When you’re eating a dish as rich as fried chicken, a punch of brightness and freshness is absolutely essential, and nothing suits the bill quite as well as a bowl of cool, crisp coleslaw. But thanks to the mayo-glopped versions popular at mediocre fast food chains, this classic Southern side dish has earned a bad reputation.
In his cooking class for YesChef, a subscription-based streaming platform offering cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs, Kentucky chef Edward Lee seeks to remake coleslaw’s reputation with a bright, herby Asian pear and cabbage slaw.
“It grows cheap, and it grows plentiful,” Lee says of cabbage, the slaw’s staple ingredient. “A lot of Southerners have relied on cabbage for sustenance, whether in the form of braised cabbage or coleslaw — there’s many many different ways” to use it.
For this recipe, tender leaves of Savoy cabbage and crisp Asian pears are cut into thin matchsticks for optimal crunch. “I love the way the two kind of work together,” Lee says. “They’re both very crispy. There’s not too much acidity in the Asian pear, the flavor is a little more delicate.” To the pears and cabbage, Lee adds a flurry of chopped cilantro and an easy, sweet-sour vinaigrette that’s made with ginger, sugar, rice wine vinegar, and white pepper.
Even with all that chopping, Lee’s recipe offers a ton of flavor payoff with only a few minutes of prep, and that’s definitely a bonus when you’re hustling to get dinner on the table. — Amy McCarthy
Asian Pear and Cabbage Slaw Recipe
2 Asian pears, peeled and cut into batons
5 large savoy cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1½ inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
Step 1: Place the pear batons, sliced cabbage, chopped cilantro, and grated ginger in a large bowl.
Step 2: Add the salt, white pepper, and sugar.
Step 3: Add the rice wine vinegar and toss well to combine.
Step 4: Allow the slaw to rest for a few minutes before serving.