When I was a teenager this simple salad was all the rage. I guess its popularity was first of all due to the new vegetable: Chinese/Napa cabbage. Even avowed lettuce haters liked its crunchiness, neutral sweetish taste and every home cook appreciated its long fridge life, its all-year availability, not to mention its low price. Some prepared this salad with vinaigrette, some with mayonnaise but my favourite sauce is a mixture of mayonnaise and yogurt with crushed fresh garlic. Though I prepare it all year round, I think of it as a typical winter salad: refreshing and light, but still quite filling.
After so many years I still love this salad and still wonder why the taste is so good because the ingredients are quite ordinary. The only explanation is a perfect combination of different flavours and textures: it’s crunchy (cabbage), sweet (corn), sour (pickled cucumber), with a slight pungency from the onion and the garlic and a creamy mayonnaise sauce finish. I always make sure to grind lots of black pepper for an awakening kick (actually I cannot imagine it without big amounts of pepper, no matter how weird it sounds…).
TIPS: If you want to transform this salad into a full meal, add some proteins such as cubes of hard cheese, hard-boiled eggs, ham, chicken breast or canned tuna.
I think salt-brined cucumbers are the best here, but if you cannot find them (they can be found in Polish, Russian or Ukrainian grocery shops, but I also find them in German organic shops), you can take the more international vinegared pickled cucumbers or even small cornichons. Do not use cucumbers pickled in a very sweet brine though. They must taste sour and sharp.
Preparation: 15 minutes
Ingredients (serves four as a side dish or two as a main course, if protein added (see TIPS above)):
1 small Chinese/Napa cabbage (bu small I mean weighing 1/2 kilo or about 1 lb)
1x 250 g (about oz) can of corn (or the equivalent of frozen/fresh and cooked for 5 minutes)
3 medium salt-brined or vinegar-pickled cucumbers
1 medium red onion (you can also use spring onion, but red onion looks nicer, I think)
mayonnaise or mayonnaise+yogurt (I use approx. 125 ml/ 1/2 cup of dressing)
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
Prepare the sauce with crushed garlic, salt, pepper, mayonnaise and yogurt (if using).
Chop the cabbage, slice finely the onion, cut up the cucumbers, drain and rinse the corn.
Give the salad a good stir and refrigerate.
If you don’t add the sauce immediately, the cut up vegetables will keep for several days (the sauce in a separate container too). It’s best to add the sauce one or two hours before serving; thus the flavours will mix better but don’t add the sauce as early as one day before.