Japanese coleslaw is served with tonkatsu and all manner of fried foods in Japan. The perfect partner to all kinds of dishes, it cuts through rich flavours and provides a foil for the bland.
Whatever the main component of your meal, Asian or otherwise, a slaw type salad is the ideal side. Crisp cabbage has a freshness to it that enlivens the palate and a mildly bitter flavour. A dressing of perfect balance provides sharp acidity from the vinegar, deeply salty umami notes of soy, and the sweetness of mirin. The oil serves to soften the cabbage and allow just a hint of the sesame to bring a nutty edge to the dish.
Many Asian dishes rely on the concept of satisfying all five tastes. By using ingredients that have sour, salty, sweet, bitter and savoury (umami) elements, a perfect balance is achieved.
These concepts have found their way into western cooking, and soy sauce is now one of the most widely used condiments in the world. Rice vinegar has a subtle sweetness to it. A sharp edge but with none of the harshness. Mirin is a rice wine but is sweeter than sake and has less alcohol.
You could serve this coleslaw on the side with many of your family favourite dishes. Not just for Japanese food, it makes a great addition to everything from tacos to cottage pie.
Recipe for Japanese coleslaw
1/4 head white cabbage, finely shredded 1/4 head red cabbage, finely shredded 1 carrot, grated 1 tbsp rice vinegar 1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce 1 tbsp mirin 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 tsp sesame oil 1.Toss all of the ingredients in a large bowl. 2. Leave to stand for 30 minutes before serving to allow the cabbage to soften and the flavours to combine.