From America's Test Kitchen Season 2: Fried Chicken and 'Fixens
No other food embodies an outdoor grillfest quite the same as coleslaw. This summery salad offers a nice crunch and creaminess that contrasts well with sweet and savory barbecued meats and vegetables. But, despite its simplicity, simple coleslaw can be tough for home cooks to get just right. Usually, the coleslaw ends up sitting in a pool of water, with limp cabbage floating around. We wanted a recipe for a crisp salad and a creamy dressing that wouldn’t be waterlogged.
To prevent the salad from getting watery, we salted the cabbage until it wilted, then rinsed and dried it. Removing the excess water helped to keep our dressing thick and creamy, and ensured that the cabbage stayed crunchy in the slaw. For the dressing, we used a combination of mayonnaise and low-acidity rice vinegar; these made a creamy dressing that was flavorful but not too harsh. All our coleslaw needed now were a few grinds of black pepper and some shredded carrot for color and further crunch and a little sweetness.
If you like caraway or celery seed in your coleslaw, you can add one-quarter teaspoon of either with the mayonnaise and vinegar. You can shred, salt, rinse, and pat the cabbage dry a day ahead, but dress it close to serving time.