How to make spinach w/garlic
There is no balsamic vinegar in Chinese spinach and garlic.
After years of eatting it in both China and in Chinese restaurants at home I have found the following method does not disappoint the family.
Wash spinach. Bring large pot of water ---salted---to boil.
Heat oil [peanut or canola] in a wok. When oil is hot, add chopped garlic and TURN OFF the heat. this allows garlic to cook lightly and infuse without burning.
When water is boiling, take strainer and load with spinach. Dip in and out of the water--in essence blanch spinach. Quickly shake off excess water and toss directly into still pretty hot wok. Stir around to coat spinach with garlicly oil and serve.
Until I started doing it this way, the biggest problem I had was not burning garlic or overcooking the spinach. This method doesn't over cook spinach or the garlic.
And by the way, in my experience, the "Chinese" spinach has a completely different name in Chinese than in English and a completely different taste. If original poster's husband is raving about spinach i'm pretty sure he means spinach because he would have known the difference or someone would have told him.
It seems like a lot of these recipes are for an Italian-style spinach and garlic, which is likely not what your husband has been eating in the middle of China. More likely he is having something along these lines:
Wash 1 lb. spinach leaves, do not dry. In a wok, heat peanut oil and stir fry 2 minced cloves of garlic with a touch of ginger. When garlic starts to brown, add spinach and stir fry until wilted. Towards the end, add a splash of oyster sauce, some red chili flakes and a touch of sesame oil if you're so inclined.
I do it with just 4 ingredients:
heat pan with a swirl of olive oil
add heaps and heaps of baby spinach (cleaned, obviously)
lower heat, and chop a few cloves of fresh garlic
add to pan and move them around a bit
top with good, grated parm. let it melt with residual heat.
a little cracked black pepper & yer done
re: Boccone Dolce
Thanks for everyone's invaluable advice. I made this dish and it was delicious and simple - not very close to what I remember from China but as above that's just a function of the type of spinach I used I bet. I started w/olive oil, onion and plenty of garlic - I'd skip the onion next time perhaps - a tad overwhelming; threw the spinach in and tossed for no longer than 4 mins. Added balsamic and red pepper flakes toward the end. Delicious. i'll keep trying variations of the recipes above. Thanks again.
If you're using balsamic and red pepper it might be good but I doubt it would taste like the dish you had in China. Omit the balsamic and red pepper and just use oil, garlic, salt and spinach, and stir-fry in a very hot pan or wok. If you still need moreflavor you can also try throwing in a bit of chicken stock, but I never do.
Wash spinach and do not drain. Heat wok and just a bit of neutral oil, toss in minced garlic and touch of grated ginger. Toss in wet spinach and dab of soy sauce, cover and hold lid with one hand and toss with the other so that the spinach is not weighted down as a blob on the bottom of the wok. Splash of white wine if needed to keep the leaves moist. Time needed is as long as it takes for the spinach to wilt down. Serve with spritz of lime. The key is having just enough and not too much moisture.
Seasoned Fresh Spinach
2 bunches fresh bunch spinach(stem & leaf, not the bagged leaves) [about 24 ounces]
2 green onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 to 3 tablspoons sesame oil (to taste)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed
salt to taste
1 tablespoon Sogogi Dashida (powdered beef soup stock) instead of salt*
*(or substitute your favorite powdered soup mix or bullion)
Wash spinach thoroughly in cold water.
Mince three of the garlic cloves
Thin slice the other three cloves
In a soup pot, bring 1 quart of water to full boil.
Completely immerse spinach in the boiling water.
Remove from heat at 30 to 45 seconds (no longer than 1 minute) and rinse immediately in cold water.
Squeeze excess water from spinach.
Place spinach in a medium mixing bowl then add all ingredients and mix well.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Variation: Prepare as above but add 1 teaspoon or more of coarse ground dried red chili.
I too agree with HaagenDazs for the mature Spinach. One other thing I would recommend is to steam the spinach in a Bamboo steamer instead of frying or (God forbid :) boiling.
It really makes a difference. It cooks delicate things quickly while retaining texture and that magnificent green color. They are really inexpensive and you can find them in almost any Asian market. I use it to steam most greens.
Happy eating, Oana
My recipe is basically pan sauteeing not frying. You can even add a little chicken broth which I always have on hand to give a little moisture, but it cooks so quick I usually don't need it. I use the chicken broth when I am making chard or kale which takes longer to cook. Spinach is so quick 2-3 minutes and done.
I used to do that as well until I discovered the steamer. It really makes a difference in the texture and color. I do the same for Kale and Chard. You do have to shake the water off but afterward but it really keeps the integrity in tact.
That being said I sauteed some Cavolo Nero yeaterday and gool lord was it good! :)
Happy eating, Oana
If I may, another way to cook the spinach and garlic is to sautee as kchuchill5 mentioned but add a few anchovy fillets.. either the ones in oil or if salted - rinse them off first. No vinegar.... just some red pepper flakes near the end of cooking. Remember to cook just until the spinach is wilted...and toss in the oily goodness before serving.
The other thing to consider is that probably your husband had Chinese Water Spinach which is a different vegetable than our regular supermarket variety.
This link tells you all about it and gives some recipes as well....You might try some for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
I saute a shallot or small onion in some olive oil and butter 1 tablespoon or each, add the garlic 1 tablespoon for me and cook until lightly soft. Then add the spinach (I use one bag a baby spinach pre washed) I do not let it cook too long, just to get it wilted. Toss to cover all the spinach. Once the spinach is wilted I add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a little squeeze of lemon if you have it, but not necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. 5 minutes tops.
I can say that baby spinach in bags is very convenient (I use them too so don't get me wrong) but if you're truly trying to recreate the dish I would suggest using large leaf spinach that you find in the regular refrigerated produce coolers. The flavor is MUCH better. Instead of salt, try soy sauce.