All around the world, fermented cabbage has been a life sustaining bridge between the fall harvest and the first green shoots of spring. There’s Eastern Europe’s sauerkraut, Korea’s kimchi, and Latin America’s lightly fermented curtido. This spicy slaw is a riff on that last condiment; it’s sweet but not too funky, and perfect alongside grilled fish or as a condiment for tacos. To ferment cabbage, you have to thinly slice and massage it with salt to force the water out of the vegetable and create a brine. Within a few days, the acidifying activity of several strains of bacteria (including Lactobacillus) will start transforming it into this sweetly sour and spicy condiment. This recipe first appeared in our October 2011 issue.
- 1 cup carrots, cut into 1″-long matchsticks
- 1 tbsp. kosher or sea salt
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 2 medium red onions, very thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 large head (about 2 1/2 lb.) green cabbage, cored and shredded
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, and massage ingredients with your hands until the cabbage begins to release its liquid. Transfer cabbage mixture to a sterilized 1-qt. plastic container with a large mouth, such as a cleaned plastic yogurt or sour cream container. Place a plate small enough to fit inside the container over the cabbage and place a heavy can or weight on top to keep cabbage mixture submerged in liquid. Drape a large kitchen towel over container and let sit at room temperature (ideally 70°–75°) for 3 days. Uncover and transfer cabbage mixture to a sterilized 1-qt. glass jar, cover with lid, and refrigerate for 1 day before serving. The sauerkraut will keep for 1 week stored in refrigerator.