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What's your favorite take on Mexican-style cole slaw?

After choking down a couple of less than stellar cabbage salads at a recent potluck, I decided I'd like to try my hand at concocting a Mexican cole slaw to go with some knackwurst I'll be grilling this weekend.

I have a basic formulation in mind (cabbage, carrots, lime juice, cilantro, chile, comino, salt, black pepper, leetle bit of sugar). I'm still wavering a bit on whether or not I want to add a little fat, and if so, in what form (e.g., vegetable oil, olive oil, mayo), but I'll consult with my assistant eater and head dishwasher to see what she thinks. ;-)

As I have only a germ of an idea at this point, I'm interested in seeing what your favorite ways of making a Mexican-style cole slaws are.


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  1. Shredded jicama always adds an interesting flavour

    1. I like to make a chipotle-lime dressing for my shredded cabbage/jicama -

      A few drops of chipotle hot sauce mixed with a bit of honey (or sweetener of choice) and lime juice. Mix and let sit for a bit and you're good to go!

      1 Reply
      1. re: jbyoga

        All of the above, but sometimes I'll use a little pureed chipotle in adobo; put the rest in a tiny plastic ice cube tray, freeze, put cubes in a freezer bag for future use. Sometimes a little mayo; sometimes some ancho chile powder. Lime zest. Love jicama-usually do matchsticks on the mandoline. Fish tacos anyone?

      2. I like to chop up a Jalapeno, Grind it up in a mortar with Kosher salt and olive oil. Toss
        with all the other stuff you mentioned. oui la la

        1. i use whole milk yogurt & process it with cilantro,jalapeno,lime juice, garlic & salt. Jicama, red cabbage, carrots & some shredded zucchini. Radishes would be good too.

          1. I think you are lacking a little liquid- I suggest a little white vinegar. Authentic mexican slaw never has mayo. Cabbages are bundled in large fishnet sacks, and are too voluminous to command premium and limited refrigerated space, and slaw is pretty much a room temperature dish there, from start to finish.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Veggo

              The one exception being the unintended Slaws on Ensenada Fish Tacos... I say unintended because the raw shredded cabbage is added over piping hot fried fish... wilting it with steam a little... then the "White Sauce" layered on top... is often nothing more than watered down Mayo & Lime Juice + some seasonings (which no Taquero is going to give up)... then of course you add a nice layer of smooth, dried chile based salsa on top.

              So my guess is that if you sweat the shredded cabbage for just a few seconds... combine with the White Sauce & a Guajillo Salsa... the result has to be pretty good.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                A little mayo spiked with a guajillo salsa does sound like a pretty good addition. Hmm...I'll have to give that some thought.

            2. Thanks for the ideas! I'm considering making a couple of different variations, so that I'll have an opportunity to try out some of the more divergent suggestions.

              1. The closest thing I've had to a Mexican slaw was actually served as a salsa with chips. I'm not sure it needs much more than salt, lime juice and cilantro , plus chile to taste. I wouldn't add any extra liquid; the salt will draw it out from the cabbage.

                  1. re: kc72

                    Mmmaybe? I associate the word "curtido" with Salvadorean cuisine, but the idea is more or less the same, I think. The main differences (in my limited experience with curtido) between curtido and what I'm aiming for are that the Salvadorean slaw (1) relies on vinegar, as opposed to lime, for the acid component, (2) doesn't typically have cilantro in it, and (3) uses raw onions.

                    1. re: hohokam

                      Curtidos are also popular in Mexico... although in most regions they are known as Escabeches. In addition to Cabbage, Jalapenos & Dried Chiles you will find curtidos of Cucumber, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Nopales, Sour Fruits, Green Beans etc.,

                  2. I use green and purple cabbage then I add cilantro fresh choped serranno fresh pineapple jicama cumin garlic brown sugar rice wine vinegar and a little evoo.It has that sweet spicy salty thing going on. Really good on shrimp taco's. I sometimes trown in some toasted almonds.

                    1. I forgoy I add some fresh lime juice also.

                      1. You're talking about one of my very favorite things. There's a restaurant close by that make this stuff and its so good I have tried many times to recreate it.

                        They serve it in a bowl along with salsa, the point is to eat it with the tortiila chips. Just delicious.

                        As best I can guess, there is lime cabbage, onion, scallion, chilis (i use serrano) white vinegar, a little sugar, salt and pepper, finely finely diced bits of tomato and cilantro, a little bit of water, and maybe just a tad of mayo. Not a lot, so don't think American coleslaw. Its just delicious, and I eat it on its own as a salad. And in my case I've never had to sweat it down, it breaks down naturally, so go easy with the water.