Spinach is a nutritious vegetable with a fine flavour. The trend throughout the West is of consuming more and more fresh spinach instead of tinned or frozen, and raw spinach leaves are increasingly used in salad. This recipe is based on a traditional southern Chinese method but, instead of serving the cooked spinach warm, I serve it cold. In the area around Canton there is a variety called water spinach, which has a milder taste and which, when cooked, presents a pleasing contrast between the crunchy stalk and soft leaves. It may sometimes be found in Chinese grocers and I encourage you to look for it to try, but ordinary fresh spinach will do very well.
Remove the stalks from the spinach and wash the leaves well. Blanch the leaves for a few seconds in a pan of boiling water until just wilted. Remove and freshen them in cold water to prevent further cooking. Drain the leaves in a colander, then place on a linen tea towel and squeeze out all the excess liquid. Arrange on a serving dish.
Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour over the spinach. This dish can remain at room temperature until ready to serve.
© 1995 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.