Thirty or more years ago a friend invited us to a Chinese dinner. One dish she served was stir-fried spinach with garlic. It was magnificent yet simple; surprisingly the spinach leaves maintained their shape somewhat and were glazed with oil and garlic bits.
Every time I stir-fry spinach I wind up with a sodden knotted mess that is virtually impossible to untangle.
In 'Modern Art of Chinese Cooking' the late Barbara Tropp recommends blanching the spinach briefly before stir-frying. I cannot see how this would help retain the spinach leaf shape.
Can anyone enlighten me?
By the way, my friend cannot even recall making this dish let alone the technique she used. She brushes it off as simple one-time good luck!
The only way I can see it working as you described is if she first stirfried the aromatics for a few seconds then tossed the flavored oil with the spinach in a separate bowl. That might make the spinach a bit limper, making it feel cooked in the mouth. I still wouldn't try it with baby spinach.
Unless simon's right and it wasn't spinach at all....