Actually I have a hard time to name this dish. While I knew locally we called this xian cai (苋菜）as spinach but I do not know why it is called as such. It does cause some misunderstandings to overseas readers as spinach (菠菜 or bo cai) is the type of vegetable that Popeye loves to eat. But these two vegetables are totally different in terms of appearance and taste. I have therefore decided to name it as Chinese spinach and it is a type of amaranth .
This vegetable is a common vegetable for Chinese households. It is one of the very first vegetables that we served babies. This vegetable is believed to be very nutritional and suitable for all age groups. I remembered when my kids was 5 months old, we chopped this vegetables and boil with porridge and they like it very much. Of course, this recipe does not come into picture until very recently when they are more and more Cantonese restaurants are serving this dish. Home cooked version is much simpler and my late mum usually just stir fry with garlic or anchovies or we make soup with pork ribs.
I knew this dish is common in Hong Kong restaurants but I can’t trace the origin of the dish. To me this dish is rather unusual as it a vegetable dish served in a pool of meat broth. Not many vegetables were cooked or braised with meat broth. Usually, vegetable dishes are much drier. One of the probable reasons may because of the need to stew the vegetable longer such that it is softer. In order to make it more appealing, century eggs and salted eggs are added to the dish and i am puzzling why these eggs were added. With all the queries in my mind, the eggs blends well with the dish.
To me, though it is a restaurant dish, it can easily be replicated at home and therefore it also qualifies as a simple household dish. The tastiness of the dish will depends on the meat broth that you used. In this illustration, I neither boil my own meat broth nor used the store bought chicken stock. I think it make more sense in a house setting where the dishes are to be cooked and served quickly, chicken stock powder will be sufficient. Of course if you have stock up your own meat broth, that will be ideal.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 3-4 adult servings
- 1 bundle of Chinese spinach
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of goji berries
- 1 century egg
- 1 salted egg, cooked
- 1 teaspoon of Chicken stock powder
- Dashes of white paper
- Pinches of salt
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Cut the century eggs and salted eggs into small pieces.
- Separate the leaves and the stems of the Chinese spinach. Peel off the skin if it is too tough to break.
- In a wok, put 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, sauté the garlic cloves until light brown and aromatic. Add the stem of the Chinese spinach, stir fry for 1 minute before adding the leaves.
- Add about 1-2 cups of water (depending on the size of wok), bring the water to boil and once it boils, let it simmer for additional 3-4 minutes.
- Before dishing out, add salt, dashes of white pepper, chicken stock powder, century eggs and salted eggs. Quick stir until well mixed. Off the heat and the dish is ready to be served.
I honestly believed that not many readers will require this simple dish but I need to blog it for records. Hopefully it will benefit new house chefs.
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