A while ago, Jan went to Napa and came back raving about Pica Pica’s arepas. She demanded that I learn how to make these South American pocket breads. I did my best, based only on her description and what I could find on the internet. Last week, we went up to San Francisco and I actually got to try one of Pica Pica’s arepas. I decided to try to make them again.
Pica Pica serves their arepas with a side of cabbage slaw. Which has a tart, thin, lightly pink dressing, that sets off nicely the rich filling of the corn pockets. Their slaw has green and red cabbage, carrots, and, I think, some daikon—although it could be jicama. The dressing is mostly vinegar, sugar and whole yellow mustard seeds—there may be something else, but it is really a very delicate and subtle dressing.
My original intent was to try to make a copy-cat of their slaw, but one thing lead to another. “Gee, some red pepper and mango would add some nice colors to the salad.” I suspected that Pica Pica used some red wine vinegar in their dressing, but to get close to their flavor I had to add several items. My dressing was very good, but was also very different. I would have to call this salad inspired by, not a copy, of Pica slaw.
Karl’s South American Slaw
3 Tbs. peanut oil
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. cane sugar (panela or piloncillo)
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds, whole
¼ tsp. yellow mustard, powdered
4 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 cup jicama, cut in large bars
½ cup red cabbage, shredded
½ cup carrot, large match sticks
½ cup red bell pepper, large dice
1 green mango, peeled, seeded, and cut in a large dice
1. The day before making your salad, mix all of the ingredients in a small lidded jar and shake to mix.
Tip: The piloncillo is sort of halfway between densely packed brown sugar and hard rock candy. If you heat the dressing slightly—15 seconds in a microwave—it will dissolve more quickly.
Note: You want to give the whole mustard seeds time to absorb the vinegar and to impart their spiciness to the dressing. Let the dressing meld for at least 4 hours.
2. Cut up the vegetables and put them in a bowl.
Tip: What shapes you chose is up to you, those listed are what I chose to do with each vegetable so that they would not be all the same shape.
3. Just before serving pout the dressing and toss to mix and coat the vegetables.
Tip: This is not a pickled salad, so do not put the dressing on too early. You want your vegetables to be crisp and fresh.
2 responses to “Karl’s South American Slaw”
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