by osmossis) about 1/2+ cup of mayo, couple tablespoons of cider vinegar, couple tablespoons of sugar (or sweetener), salt & pepper, tablespoon or so of milk, teaspoon of celery seed. Shake dressing & adjust ingredients to suit your taste - sweeter (more sugar), tangier (more vinegar), creamier (more mayo) etc.

                                  Mix dressing with cabbage/onion. Let sit in refrig a couple hours.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: nojunk

                                    That sounds perfect nojunk. In fact, all the above sound like exactly what I'm looking for. It's funny to note, though, that most people don't have a "recipe per se, but you all make your coleslaw by feel. That's how I do most of my cooking, so I understand. Hopefully I can make a good coleslaw this way by taking all of your suggestions.
                                    Thank you all for your help! I'll get there yet...

                                  2. I use Paula Deen's recipe. Don't like many of her recipes, but her coleslaw's a winner.

                                    1. Alan Harding(?) the chef on the Discovery chanel from Brookyln gives the basic prepe to a good Coleslaw. I've read that a lot of people don't like his show as he doesn't give measurments and adds some odd stuff to some dishes, but I use his basic guidleline for Coleslaw.

                                      If I remember rightly its simply Cabbage, salt, pepper, celery seed and mayo - I believe he adds tobasco (?), personaly I swop that out for eith mustard or more likely horseradish. Horseradish coleslaw is so good.....

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: rob133

                                        Vinegar is normally an addition as well. I use apple cider.

                                        1. re: izzizzi

                                          aye, your right. I was thinking that last night. In the past I've used plain wite vinegar, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and the last one was with a grapefuit vinegar which gave it an interesting twist.

                                      2. I'm copying this from a Thanksgiving 2004 thread on this site:
                                        Here's my general recipe, which I had to write down because it has been much requested over the years (probably the most requested thing I ever make: insurrections happen when it is missing from a feast unless I warn certain folks when I am *not* planning on serving it!).

                                        As a general preparation note: I like to cut, salt, rinse and drain the shredded and cut veggies the day before serving, put it in a heavy plastic bag and then squeeze the remaining moisture out, through a small hole cut from a corner of the bag, just before seasoning.

                                        Adapt as you like it:

                                        Karlslaw (this is more a cabbage-based shredded salad than a true slaw)

                                        Vegetable ingredients: proportions are completely variable.

                                        -1 large (or, better, 2 small) head(s) green Savoy cabbage (has fine, ribbed leaves), shredded [Chinese cabbages could also be used, as they are a bit sweeter and less sulfurous that common white cabbage]
                                        -1 small head red cabbage, shredded (smaller heads of cabbage have thinner leaves) - use no more than 1 part red cabbage to 2 parts green cabbage [yes, I know that red cabbage is much better cooked than raw; this is my lone exception]
                                        -Italian parsley (flat leaves, not curly), minced (adds an essential lemon flavor)
                                        -1 red sweet pepper, diced coarsely
                                        -1 yellow sweet pepper. diced coarsely (opt.)
                                        -1 peeled carrot, shredded or peelings
                                        -1 peeled parsnip, shredded or peelings (use less if you don't like its nutty, sweet flavor, but I consider it a vital ingredient, along with the parsley)
                                        -1 or 2 ribs celery, diced thinly (adds a slightly salty note)
                                        -1 hothouse English cucumber (the long ones; use 2 if you de-seed them; even better are the wonderful Japanese cucumbers), quartered and sliced medium. I don't peel these cucumbers, but you can if you wish, or you can run fork tines down the sides.
                                        -White part of one medium leek, sliced finely and loosened up (opt.)

                                        Seasonings: add no more than an hour or two in advance of serving
                                        -12 to 24 fl. oz of a sour-cream dressing of your choice (only enough to moisten all vegetables evenly) [alternatively: 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill mixed with 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or mild vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 tablespoons minced onion, 3 cups sour cream and/or plain yogurt, and 1.5 teaspoons ground white pepper]
                                        - 1 or 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish (opt.; to taste); alternatively, some kosher or dill pickle brine, to taste [you could also try diced olives or capers if your guests will appreciate them]
                                        -Celery seed (a critical seasoning), dill seed and/or freshly chopped dill, to taste
                                        -Freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste

                                        and, just before serving:

                                        -Salt, to taste (adding this too soon will cause the vegetables to exude too much water before serving)

                                        1. How about the cole slaw from The Original Pantry in Downtown LA (80+ years)? You know the place. The description of Mort's Deli slaw sounds similar in taste and texture to The Pantry (I'm a big fan of their cole slaw).

