Central American · Side dish

Curtido

Curtido or encurtido is a type of lightly fermented cabbage relish. It is typical in Central American cuisine, and is usually made with cabbage, onions, carrots, oregano, and sometimes lime juice. On Costa Rican tables, it is also really common to see a mason jar of spicy, pickled vegetables (chilero) which you add to your meals. It is essentially the same as giardineria in Italy. Curtido is a bit similar to American coleslaw in function, but with spice and without mayonnaise. It is really fresh and crunchy and goes on so many dishes.

While you often serve it with pupusas, we add it to all kinds of dishes to provide an acidic, textured punch: stir fry, hot dogs, with fish, crab cakes or sandwiches.

You will need:

  • ½ head green cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • Chiles* optional

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, and carrots. Pour the boiling water over the vegetables and toss. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, drain.
  2. Combine the vinegar, lime juice, oregano, salt, and chiles** in a measuring cup. Pour over the slaw and toss to coat. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer the curtido and any leftover liquid in the bowl to an airtight container.
  3. Chill for at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator or overnight for best results. This will keep for about 4-5 days.

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