Use Asian Slaw To Balance Rich Steak While Adding A Sweet Crunch

We usually accompany a succulent steak with equally rich side dishes like creamed spinach, scalloped potatoes, or lobster mac and cheese. While a double dose of decadence is a welcome indulgence sometimes, you could also take the opposite approach by pairing a rich steak with an opposing yet complementary dish. Asian slaw is the perfect choice to counter a steak's heavy, dense texture and intense savory flavor with a refreshing crunch, and a light, sweet, and sour flavor profile.

In contrast to coleslaw, slaw uses thinner, and lighter napa cabbage and an oil and vinegar-based dressing instead of creamy mayonnaise. The slaw is more like a fresh salad, featuring lettuce-like cabbage, shredded carrots, cilantro, and scallions tossed in a light, sweet, and sour dressing with toasted, nutty sesame oil and a mellow white wine or rice vinegar. A dash of sugar counteracts the vinegary acidity and tips the slaw into a sweeter realm.

The crunch of the cabbage and scallions, plus the herbal earthiness from the cilantro, and sweetness from the carrots and dressing will cut through the intensity of the red meat. In a similar way, sweet and sour sauces are popular in Asian cuisine and are often paired with savory meats like chicken and pork. Furthermore, Asian slaw works well with popular steak sauces that use savory, umami ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, mushrooms, blue cheese, and beef stock. So, you can use it to accompany a French-style steak as easily as steak elaborated with an Asian marinade.

Asian slaw upgrades for steak pairing

Asian slaw is a simple dish, using an easy blend of fresh raw vegetables, herbs, and an oil and vinegar dressing that's open to ingredient swaps and upgrades. Swapping sugar for honey makes for a more profound, floral sweetness to complement the cilantro and richness of steak. Adding minced garlic and ginger to the dressing would also brighten it up with aromatic spice. A dash of soy or tamari instead of salt adds an umami savoriness that would deepen the flavor and further complement the umami element of steak.

Lime juice, thinly sliced chilies, chili crisp, and sliced cherry tomatoes are all wonderful additions to an Asian slaw. Each of these ingredients offers distinct flavors that intensify the slaw's flavor, making it a worthier steak complement. You could even make the slaw into a more substantial salad-like foundation for an Asian-style sliced steak salad. If beef isn't your favorite, Asian slaw is also a great pairing for tempeh steaks, pork chops, or tuna steaks.

Napa cabbage is optimal for Asian slaw, but if you can't find it, you can use thinly sliced green and red cabbage for an Asian-inspired slaw. You could even buy prepackaged coleslaw-vegetable mixes to save yourself the prep time. A thicker green cabbage will add heft to the slaw and a more intense brassica flavor, but it's nothing a rich, juicy steak can't handle.