Tangy red coleslaw

Nothing about this coleslaw is shy and retiring: it packs a punch with revved-up colour and flavours.


My friends will instantly recognise this as the coleslaw I always bring along to barbecues and picnics. The stuff has great presence: fantastically coloured with red cabbage, purple carrots and Schiaparelli-pink quick-pickled onions, speckled with green parsley.

It also tastes fabulous. Instead of a mayo-based dressing, three ingredients from the Thai palette that might sound like an odd combination – lime juice, apple cider vinegar and fish sauce – conspire to create a balance of sweet, sour and salty that’s addictive. It goes brilliantly with barbecued meats, and is glorious in burgers and sandwiches. You can keep it in the fridge for at least a week, where it will call to you to be included in and alongside all sorts of meals.

It does need sitting-around time for the cabbage to soften and all the flavours to develop, so its make-aheadness is built in. If purple carrots elude you – they’re simply an aesthetic choice, though I see them in supermarkets these days – just use orange ones.

Tangy red coleslaw


Serves 6–8.

1 red onion
2 limes
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
400g (14 oz, about ¼ of a whole) red cabbage
150g (5 oz) purple carrots
½ cup parsley, roughly chopped
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

To make the pink pickled onion, cut the onion in half and slice finely. Place the slices in a small bowl and add the juice of one of the limes and a good pinch of salt. Stir together and set aside for at least 2 hours, by which time the onion will soften and turn bright pink.

In a salad bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of juice from the remaining lime with the apple cider vinegar, fish sauce and sugar.

Shred the cabbage by slicing finely with a sharp knife. Grate the carrots using a course grater or a vegetable peeler.

Add the cabbage, carrot and parsley to the dressing. Drain the pink pickled onion, discarding the liquid, and add to the salad.

Toss together well. Taste to check seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.