Stir-fried garlic spinach

Fresh spinach stir fried with a few seasonings and garlic makes a tasty side dish in minutes.

By , Garden of Eating

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    A simple combination of sugar, salt, and rice wine adds flavor to stir fried spinach. Top with toasted sesame seeds.
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This spinach has earned a permanent place in my kitchen repertoire. It's so tasty, so fast, and so easy that I just can't quit it. Not that I'd ever want to quit it!

It comes by way of Grace Young's lovely cookbook, "The Breath of a Wok," which my husband gave me as a gift after we returned from a trip to Southeast Asia what feels like a lifetime ago (we were so young).

I've been making Auntie Yi's stir-fried garlic spinach ever since. It's so easy that I always feel a little like I'm cheating somehow. The seasoning is incredibly simple – a tablespoon of rice mirin mixed with equal parts sugar and salt. There are just two things that you need to do to make this a truly stand-out dish:

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1. Use really fresh, flavorful spinach – it makes a huge difference in the taste.

2. Get your wok (or wide, flat-bottomed pan if you don't have a wok) really, really hot and don't crowd the spinach. If you want to make more than one bunch of spinach, do it in two batches to ensure you can really stir-fry it effectively.

When I saw the first spinach of the season from Taliaferro Farms in the produce section of my health food store last week, looking all gorgeous and tender and a practically radioactive shade of green that only occurs in the spring, I knew this would be on the menu. A little washing and drying, chopping, mixing, and stir-frying and we were in business. As always, it was so good!

Stir-fried garlic spinach 
Minimally adapted from Grace Young's excellent book "The Breath of a Wok"
Serves 4 as a side

2 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 bunch fresh spinach (about 10 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cane sugar

1 tablespoon rice mirin or dry sherry

1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1. Heat a 14-inch flat bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

2. Add all the spinach and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

3. Add the salt, sugar and rice wine and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until the spinach is just tender but still bright green. Garnish with the sesame seeds (if you like) and serve.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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