Garden of Eating
A simple combination of sugar, salt, and rice wine adds flavor to stir fried spinach. Top with toasted sesame seeds.

Stir-fried garlic spinach

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

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:

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.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Stir-fried garlic spinach
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today