Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday: Kohlrabi Slaw Redux

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

Well, you may remember that last week I wrote about a recipe gone wrong. One of those recipes that went increasingly wrong as I kept trying to fix it.

I put out a plea for help, and help you delivered! I not only received suggestions from Ann Arbor, but also from Alberta, Canada; New Orleans; Belgium; Boston and several other locales.

I am very grateful for all of the help. Many of the suggestions were similar, which makes sense given that I described what I was looking for. After sorting out the many ideas, and going to local blog, Gastronomical Three, suggested by AnnArbor.com reader Vivienne Armentrout, I decided to try the following variations:

This one was suggested by AnnArbor.com reader Peipei:

1 TBS canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 TBS honey
1 tsp fresh, grated ginger
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS whole grain mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground fresh pepper

A sauce for hiyashi chuka, the cold Japanese noodle dish, was suggested by my blogging buddy, Thalia's Child, who lives somewhere in Western Canada. After doing a comparison of different variants of hiyashi chuka, I decided on the variant suggested by Thalia's Child, which consisted of this:

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
5 tablespoons chicken stock
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chili oil (optional - but I used it)

I then pondered "add-ins". AnnArbor.com reader JG suggested cranberries, both for color and taste, and AnnArbor.com reader Mike Jennings suggested elimination of the sunflower seeds and adding black sesame seeds and toasted sesame seeds instead.

As a tasting panel, we invited over some friends, and we made a lovely Monday night dinner of it, supplementing the kohlrabi slaw taste-testing with grilled chicken sausages, a decadent Paula Deen corn casserole, and an Achatz raspberry pie. (Yeah, I was a bit lazy and opted for store bought dessert).

Before our friends arrived, I made two batches of the kohlrabi slaw with this recipe:

Per batch:
4 cups shredded kohlrabi
2 peeled, shredded carrots
4 shredded radishes

Then I divided the slaw into two bowls and mixed one bowl with Peipei's dressing and one with HALF the hiyashi chuka sauce. The amount of the hiyashi chuka sauce was basically twice the amount of Peipei's dressing, so you can either halve the recipe or save the rest of the sauce for another use (such as actually making hiyashi chuka). I let the batches of slaw marinate while I prepped everything else.

Right before dinner, I divided each batch of slaw into three bowls and topped each bowl with one of the following add-ins:

1. cranberries and toasted sunflower seeds
2. JUST toasted sunflower seeds
3. black sesame seeds and gomasio (dry roasted sesame seeds with sea salt):

We then passed all six bowls around sequentially and tasted each. For our very unscientific poll of four, the winning variant was unanimous:

Hiyashi chuka sauce with cranberries and toasted sesame seeds
followed by the hiyashi chuka sauce with black sesame seeds and gomasio.

It needs to be stated, however, that we also really enjoyed those same two variants with Peipei's dressing. The solo sunflower seed variant, however, was just plain boring with either dressing.

Differences between the two dressings:
both gave the semi-sweet, Asian feel that I was looking for with my original recipe. I would proudly serve either one at my table. Peipei's dressing was far sweeter than the hiyashi chuka sauce, so if you prefer sweeter tastes, in general, Peipei's dressing would be your choice. Since I used the optional 1/2 tsp hot chili oil in the hiyashi chuka sauce, this sauce gave a bit of heat, something that all four of us enjoyed. If you prefer something with a bit of spice, then the hiyashi chuka variant is for you. The cranberry/sunflower seed option was pretty darned sweet, the black sesame seed/gomasio option was much more savory, especially with the hiyashi chuka sauce.

So mix and match to your own tastes and enjoy! After the wonderful suggestions I received here, I'm hoping to have further misadventures in the kitchen.

Also, if you feel like commenting, comments would be greatly appreciated here.


Buttercup said...

A noble experiment in comparative recipes! I was interested in your Asian (Japanese noodle) sauce - it closely resembles a recipe that I have for Chinese marinated cucumbers. That one consists of rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot sauce (I use sambal oelek). I cut the cucumbers into long strips, not rounds, and have also used carrots cut in strips and parboiled until barely fork-tender, then chilled. I doubt that the chicken broth is necessary for the slaw, either.

