Curtido

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This bright and crunchy pickled cabbage slaw, made with acidic white vinegar, is the perfect contrast to the rich and cheesy pupusas.

Curtido
Photo:

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
Servings:
4 to 6 servings

This bright and pickled cabbage slaw, made with acidic white vinegar, jalapeño and carrots, adds a crunchy contrast to rich and cheesy pupusas. Chef Evelyn Garcia, who shared this recipe, says a plate of pupusas wouldn’t be complete without it. The colorful and versatile condiment is a staple on the Salvadoran table, Garcia says. “I’m a lover of all things sour, and it is the perfect side dish to cut through the richness of the cheesy pupusas.” 

While traditionally paired with pupusas, curtido is also a terrific partner for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or anything that needs a pop of tangy crunch. Some versions of curtido contain seasonings like dried oregano and cumin, but Garcia keeps it simple with just granulated sugar and fine sea salt. Tear open a piping hot pupusa and pile on a small mound of the crunchy condiment before dunking in salsa de tomato. 

For the best curtido, look for a green cabbage with tightly wrapped leaves and one that feels heavy for its size. These are signs of a fresh cabbage. One teaspoon of cilantro stems may not seem like much, but these edible stems are packed with flavor. A little bit goes a long way, adding a zip of citrusy freshness. Reserve the cilantro leaves for garnishing or another use. Thin slices of red onion may tint surrounding cabbage with a soft purple hue as the vinegar causes the red of the onion to bleed. This change in color is normal and won’t affect the taste. Curtido only gets better with age, as the vinegar softens and mellows the vegetables. Make a jar and keep it in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot

  • 1 medium jalapeño chile (unseeded), sliced (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro stems, plus cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

  • 1 cup white vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Toss together cabbage, onion, carrot, jalapeño (if using), and cilantro stems in a medium glass bowl; set aside.

  2. Bring vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high, whisking occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture, and toss to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

To make ahead

Curtido can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

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