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    Curtido (Salvadorian Slaw)

    This easy Curtido recipe is a staple in Salvadorian cuisine, especially as an accompaniment to Pupusas.

    It’s a simple vinegar based slaw made of cabbage, carrots and onions that can add a bright tang to many of your favorite meals.

    Curtido is a Salvadorian fermented cabbage slaw traditionally served with pupusas, but it's also great with tacos, sandwiches and more!

    What is Curtido?

    Curtido is a type of fermented cabbage slaw that originates from El Salvador. Sometimes called “Spanish Kimchi” it’s a zesty, tangy, and slightly spicy condiment traditionally served with pupusas, tamales, and other Central American dishes.

    Made primarily of finely shredded cabbage, carrots, and onions, it’s usually seasoned with vinegar, salt, and other spices like oregano.

    The combination of these ingredients not only makes it delicious but also aids in its preservation, allowing it to be stored for extended periods.

    Curtido adds a burst of flavor and a crunchy texture, elevating the taste of any meal it accompanies.

    Curtido is a Salvadorian fermented cabbage slaw traditionally served with pupusas, but it's also great with tacos, sandwiches and more!

    Why This Recipe Works

    • Simple Ingredients, Big Flavors: The combination of cabbage, carrots, and onion creates a perfect canvas for the vinegar and seasonings to shine. A touch of jalapeno adds that extra zing without overwhelming the dish.
    • Quick Fermentation: Unlike some fermented foods that require weeks to develop flavors, this Curtido is ready to enjoy in a relatively short time, thanks to the quick-boil step for the cabbage and the vinegar-based marinade.
    • Versatile Usage: This Curtido can act as a side dish, a condiment, or even as an ingredient in other recipes. Its versatility means you’ll reach for it time and time again.
    • Long Shelf Life: Once it’s made, this Curtido can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, making it a convenient addition to meals throughout the week.
    Curtido is a Salvadorian fermented cabbage slaw traditionally served with pupusas, but it's also great with tacos, sandwiches and more!

    What Does Curtido Taste Like?

    Curtido has a tangy and slightly spicy flavor profile, thanks to the vinegar and jalapeño. The dried oregano adds an earthy, herbal touch.

    As it sits and the cabbage ferments, the flavors develop even more, giving it a slight sauerkraut-like taste.

    Curtido is a Salvadorian fermented cabbage slaw traditionally served with pupusas, but it's also great with tacos, sandwiches and more!

    Ingredient Notes

    • Cabbage – Opt for a fresh, firm head to ensure a crunchy texture. Green cabbage is traditional, but you could also experiment with red cabbage for color.
    • Carrots – Choose medium to large carrots for easier slicing. You could also grate them for a different texture.
    • Red Onion – The red onion adds color and a milder flavor compared to yellow or white onions. Make sure to slice it thinly to distribute its flavor evenly.
    • Jalapeno – Remove the seeds and membrane if you prefer less heat. Alternatively, you could use serrano peppers for an extra kick.
    • Water & White Vinegar – These form the base of your pickling liquid. Feel free to experiment with apple cider vinegar for a slightly different tang.
    • Dried Oregano – Mexican oregano is recommended as it has a stronger, more citrusy flavor compared to Mediterranean oregano.
    • Salt – Regular table salt works fine, but you could also try kosher or sea salt for a different mineral profile.

    How to Make Curtido

    Step 1: Bring a pot of water to a low boil. Remove from heat, and add in cabbage. Allow to sit for 8-10 minutes, then drain the cabbage in a colander.

    blanching the cabbage

    Step 2: In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots, onion and jalapeno.

    mixing the veggies

    Step 3: Whisk together water, vinegar, oregano and salt. Pour over the slaw mixture. Toss to combine.

    finished product

    Step 4: Transfer to a covered container or mason jars. Once cooled, refrigerate for up to 1 week.

