A couple of years ago, I escaped the January rains in San Francisco and flew down to Brazil for a well deserved vacation. Ever since moving to the US, I try to visit Brazil during the balmy summertime both to escape the dreadful Winter weather in Northern California, but to catch up with my family and friends. Just as it is here, people take vacation over the Summer months, so everyone’s relaxed and partying all the time. This is perfect for me. I get to enjoy the hot weather and have really fun visits with folks.
That particular January, my sister Ana invited me, my brother, Nelson, along with his spouse, Amélia, and their kids to spend few days at her new condo at the beach in the resort town, Ubatuba. Its located on the northern part of the São Paulo state coast, about one and a half hours drive from São José, the city where Ana lives. It was a great chance to do all the things that I love: sun bathe on a beautiful tropical beach, enjoy my family and eat delicious food. And that’s where the cabbage story begins…
Nelson and Amélia are excellent cooks. Every time I visit home, I make it a point to see them as many times as I can. I love their company, it’s true, but my secret motivation is to enjoy their home cooking genius! They used to run a restaurant, so they know what they’re doing; and they’re very passionate about food. So one of the unexpected benefits of the Ubatuba trip meant breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, all prepared by them. Lucky me!
Each morning they would go the beach with us but then they’d retire home earlier to start the magic in the kitchen. So when we all got back from the beach cooked ourselves but also parched and starving, they would have already concocted something fabulous for us to eat. All we ever had to do was freshen up a bit and sit for a gorgeous meal. How glamorous for us!
Nelson and Amélia have this amazing tropical version of raw cabbage salad that I make all the time now. Today I’m reproducing it here for you to enjoy. It’s simple to make, healthy and delicious:
Shredded Cabbage and Mango Salad
½ green cabbage*
2 scallions including green tops, coarsely chopped
5 slices of red onion, separated into rings and rinsed in cold water for few seconds
1 tsp kosher salt
Juice of 2 limes
1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar (Regina brand)
2 tbsp water
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
½ ripe mango cut in thick strips
Using a mandolin, adjust blade to its thinnest grade and julienne cabbage. I’ve tried this in a food processor, but the cabbage comes out too thick. You can do the cutting by hand, but it’s time consuming and difficult to keep the shreds the right thickness.
Transfer to a bowl. Toss all remaining ingredients together but the mango. Adjust flavors if necessary.
Let it macerate for few minutes. The cabbage will wilt a bit and juices will form in the bottom of the bowl. Transfer cabbage to a serving dish. Pile mango on top. Drizzle mango with some of the remaining juices. Serve at once. Cheers to Amélia, Nelson and Ana for having treated me so well!
*within the green cabbage family I notice that there are several kinds to choose form; all with different textures, flavors and densities of their heads. When I look for cabbage for this salad I try to get ones that are dense but not too heavy, with light green, thick and tender leaves. These are perfect because they will be crunchy but not too crunchy.