Chinese Spinach in Superior Broth (上汤菠菜/苋菜)
Spinach in superior broth (上汤菠菜) is a dish which I always order when I eat out at zi char stalls or Chinese restaurants. I love this dish and I love all the different versions of it – those with clear broth, with or without wolfberries & century egg, and also those with thicker broth that usually comes with salted eggs as well. This recipe is the one with century egg/wolfberries. I think the main reason I like this dish so much is because it is like both a vegetable dish and soup dish in one.
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This dish has been one of my recent home cooking experiments since it’s my favourite and I find it expensive to order it outside all the time (for some weird reason, it even costs more than some meat dishes). I took more than 10 attempts in total to finalize the recipe but I think it’s worth it! It only costs me about S$2 for the ingredients. It is both a vegetable and soup recipe in one – so very healthy and delicious! I actually bought all the different types of Chinese spinach for my cooking experiments (not all on the same day, of course) and now I think I can now spot a spinach leaf a mile away, lol (see cooking note below for the type of spinach suitable for cooking this dish).
- 250g Chinese spinach, ends trimmed, separate stems and leaves (see cooking note 1 below)
- 1 tbsp white bait, rinsed and patted dry
- 3 tbsp olive oil/vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced thinly
- 1/2 to 1 century egg, yolk portion cut to smaller pieces (see cooking variation note 1 and cooking note 2 below)
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Hua Diao or Shaoxing) (optional)
Sauce mixture (dissolve everything)
- 200ml ikan bilis (anchovies) stock (or you can cheat by dissolving 200 ml hot water with 1/4 knorr ikan bilis cube)
- 1/2 tsp abalone sauce (I use fortune brand)
- pinch of sugar
1. Heat oil, deep fry white bait till crispy (about 3 minutes or more) and set aside.
2. Using remaining oil in wok, add garlic slices and stir fry till garlic is slightly browned.
3. Add spinach stems and stir fry about a minute or so. Then add spinach leaves and stir fry till all the leaves are wilted.
4. Add sauce mixture and century egg pieces. Bring to a quick boil and simmer for about a minute. If using Chinese wine, drizzle some along the side of the wok and you’ll smell the aroma of the wine in a few seconds. Off the flame.
5. Portion to a serving dish and top with the previously fried white bait you prepared in step 1.
1. If you do not like century eggs, you can substitute with wolfberries instead. Soak 1 tsp of wolfberries in water till they are puffy. Instead of adding century eggs in step 4, add the soaked wolfberries.
2. You can add all types of ingredients to jazz up the dish. For example, you can add fresh white scallops, dried scallops or mushrooms.
1. Types of Chinese spinach which I think is suitable for this dish:
a) My favourite spinach to use for this dish is the one labelled “Spinach” (sumatera highland) 菠菜 by freshharvest sold at NTUC (Singapore). The stems are short, and both the leaves and stems are very soft and tender after cooking.
b) Sharp spinach and round spinach – I cut off most of the bottom stems and for the upper stem portions, I snap them to shorter lengths and pull off the “threads” so that the stems are not woody.
c) Chinese baby spinach – I trim off the ends. Because the stems are very thin, I do not separate the stems and leaves before adding to the wok.
2. If you add century egg to the sauce to boil, note that the soup will become slightly murky. Skip this if you do not like century egg or prefer a clearer broth.
3. You can thicken the soup with cornstarch solution if you like thicker soup. I prefer it to be more soupy.
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