Over the long weekend, I spend some time with Julia Turshen's Small Victories, and came home eager to try her cabbage-massaging technique. I've since learned it works very well — it encourages the cabbage to relax, which allows it to nicely soak up the dressing.
Carrots: I like to use a mandoline, because the pieces look so pretty. If you can find fat carrots, this makes mandoline work easier. When you get down to the bottom of the carrot, simply slice it up with a knife or eat the pieces as a snack. Alternatively, shred it with a box grater or the shredder attachment of a food processor. —Alexandra Stafford
chicken breasts, about 1 lb., optional
cabbage, Savoy or Napa or whatever you have
red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 to 3
carrots, thinly sliced, see notes above
scallions, thinly sliced
small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped to yield about 1 cup
small red onion, thinly sliced
plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
If you are using the chicken, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Drop in the chicken breasts. Cover the pot. Remove pot from heat. Let stand 15 minutes. Uncover. Remove breasts. Let cool briefly. Pull/shred into pieces.
Meanwhile, remove the core from the cabbage. Thinly slice the cabbage and place in a large bowl. Pour in the oil. Sprinkle evenly with the salt. Massage the cabbage with your hands. Really squeeze it firmly until it shrinks in size and becomes more saturated in hue.
To the bowl of cabbage, add the peppers, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and red onion. Add the chicken, if using.
Make the dressing: Stir together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and Sriracha. Pour over the bowl of vegetables. Toss to coat evenly. Taste. Adjust with more salt or Sriracha as needed.