Coleslaw, Delicatessen-Style

Good-old American coleslaw hails from … (wait for it!) … Holland. “Koolsla” in Dutch is pronounced exactly like coleslaw (double “o” in Dutch sounds like the long O in “rose”). Koolsla is the shortened form of “koolsalade” -- cabbage salad.

 I make coleslaw the New York German deli way, with little mayonnaise, but tangy sweet and sour.

Any smooth-leaved green variety of cabbage seems to produce good coleslaw. Sweetness in the cabbage gets lost with all the seasonings added to it by the time the dish is completed. Savoy cabbage, though I love it for other things, in my experience doesn’t make particularly good coleslaw. Red cabbage produces a spectacular, if unorthodox, coleslaw. It serves well on a holiday buffet table. Specialty slaws for fancy and restaurant fare include slaw made from shredded Brussels sprouts.

 The recipe serves six as a side dish, with easily stored left-overs.

1 medium head of green (or red) cabbage or 3/4 of a medium-large head
1 medium-large carrot
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (“real” preferred)
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
6 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Discard any tough outer cabbage leaves. Cut off cabbage’s bottom inch. Cut the head in half through the stem and cut it again into quarters. Set a quarter on a board and cut away the core and any big ribs on the exterior.

 Shred cabbage finely crosswise, either with a sharp knife on a cutting board, with a mandolin slicer, or in a food processor fitted with a 2-millimeter slicer blade. As you shred it, place cabbage in a very large bowl for mixing.

 Peel carrot and shred it, using the coarse side of a grater or the food processor fitted with a grater blade. Add it to the cabbage.

 Add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well. It will be dry at first. Let it sit 15 or 20 minutes, mixing from time to time, until the cabbage softens and the juices increase. Taste and adjust salt, vinegar or sugar as desired.

 Coleslaw is best if allowed to chill for an hour or more, or even up to several days, covered. Mix well and taste before serving and adjust salt, vinegar or sugar if needed. 



Pad Thai Noodles


I’ve been slow on getting recipes onto my blog during the Covid pandemic, since I’ve been cooking virtually every day at the family restaurant, Donderos’ Kitchen here in Athens. Casual cooking for family and friends, as well as teaching cooking, which often lead to blog posts, have been off for over a year. But I’ll try to get back into the habit, especially now that the hits on the blog have increased appreciably. I’ll start back up with a family favorite, pad thai noodles.


Pad Thai noodles,, without shrimp
Pad Thai noodles, non-shrimp version
This exciting concoction of rice noodles fried sweet and sour with shrimp, tofu, pork (I sometimes substitute chicken), bean sprouts and toasted peanuts, is thought by some Westerners to be a Thai national dish. In fact, pad thai, meaning fried in the Thai manner, is street vendor food that is whipped up fresh and served for lunch or snack. And it is only forty or fifty years old and not part of traditional Thai cuisine. My wife, Christina, grew up in Bangkok, and did not even see this dish until she was an adult. Because pad thai is typically a light meal in itself, it, like most noodle dishes, is not usually included in a Thai dinner.


The recipe serves six.

 1/2 pound Thai dry flat rice noodles, 1/8-inch wide

2 eggs, beaten

12 fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail shells left on (optional, increasing the meat if not using)

1/2 pound raw chicken breast or pork, thinly sliced

1/2 of a (1-pound) cake of tofu, firm style, in 1/2-inch cubes

3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 scallions, including most of the green part, diagonally sliced 1/2 inch long

5 tablespoons peanuts (dry roasted), crushed or chopped slightly

2 cups fresh bean sprouts, rinsed

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

4 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (available in Asian groceries)

4 tablespoons palm or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground red toasted pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne plus 1/4 teaspoon paprika

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (not olive oil)

1 red chili pepper, seeds removed, shredded or 1/2 teaspoon roasted Thai pepper flakes)

Lime wedges plus several sprigs of cilantro (coriander) leaves for garnish


Break noodles into 4-inch lengths. Soak in warm water at least 20 minutes, until softened. Drain. Beat eggs in a small bowl. Prepare the other ingredients from shrimp through cilantro leaves and set out in separate piles on a platter before cooking. Mix lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and toasted red pepper, or cayenne plus paprika, in a small bowl.


Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan and gently stir-fry the garlic until pale golden. Add chicken or pork and increase heat and stir-fry until color is almost changed. Add shrimp, if used, and continue to stir-fry just until shrimp turn bright pink. Add the tofu. Stir and fry 15 seconds. Add lime juice mixture, stirring briefly to dissolve.


Add drained noodles and stir through the mixture 20-30 seconds (the noodles should start to become tender). Push noodles to one side in the wok. Add a little oil to the emptied part of the pan, and pour in beaten eggs. As they set, gently scramble them, keeping them separate from the noodles. Place most of the bean sprouts and scallions plus half the peanuts and chopped cilantro on the noodles. Stir these and the scrambled eggs throughout the noodles. Taste a noodle, and add fish sauce or salt if needed.


Serve immediately on a large plate or platter, sprinkling on the remaining bean sprouts, peanuts, scallions, chopped cilantro leaf, and red pepper or pepper flakes. Garnish with lime wedges plus several sprigs of cilantro. Diners should squeeze a little lime juice on their noodles.

Follow Us @donderoskitchen