The other day I tried to dial back the culinary clock about 20 years to a dinner that my husband and I had at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Culver City on the Westside of Los Angeles. It was a tiny spot located in a nondescript strip mall with one lone cook, a woman who was more like a generous auntie than a restaurant owner. I can’t recall much of the meal except for a red cabbage salad, which was bright, peppery and full of crunch. I went home and recreated it the next day. We had it in our rotation of quick and vibrant vegetable side dishes for weeks.
Then I shelved it, only to recently revive it this week when I wanted a salad that would go cut through some of the richness of some grilled pork. The dish came together in a flash with a little resting time for the ingredients to mellow and meld. Just as I remembered, the salad can withstand a fair amount of black pepper. It’s technically a slaw type of salad and it happily absorbs vinegar and other kinds of acidic seasonings.