Curtido

published May 19, 2022
Curtido Recipe

A fresh, crunchy slaw, typically served with the classic Salvadoran dish pupusas, curtido brings a brightness to anything it touches.

Makesabout 4 cups

Prep15 minutes

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curtido (a lightly fermented cabbage relish or Salvadorian cabbage slaw) in a round, white bowl, with some peeled limes in the foreground
Credit: Laura Manzano

Along with Germany’s sauerkraut, Korea’s kimchi, and Haiti’s pikliz, El Salvador’s curtido proves once again that cabbage is a vegetable that is universally beloved. A fresh, crunchy slaw — typically served with the classic Salvadoran dish pupusas — curtido brings brightness to anything it touches.

What to Serve with Curtido

Curtido is most traditionally served with pupusas, which are small corn cakes stuffed with meat, beans, cheese, or a combination of all three. Curtido balances the starchy cake and rich filling, which also makes it a great filling for tacos — especially fried fish. Pile it into a rice bowl with stewed meat and lots of cilantro, layer it into a sandwich with sturdy bread, or serve it with any fatty meats to provide an acidic counterpoint.

Credit: Laura Manzano

How Thin Should I Cut My Cabbage?

The fun in curtido is in its customizability. Very thinly sliced cabbage will soften faster, producing a slightly less crunchy, more delicate slaw. Slice your cabbage slightly thicker, and the crunchy leaves will maintain their sturdiness even after a quick soak to take the raw off. Think of what you’ll use the curtido for, and feel free to slice to suit your needs! 

How Long Does Curtido Last?

The best part about curtido is that it only gets better with time. If you thought you didn’t know how to pickle something, you do now! Letting the cabbage sit in vinegar encourages fermentation and brings out unique flavors. If you’re planning on keeping your curtido around, be sure to give it a stir every few days just to redistribute flavors. Curtido is delicious after a few weeks, but you shouldn’t keep any leftovers in your fridge for longer than one month.

Curtido Recipe

A fresh, crunchy slaw, typically served with the classic Salvadoran dish pupusas, curtido brings a brightness to anything it touches.

Prep time 15 minutes

Makes about 4 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2

    medium green cabbage

  • 1/2

    large white onion

  • 2

    medium carrots

  • 1

    medium jalapeño pepper

  • 1

    medium lime

  • 1/2 cup

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Core and thinly slice 1/2 medium green cabbage until you have 5 cups. Place in a large bowl. Thinly slice 1/2 large white onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and add to the bowl. Add enough hot water to cover and let sit just until slightly softened and no longer completely raw, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, shake well to dry, and return to the bowl.

  2. Prepare the following, adding to the bowl of cabbage as you complete it: Peel and grate 2 medium carrots on the largeholes of a box grater or peel with a julienne peeler (about 1 cup). Thinly slice 1 medium jalapeño (as much or as little as you want, depending on your heat preference).

  3. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lime into a small bowl (about 1 teaspoon). Juice the lime into the bowl (about 2 tablespoons). Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Whisk until emulsified.

  4. Add to the cabbage mixture and toss thoroughly to combine.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Curtido can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month. It will continue to soften and gain flavor as it sits, just be sure to stir well before serving to redistribute the dressing.