Southeast Asian-style Napa Cabbage Salad with Chile-crusted Grilled Chicken and Peanut-lime Dressing

Cooks in the tropical world have a tendency to turn to cabbage for their salads, since it holds up better in hot weather than more tender greens. We like it because it has a nice little bite to it, and also has a great crunchy consistency. Here it provides the perfect foil for a lively peanut-lime dressing and grilled chicken breasts given mouth-searing tropical heat with a rub of chiles and white pepper.

Recipe courtesy of "Grill It!" by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, copyright 2008. Used by permission of DK Publishing. All rights reserved.

Southeast Asian-style Napa Cabbage Salad with Chile-crusted Grilled Chicken and Peanut-lime Dressing

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    2-4 tablespoons minced fresh chile peppers of your choice, to taste 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
    2 tablespoons freshly cracked white pepper (or substitute black pepper) 2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
    3 tablespoons kosher salt 3 Tbsp. Southeast Asian fish sauce
    4 boneless, skinless split chicken breasts (cutlets), about 8 oz (225 g) each 2 Tbsp. finely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
    1/2 head Napa cabbage, cut crosswise into thin strips 1 Tbsp. sugar
    1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and cut into thin strips 1 Tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
    1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves 1 tsp. minced garlic
    1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves


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    • 1

      Build a fire in your grill. When the coals are all ignited, the flames have died down, and the temperature is medium-hot (see Gauging the temperature), you’re ready to cook.

    • 2

      Combine all the dressing ingredients (lime juice, fish sauce, peanuts, sugar, ginger and garlic) in a small bowl, whisk to blend well, then set aside.

    • 3

      Combine the minced chiles, white pepper, and salt in another small bowl and mix well. Rub the chicken generously with this spice mixture, then put it over the coals and grill until opaque all the way through (6–8 minutes per side, depending on thickness). To check for doneness, cut into one cutlet and peek in to be sure that it is opaque all the way through. Set the chicken aside to cool slightly.

    • 4

      Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and herbs in a large bowl. Slice the chicken crosswise into thin strips, then cut the slices into bite-size pieces and add to the salad. Stir the dressing again, add just enough to moisten the salad (there will probably be some dressing left over), toss to coat, and serve.

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