Hawaiian Cole Slaw

Here’s the thing with cole slaw – when I hear that there will be cole slaw on the menu, I get images of soupy, creamy, standard mayo based…maybe too sweet, or in general, ‘I’m not sure if I want to order this because I’m not sure what I am going to get’ cole slaw. This is primarily because EVERYONE has their own recipe for cole slaw and they can all taste so different.

I have not always been a fan of cole slaw (hear all of my midwest relatives gasp) because of all those unknowns I mentioned above. It was such a staple dish at family gatherings (along with Claudia’s Seven Layer Salad), but I always went more for the seven layer salad than the cole slaw. 

Unlike all of the cole slaw of my youth, this Hawaiian twist recipe takes an open minded approach to what cole slaw is with its’ citrus, soy sauce, and ginger, and the light, freshness and crunch that the veggies contribute.

Hawaiian inspired often means Asian inspired as well.  As you can see above, this sauce is a grouping of soy, mirin, sesame oil, citrus and ginger.  There is something so wonderful about this combination when it hits your taste buds.  Foodies call that the fifth element of successful cooking – the Umami of a dish. That element adds the extra sensual experience when eating where the flavor hits all the points of your palette and you feel truly satisfied.

Although Eric and I are huge fans of these flavors, I often forget to add it in meal planning as much as I would like.   Mental note – think asian when unsure what to make during the week. 

Back to this cole slaw.  I searched for a light and crunchy topping for the Smokey Banana Pulled Pork I was making and I found this – with modifications.  It was perfect with the pineapple because I was already encorporating pineapple in a salsa, it would go well with the ponzu cucumber salad and of course, add a great complimentary flavor on the smoky pulled pork.

One of the modifications came from the weekly CSA contribution of a large head of Napa Cabbage.  Original recipe called for both green and red shredded cabbage.  I have never really had Napa Cabbage before and feel like it is now one of my favorites, as it is not as dense as the standard head of cabbage that I am more familiar with.

Thank you CSA for introducing me to something new that I haven’t had before.  Above is a pic of the goodies that came thru over the last 2 weeks.  For the bookclub meal, I used the Napa Cabbage, Rutabaga, and Rhubarb.  The rest was for us to enjoy during the week.

Hawaiian Cole Slaw


  • 4 cups Napa cabbage, thinly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup Shredded carrot
  • 4 Green onions, cut at angle
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbls fresh Ginger, grated
  • 6 Tbls Mirin
  • 2 Tbls Soy sauce
  • 2 Tbls Honey
  • 4 tsp Sesame oil
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • Sea salt


Begin by chopping, dicing and shredding cabbage, pineapple, carrot and cilantro. Place them in a large bowl.   In a separate, small bowl, whisk together ginger, mirin, soy, honey, sesame oil and lime juice.

Top cabbage mixture with the sauce. Toss gently until the slaw is coated thoroughly.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Do not be surprised that the height of the salad will reduce as the cabbage takes on the sauce.

Serve on pulled pork sandwiches, on side an asian ribs bbq, or just if you want a refreshing cabbage salad.  Enjoy!

Happy Chopping!

*Recipe a variation of the Hawaiian Cole Slaw recipe on the website PlatingsandParing.com.

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