So I have a bunch of oriental spinach. The most logical thing to do, is to do a very typical Cantonese dish with it. Oh no, not all Chinese greens are stir-fried. Some, like the oriental spinach, are best served in a braised seafood sauce. I bet you have never had this in your local Chinese takeaway in the US or Europe! *giving a disdainful look*
The Cantonese people are China’s experts in seafood.
Seafood meaning not just fish and prawns. They mean literally every moving organism that is edible in the sea. From clams and lobsters to the inner stomach linings of fish. Cantonese seafood philosophy dictates that seafood has to come from the sea – any prawns or fish from the river are sub-standard products!
This recipe normally calls for sea cucumber but this is not available in Europe, unless you are adventurous enough to scavenge it on your own.
Another thing to note is the importance of the chicken stock.
For my general cooking habits, I always have a top quality chicken stock on my stove. I use the carcass of an older free-range farm chicken, cooked with 2 cloves of garlic and an inch of ginger and 4 tbs of Shaoxing rice wine together with a pot of water for about 5 hours. I save the meat for other uses. The resulting stock is a very tasty full-flavoured broth that the Chinese use in their cooking to replace water.
- 5-6 stalks of oriental spinach (rinsed and dried)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 5 dried shitake mushrooms
- 7-10 dried fish maw (you can get these in a Thai supermarket)
- 5-6 canned abalone
- 500ml quality chicken stock
- 3 tps corn starch
- 100ml water
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- 1 tbs oyster sauce
- 1 tbs Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tbs of vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Serving: 2 persons
- Soak the dried shitake mushrooms and fish maw in boiling water. Set aside for about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, open your can of abalone. Drain and slice horizontally to get broad slices. Set aside.
- For the shitake mushrooms, once soft, cut off and discard the stalk. Set aside.
- Rinse your fish maw repeatedly in water to get rid of the oil. Squeeze dry and set aside.
- Cut your oriental spinach in sections of 10cm long.
- In a small pot, bring to boil some water and blanch the spinach very quickly for about 10 seconds. Drain and place in the centre of your serving plate.
- On top of the spinach, place the slices of abalone.
- Heat up a saucepan on medium fire, add in your oil and sautee the minced garlic.
- Add your shitake mushrooms, sautee for about 10 seconds, then add your chicken stock and bring to boil.
- Once boiling, turn heat down to simmer. Add the fish maw, oyster sauce and light soy sauce.
- In a small bowl, add 100ml of water to your corn starch, dissolve and slowly stir into the simmering saucepan.
- Once the sauce is thickened, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the spinach and abalone, serve immediately.
*Note: Do not replace the oriental spinach with normal spinach. If you wish to find out what oriental spinach is, here is my explanation.