Browsing in my local supermarket the other day, I spotted a living salad tray that contained Chinese spinach. It’s not something I have ever encountered before, and in truth, it’s not actually that different from the ‘regular’ spinach you find on supermarket shelves, though it does release a deliciously earthy liquor when it is wilted down. This makes it an ideal choice for a stir-fry, where all that flavor can be used to enhance the sauce.If you can’t find Chinese spinach, use ordinary spinach, or substitute it for pak choi.
1generous bunch spinachabout 1 pound, stems trimmed at the end, rinsed in 2 changes water
2teaspoonsdark sesame oil
2tablespoonssaltfor rinsing prawns
Place the prawns in a large colander and rinse with water. Sprinkle generously with salt and toss together for about a minute. Rinse with water and repeat. After rinsing one more time, drain on paper towels. Pat dry with more paper towels.
Combine 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (to taste) and the sugar in a small bowl and place close to your wok.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the garlic, ginger and chili flakes and stir-fry for no more than 10 seconds. Push to the sides of the pan and add the prawns in one layer. Let cook undisturbed for 1 minute, then add the remaining oil and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add the sesame seeds and spinach and stir-fry for 1 minute, until it has begun to wilt but the wilting is still uneven. Add the salt and sugar, sprinkling it evenly over the spinach, and continue to stir-fry until the spinach has wilted but is still bright and the prawns are cooked through and bright pink, about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat, drizzle on the sesame oil, toss together, and serve alone or, with rice or noodles
There are lots of variations of this depending on what you have on hand. We like being able to use lots of spinach that we get from Costco along with the prawns. You can also make this with smaller shrimp, chicken, pork, or hard tofu.