Strips of sliced cabbage echo the shape of the noodles in our version of a familiar Chinese dish. Cooked briefly, the cabbage wilts slightly but keeps some crunch.
Cook linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, return to pot, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar, and red-pepper flakes; set mixture aside.
While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add shrimp and half the garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate (reserve skillet).
Place cabbage, remaining garlic, and 1/2 cup water in skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes. To pot with linguine, add cabbage, soy-sauce mixture, and shrimp; toss to combine. Serve, garnished with cilantro, if desired.