Around 2008, my twin brother Mike and I were living in Indianapolis, IN. One of our favorite restaurants in the city was a hole in the wall, smoky Salvadoran restaurant serving up the most delicious pupusas; the Salvadoran national dish. These cheese, bean, or meat filled masa cakes are griddled until crispy and often served with a slightly fermented cabbage slaw called curtido and tomato salsa on the side. In my mind, not much is more satisfying than these.
Since I have such a love for the pupusa and the curtido that accompanies it, I regularly make some variation of curtido to serve with richer dishes. It’s freshness and crunchy texture really compliments many foods and also gives me the acid fix I need. It’s no coincidence that almost every culture has their own version of fermented cabbage; think sauerkraut, kimchi, curtido, and more. You may even argue that coleslaw falls into this family of foods, although I often find it to be overdressed, overly sweet, and not appealing in the traditional american form.
For this sandwich we decided to use the baseball roast. It’s a cut from the lower portion of the sirloin that is near tenderloin in texture with half of the price tag and a deeper flavor. Since my cousin Phil and I were playing some type of real life chopped episode in his kitchen, I just used the coleslaw mix he had in the cooler as the base of the curtido. Easy Breezy, but shaving cabbage is no real leap either.
Curtido Style Slaw
1.5 Cups shaved cabbage or coleslaw blend
2 Tablespoon Shaved onion, soaked in cold water for several minutes
1 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1.5 Tablespoon vegetable oil, lard or other lightly flavored oil
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon lime juice
Baseball Roast, approx 2 lbs
Salt and Pepper
Build the sandwich
Chipotle chili powder
Aged, Sharp white cheddar cheese (optional)
Your favorite bread or bun (we used wheat rolls)