I love yin choi because the texture is smooth when I cook it with minimal oil, unlike other dark green veggies which can be gritty. It goes very well with dried anchovies, and yin choi in dried anchovy stock – with maybe some fishballs or pork meatballs – makes a quick, delicious soup. Or it can be stir fried with dried anchovies that have been fried till crispy. That's also quite nice.
When I'm tired of pairing yin choi with dried anchovies, I use a mix of century and salted eggs. And the veggies are poached, a nice change from soups and stir fries. I love the dish 'cause it's fresh tasting and there's hardly any oil. I first had it in Chinese restaurants and after ordering it several times, I decided to hack the recipe. I thought it should be an easy dish to make at home, and I was right. It's just poaching a few leaves. How difficult can that be? Sometimes, I use yin choi; other times, I use kow kei (枸杞, aka boxthorn and matrimony vine) like the restaurant version. Nothing to it at all.
Have I stopped ordering poached spinach in restaurants after poaching the recipe? Nope, 'cause I really like the dish. Besides, we should always eat lots of veggies whether we're eating in or out, right?
|CHINESE SPINACH WITH SALTED AND CENTURY EGGS (苋菜金银蛋)
(Recipe for 4 persons)
1 cooked salted egg, peeled and diced
1 cooked century egg, peeled and diced
350 g Chinese spinach (yin choi, 苋菜)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp oil
1 cup robust chicken stock
2½ tsp light soya sauce
Remove roots from yin choi. Wash thoroughly and drain. Cut into pieces 7-8 cm (3 inches) long. If stems seem old and woody, don't use a knife. Break into pieces by hand, tearing off some of the peel as you do so. This helps make the stems more tender.
Blanch spinach briefly in boiling water with salt and oil. Drain and gently simmer in chicken stock, covered, till just soft and still quite green, 3-4 minutes. Add or reduce stock as necessary. There should be enough to cover 30-40% of the spinach. Drizzle with light soya sauce. Stir gently to mix well. Remove spinach to a plate, minus stock. Or skip this step if you prefer everything all jumbled together. Add salted and century eggs to the pot (or whatever you're using). Bring back to a boil. Simmer for 30 seconds, with a few gentle stirs. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer everything to a plate, or pour eggs and stock over spinach removed earlier. Serve immediately.