Unknown said...

love love love this post - I am definitely going to try some of these combinations :)

my WCW won't be up until later today - but it will be up eventually :)

Brian Miller said...

wow...getting creative...i wish lunch would hurry it up...smiles.

Heather said...

Aw, I wish I'd seen your plea for kohlrabi slaw help! I make one that I like a lot - it's very similar to what you settled on, but uses cream, white balsamic and walnut oil instead of canola and sesame. Everything else sounds like what I do, even the dried cranberries.

Tammy Coxen said...

I was looking at the kohlrabi at the market last week and wondering what one could do with it. I'm not sure I've never had it! Your recipes sound great, and I love your tasting methodology - sounds like the sort of thing I'd do.

What's kohlrabi taste like? And what else can you do with it besides make slaw?

Madam Crunchypants said...

Oooh! I feel like I've arrived in the bloggy cooky world! :D

I am totally going to try the slaw now that I know what sauce to use.

(also, I live in BC, if'n you're interested :D)

Jen said...

Buttercup - Thanks for the suggestion - I love that kind of salad, as well, and have all the ingredients today, thanks to my CSA pick-up!

City Girl - the two dressings are lovely, and I'd recommend Buttercup's variant as well.

Brian - sorry to make you hungry! ;-)

Heather - I wish you had, too, since you always have such wonderful ideas. Your variant sounds really different than the Asian one I was trying for, but I'd like to try that, too.

Tammy - you can roast it, slice and saute it, etc. It's a bit like turnips in both taste and consistency. I like the slaw, though, because I'm more in the mood for the cooked versions when it's not actually kohlrabi season.

Thalia - I wasn't sure if it was BC or Alberta - I also wasn't sure if you wanted that specific out there - and yes, you certainly did! Thanks so much - I not only loved your dressing, but now I want to make hiyashi chuka! Thanks again!

Goofball said...

I stopped by ...over there like you asked ;)

Jen said...

Thanks so much, Goofball - it's greatly appreciated!

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

I love your scientific study!

Glad both versions came out good.

I hate when you are trying to recreate something and it never quite works out.

Good thing there are a lot of food bloggers out there, right?

Thanks for the recipes!

Jen said...

You're very welcome, Jenn. I'm glad for all those great food bloggers, too! Funny thing is, I mostly know Thalia through her great writing and other projects - but she sure came through! ;-)

Jackie at Phamfatale.com said...

Hope you had a good time at the wedding last weekend.

I love this dish. I usually use walnut oil though for a nice nutty aroma. My husband always ask to make it more spicy!

Jenna said...

Wow! And if you read my latest post, you've just given me some timely information! I don't know if I've ever tried kohlrabi! This is great!

(Oh, and I'm coming for Luisa's contest.)

Anonymous said...

Ah, don't you just love the help from the blogging community! It's so cool that you got together this tasting panel.

Buttercup said...

Tammy - I had a couple of posts about kohlrabi on my blog (shameless self-promotion). Kohlrabi is a subtle vegetable and our favorite cooked version is just peeled, sliced, cooked in minimal water, then seasoned with butter, salt and pepper. OK for gratin too. But the slaw is an excellent choice.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love kohlrabi! That slaw must taste wonderful!



Jen said...

Jackie - we did! And you're the second person who's mentioned walnut oil, so I think that's my next step. I don't know if my family could handle something spicier - we're all wimps.

Jenna - I have to get over there - I'm still a little behind this week! I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Burp - it *is* a wonderful thing about the blogging community - I completely agree!

Tammy - and anyone else who's interested in Buttercup's recipes - she can be found at Voltaire's Garden, which is on my blogroll.

Rosa - it's a good slaw - thanks to my readers!

GollyGumDrops said...

We're always on the look out for new salad recipes that the family will like. This looks like it's worth a go.