                                          1 large head cabbage, very finely shredded
                                          3/4 cup mayonnaise
                                          3 TBSP sugar
                                          1 1/2 TBSP white wine vinegar
                                          1/3 cup oil
                                          1/8 tsp garlic powder
                                          1/8 tsp onion powder
                                          1/8 tsp dry mustard
                                          1/8 tsp celery salt
                                          Dash black pepper
                                          1 TBSP lemon juice
                                          1/2 cup half and half
                                          1/4 tsp salt

                                          Blend together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and oil. Add garlic and onion powders, mustard, celery salt, pepper, lemon juice, half and half and salt. Stir until smooth. Pour over cabbage in a large bowl and toss until cabbage is well coated. Makes 8 to 10 servings

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: monku

                                            Thanks Monku. That sounds good, although I'm not sure about adding that much oil. It seems, based on everyone else's recipes, that oil isn't really necessary. Sounds like a good indulgent slaw though. And, 80+ years means something!

                                            1. re: ScarletB

                                              Doesn't seem that "oily" and I've made it at home several times.

                                              You're fortunate to live in LA-shoot down to the Pantry sometime and try it out. They're proud of it and the masses to like it. They give you a nice heaping portion prior to your lunch or dinner entree (not those little portion cups they give you at the delis) which goes fantastic with their sourdough bread and butter. I've found if you want another serving they'll oblige you at no charge.


                                              1. re: monku

                                                I actually don't live in LA anymore - just grew up there. Have been a Pacific Northwest resident for 10 years with a three year Berkeley stint in the middle.
                                                Everytime I go home to visit the fam I stop at Mort's/Bea's in Reseda for some good rye bread (can't get here), coleslaw, and, if in season, Bea's macaroons.

                                                Thanks for the rec! I will have to try it sometime when I'm visiting.

                                          2. ScarletB: young lady when I need a recipe like this where there is alot of different
                                            variations, what I do is go to allrecipes.com and check out the variations they have
                                            there because all their recipes are tried/true. and you can get a good idea there.

                                            1. ooh rob133 that really does sound good

                                              1. This is the recipe I adapted from a National Grange cookbook. I make a big batch for the baked bean and ham suppers held in our town during the summer. It partially fills the large Tupperware cake taker. At the supper they put it in a smaller dish. I was interested to see that people think cole slaw tastes better the next day because I've always felt it was best as fresh as possible. Usually I make it after lunch for the supper that starts serving at 4:30pm.
                                                2 heads of cabbage (flavor depends on time of year, older cabbages taste a bit harsh)
                                                4 peel carrots
                                                I shred these in a food processor.
                                                Coleslaw dressing:
                                                3/4 C regular mayonnaise
                                                1/4 C sugar
                                                1/4 C white vinegar
                                                1 T celery seed
                                                1 tsp salt
                                                1/4 C dill pickle juice (my secret ingredient)
                                                My sister thinks my cole slaw is too sweet but it is very popular at the suppers. If I'm away and can't make the cole slaw, the regulars at the supper notice the difference and comment.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: dfrostnh

                                                  Thanks for posting - and for giving us your secret ingredient! Sounds great and I'll definitely give it a try.

                                                2. I'm going to make some this afternoon, what a coincidence! For about a pound of shredded slaw, either straight cabbage or one of the precut mixes, I mix half to three-quarters of a cup each of Hellman's (regular!) and buttermilk, a couple of tablespoons of red wine vinegar, a heaping soupspoon of sweet pickle relish, a big multi-finger pinch of sugar and a couple of teaspoons of salt. (If I'm making it just for me I use about half the relish and no extra sugar, but Mrs. O wants it sweet.) This will just barely dampen the cabbage, but after it's sat for an hour or two in the fridge the cabbage gives off enough juice to make it very moist, even runny.

                                                    1. ScarletB, I'm sorry I haven't got time to read through this thread, because we're all about coleslaw here. I do have a KFC clone recipe that I use all the time, if it's a flavor you like. You can always cut back on the sugar. One thing though: there's a distinct possibility that if you call, write or email Mort's, they'll be happy to give you the ingredients and maybe even the proportions. It's a huge compliment, and any chef would consider it so. Or at least this chef would.

                                                      1. We have two favorite recipes at our house:
                                                        1. Classic: dressing is mayo and sweet pickle juice (approx 3:1?); finely shredded cabbage, pinch of celery seed, a little chopped onion, S&P.
                                                        2. Asian: dressing is rice vinegar plus some sugar plus some toasted sesame oil and a pinch of salt; finely shredded cabbage, sliced green onion tops and red pepper flakes to taste (or siracha added to dressing).

                                                        1. I love cole slaw but no matter which recipe I used it always came out watery if not consumed immediately because the salt in the dressing draws lots of water out of the cabbage. Then I came across a recipe that called for sprinkling some salt on the shredded cabbage and letting it render some water for an hour. Then rinse and press in a colander or squeeze in a clean dish towel and add the dressing. You can use this method for any recipe, but some salt will be retained after rinsing so leave it out of the dressing and taste before adding more. Makes a huge difference and the cole slaw will last an extra day or two.