    Recipe Tips and Notes

    • Blanching the Cabbage: Don’t skip the step of briefly boiling the cabbage. This process softens it just enough to absorb the flavors better while retaining its crunch.
    • Marination Time: Keep in mind that the flavors intensify over time. While you can enjoy it right away, for best taste let it marinate for at least 24 hours before serving.
    • Spice Level: Feel free to adjust the amount of jalapeño based on your heat tolerance. You can even add red pepper flakes for extra spice.
    • Sterilize Jars: If you plan to store the Curtido for an extended period, make sure to use sterilized mason jars to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.
    • Fresh Oregano: If you have fresh oregano on hand, it can be a great substitution for dried. Use about 3 tablespoons of freshly chopped oregano in place of 1 tablespoon dried.

    Serving Suggestions

    salvadorian cabbage slaw served with pupusas

    As mentioned, Salvadorian cabbage slaw is a standard accompaniment to Pupusas, which are stuffed corn patties similar to Arepas. Stay tuned, Pupusas will be our next post!

    It’s also mighty good on tacos, especially Beer Battered Fish Tacos and Baja Shrimp Tacos.

    As with regular slaw, it’s great with burgers, hot dogs or sandwiches. How about a Shrimp Po’ Boy with a side of Curtido? Yum!

    Variations

    • Herb Infusion: Swap out oregano for other herbs like cilantro or parsley for a different aromatic profile.
    • Extra Crunch: Add thinly sliced radishes to bring in another layer of crunch and a peppery kick.
    • Garlic Boost: For garlic lovers, a minced clove or two can add a lovely aromatic depth.
    • Citrus Twist: Use lime or lemon juice along with vinegar to add a citrusy note to the Curtido.

    How to Store Salvadorian Slaw

    Once the Curtido has cooled, keep it in a covered jar. Technically it does not need to be refrigerated, and you will find many Salvadorian households with a jar on the counter.

    However, refrigerating slows the fermentation process, so we recommend keeping it in the fridge for up to one week.

    Curtido is a Salvadorian fermented cabbage slaw traditionally served with pupusas, but it's also great with tacos, sandwiches and more!

    Give your slaw a Central American twist with this quick and easy Curtido recipe. You don’t even need the pupusas to enjoy this refreshing dish!

    Pin or bookmark this great recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new easy recipes for you!

    Curtido, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    More great veggie sides
    Asian Cucumber Salad
    Maque Choux
    Chakalaka
    Cherry Tomato Confit
    Greek Fasolaki
    Balela Salad

    featured image for curtido recipe

    Curtido (Salvadorian Slaw)

    Yield: 8 servings
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 20 minutes

    Curtido is a Salvadorian fermented cabbage slaw traditionally served with pupusas, but it's also great with tacos, sandwiches and more!

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 head cabbage, finely shredded
    • 2 carrots, julienne cut
    • 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
    • 1 jalapeno, finely sliced
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 cup white vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
    • 2 tsp salt

    Instructions

    1. Bring a pot of water to a low boil. Remove from heat, and add in cabbage. Allow to sit for 8-10 minutes, then drain the cabbage in a colander.
    2. In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots, onion and jalapeno.
    3. Whisk together water, vinegar, oregano and salt. Pour over the slaw mixture. Toss to combine.
    4. Transfer to a covered container or mason jars. Once cooled, refrigerate for up to 1 week.

    Notes

      1. Blanching the Cabbage: Don’t skip the step of briefly boiling the cabbage. This process softens it just enough to absorb the flavors better while retaining its crunch.
      2. Marination Time: Keep in mind that the flavors intensify over time. While you can enjoy it right away, for best taste let it marinate for at least 24 hours before serving.
      3. Spice Level: Feel free to adjust the amount of jalapeño based on your heat tolerance. You can even add red pepper flakes for extra spice.
      4. Sterilize Jars: If you plan to store the Curtido for an extended period, make sure to use sterilized mason jars to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.
      5. Fresh Oregano: If you have fresh oregano on hand, it can be a great substitution for dried. Use about 3 tablespoons of freshly chopped oregano in place of 1 tablespoon dried.

      Nutrition Information
      Yield 8 Serving Size 1
      Amount Per Serving Calories 28Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 596mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 2gSugar 3gProtein 1g

      Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

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      Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

      Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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