Curtido (Salvadorean “cole slaw”)

This refreshing salad is the traditional accompaniment to pupusas (stuffed masa patties) and is also great with lots of other things, grilled/smoked meats in particular (think BBQ pork, grilled chicken, burgers, and the like). It is different from most American coleslaw in that it has no sweetness, but it has an additional level of flavor complexity due to the maturing period. It’s easy to throw together and, once ready, keeps a long time in the fridge.


As with all cabbage salads, the quality of the cabbage makes a big difference. The fresher, the better. I like to use a mix of red and green cabbage, it is very pretty, but you can use all one or the other if needed.

1 lb red and/or green cabbage
1 small onion (tennis-ball size, more or less)
1 large carrot
1 or 2 sliced jalapeño peppers (optional, if you like some zing)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
2 TB plus 1 tsp kosher salt

Cut the cabbage into thin shreds. Peel the onion and cut into same-size shreds. Ditto for the carrot. Combine in a bowl with the oregano, cumin, pepper, and salt. Mix well (hands are great for this!). Let sit for 2-3 hours so the vegetables will wilt a bit. Stuff into jars.

Mix the water and vinegar. Pour over the cabbage mixture and use a chopstick to make sure there are no air pockets..

Transfer the cabbage and brine to two 1 quart jars. Press the cabbage down with a wooden spoon. If the cabbage is not completely covered by the brine, dissolve 1 generous TB of kosher salt in 1-1/2 c water and use this brine to top up the jars. Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature for about 4 days. After 3 days, taste the curtido to see if it is to your liking. The maturing time is really subjective–but it’s almost impossible to go wrong! When to your liking, transfer the jars to the fridge where it will keep for many weeks.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ethnic, Salads

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