Pressed Cabbage Slaw

Simple, Semi-Fermented Magic

Shredded cabbage—Combined with Salt and Pressed for a Few Hours— Welcome 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” down 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

  1. Finely slice cabbage with a sharp knife, a mandolin slicer, [or with the shredding disc of a food processor]
  2. 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]
  3. Place cabbage and salt in a large bowl and toss
  4. 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
  5. Leave for 5-6 hours or more until some liquid begins to appear
  6. Taste at this point and correct the saltiness by adding salt or draining some brine off and replacing with water so it tastes balanced
  7. That’s it! Refrigerate and use like a slaw to be dressed with oil, vinegar, minced veggies
Topped with Watermelon Radish, Cucumber, and Gomasio Sesame Seeds
  • 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!
Here is a jar of furikake from Trader Joe’s for $2.49 It’s great on salads, grains, and more
All cabbages are candidates
I love red cabbage as it turns vermillion when it begins to acidify during fermentation
Salmon Teriyaki, Potatoes Hasselbeck, Pressed Cabbage, Sweet & Sour Green Beans, and Pickled Cauliflower

© 2021 Bill Hettig

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