Simple, Semi-Fermented Magic
Shredding cabbage—combined with salt and pressed for a few hours— becomes a slaw base and a wonderful trip to Japan
While making traditional sauerkraut I had some extra salted cabbage that wouldn’t fit into my fermentation kit, so I saved it for another day. I remembered from my study of the Japanese macrobiotic diet that salting and “weighting” cabbage is used as a “yang” condiment to bring balance to “yin” excess. They salt cabbage as another way to enjoy—not quite raw, not quite fermented—food.
If you are not making sauerkraut and want to master a new crunchy slaw, here tis:
- cabbage – red or green, or Napa cabbage – 1 pound
- sea salt – 20 grams [.70 oz] SEE STEP 2 FOR THE RATIO FOR ANY WEIGHT OF CABBAGE
DIRECTIONS: The finer you can slice the cabbage the better mouthfeel
- Finely slice cabbage with a sharp knife, a mandolin slicer, [or with the shredding disc of a food processor]
- Weigh the cabbage and combine 20 grams of sea salt for every 1 pound of cabbage [4.5% weight salt to cabbage ratio]. 20 grams is about .70% ounce. [You can weigh your cut cabbage and then multiply this by 4.5% to yield the amount of salt]
- Place cabbage and salt in a large bowl and toss
- Cover with a plate that does not touch the side of the bowl and then add a heavy weight, like a 28 oz. can of beans or veggies as a weight
- Leave for 5-6 hours or more until some liquid begins to appear
- Taste at this point and correct the saltiness by adding salt or draining some brine off and replacing with water so it tastes balanced
- That’s it! Refrigerate and use like a slaw to be dressed with oil, vinegar, minced veggies
- MY FAVORITE DRESSING: On a pure whim I added a light coating of neutral oil, and a wee drizzle of toasted sesame oil, then a shake or two of a Japanese seaweed condiment called “furikake.” Wow, my guests couldn’t stop going back for more. There is an umami triangulation going on here!
© 2021 Bill Hettig