Of all the riches and indulgences enjoyed by my Russian uncle and his friends, lobster was the favorite, and since Russians like nothing better than to debate possible alternatives or slightly different treatments of the food they are eating, nothing brought out more heated discussion than lobster—how to cook it and what to drink with it. The decision was that it had to be served with my aunt’s coleslaw, potato chips, and pilsner.
The key to the success of this coleslaw, I was gently but very firmly told, is to soak the cabbage in ice water in the refrigerator for four hours. Then the dressed slaw has to sit in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to achieve perfectly melded flavors and textures.
Discard any of the outer leaves of the cabbage that are wilted or discolored. Cut the cabbage in half from top to bottom and cut out the core. Put each half, cut side down, on a board and cut into ½-inch slices. Put the cabbage in a large bowl, cover with cold water and ice cubes, and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Cut each tomato half into four pieces. Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, fresh and powdered ginger, and mustard in a bowl. Drain the cabbage very well, put in the bowl with the sauce, and mix thoroughly.
Season with salt and pepper, add the tomatoes, and toss lightly. Refrigerate covered for 2 hours. Toss one more time before serving the coleslaw, very cold.
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