While this salad might not have anything to do with authentic Chinese food, but it's deliciously refreshing—and simple and flexible enough that all the ingredients are accessible anywhere. You can easily throw it together with various leftovers, but it's also worthy of a special shopping trip.
In terms of the salad vegetable components, you need the cabbage and one or two other vegetables. Everything else is an optional add-on: Put them all in the salad or use a combination (I like cabbage, scallions, and carrots). —Sara Jenkins
For the chicken:
whole black peppercorn
head garlic, sliced in half
One 1-inch piece ginger, crushed with the side of a knife
A few sprigs cilantro
scallion, cut into 3 to 4 pieces
large chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
For the salad and dressing:
medium carrot, cut into matchstick-size slivers on a mandoline
mung bean sprouts
cucumber, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch moons
scallions, both the white and green parts, cut thin on the bias
To the water, add the salt and all the aromatics and bring up to a boil. Drop the chicken breasts in, stir, and let just come back up to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit, covered in the pot at room temperature, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pull the chicken out and set aside to cool. You can strain the water and save it for a tasty soup addition another day or you can throw it all out.
Meanwhile, shred the napa cabbage by cutting the head in half and then slicing into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide ribbons. Toss with the carrots, sprouts, cucumbers, scallions, and radishes. Whisk the dressing ingredients—sesame oil, lime juice, and dark soy sauce—together and pour over the vegetables.
Using your hands, shred the cooled chicken and add to the salad. If you want, you could let it all marinate together for about 15 minutes or so. When you are ready to serve it, add in the herb leaves and the sesame seeds and toss together. Serve garnished with the crispy fried shallots