Last Updated on 10 months by Tim
Shredded cabbage marinated with fresh cream is one of my favorite German salads. It’s much lighter and tastier than cabbage salad that is marinated with mayonnaise. In fact, in the South of Germany, no dish uses mayonnaise as an ingredient.
Southern Germans frown upon mayonnaise because it is very heavy and pretty bland. If you substitute fresh cream or yogurt for mayonnaise in any salad it will taste much better. The flavor you get from dairy is so much more pleasing than the flavor you get from an emulsified vegetable oil.
I think one of the main reasons why the American coleslaw is marinated with mayonnaise is that it was Jewish immigrants who introduced Americans to cabbage salad. Jews need to eat according to their religion which prohibits them to consume dairy and meat together. So if they prepare cabbage salad as a side dish for meat they are not allowed to add cream to it.
But if you’re a Christian or atheist, like most of my readers probably are, I highly recommend you pair this salad with pork. It’s a pairing made in heaven. May it be schnitzel, pork pot roast, or pork skewers that you eat this cabbage salad with.
Pointed cabbage makes the best cabbage salad with cream
I use pointed cabbage (‘Filderkraut’) for this salad. It’s a very delicate variety of cabbage that is grown in the region around Stuttgart. I know that you probably can’t source original Filderkraut but you can use any pointed cabbage or round white cabbage variety. I just wanted to acknowledge this special variety of cabbage that is even protected by the European Union. Every pointed cabbage that is called Filderkraut in Europe has been grown and harvested in the Stuttgart region.
The variety of cabbages available in Germany is as versatile as it gets: White cabbage, red cabbage, pointed cabbage, savoy cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. Just to name the most famous ones. Pair that with all the different cooking methods, and I promise you, you will never get bored of plain old cabbage.
You need to salt your cabbage and squeeze out excess moisture before marinating it. Otherwise, it won’t be able to absorb the marinade and the cabbage salad will taste watery. The salting step will also slightly soften the cabbage so that it is more pleasant to eat.
Taste isn’t the only reason why caraway seeds are added
In Germany, caraway seeds are added to all kinds of cabbages to improve their digestibility. They stimulate the appetite, prevent bloating, and, of course, improve the taste. If you don’t like them you can leave them out. A great substitute for the caraway seeds is cumin. Cumin tastes nothing alike but it’s flavor profile matches perfectly with pointed cabbage too.
Cabbage salad gets better the longer it sits. It’s a great idea to prepare it ahead of time. That way the cabbage can properly soak up the marinade and the flavors have time to mingle.
There’s another cabbage salad in Southern German cuisine that is even lighter because it is marinated with beef broth. You can find the recipe for cabbage salad with broth on my blog as well if you’re not into creamy salads. I love both versions of this classic!