Monday, November 24, 2008

Stir-Fry Chinese Spinach (Polunchay) and the Secrets to a Chinese Vegetable Stir-Fry

I confess Hubby is the real vegetable lover in this family. He has healthier eating habits ( and exercises) more than I do. As I have mentioned several times before, he has to see "greens" on the table with every meal. This means I have to serve vegetables with our every meal. I have learned to love vegetables as well, since we got married (many, many years ago) and I am happy that our kids learned to eat vegetables while they are still young. I did not have to "train" my kids to finish their vegetables. I suppose it happens naturally if you serve it everyday, every meal. And of course, we have to serve it in different delicious ways. :)

The vegetable featured today is the Chinese Spinach. We call it Po Lun Cai in Fookien Chinese. It contains significant amounts of Vitamins A, B and C. And when I googled about Chinese Spinach, I found out that it contains twice the amount of iron than the regular or Western Spinach. Thus, this vegetable is highly favored in Asia. Again, as with most leafy green vegetables, it is recommended that we do not cook the polunchay too long or the dish will lose most of its nutritional content. That is why, a quick stir-fry is a perfect cooking method with most vegetables.

Through trial and errors, through various experiments, I have discovered a variety ways to make our stir-fry vegetables more delicious and tasty. If you have kids, you would understand the need to make your veggie dish more attractive and flavorful... Here are some of them:

1. If you are particularly worried about vegetables containing pesticides, and other industrial chemical contaminants, a quick 2-second blanch in boiling hot water is recommended after washing the vegetables. This would also give you a " brighter" and "greener" vegetable dish.

2. Use good quality peanut oil or grapeseed oil, in the cooking. And add some drops of sesame oil after the cooking. Do not cook the vegetables in sesame oil, as the sesame oil changes its smell and taste when subject to high heat.

3. Add lots of garlic in your stir-fry, as much as your taste buds can take it. Garlic is healthy anyway. It would add more flavor to the dish. And do not let garlic burn when sauteing, as it will turn bitter.

4. If you are not adding any meat or seafood to flavor your vegetable, instead of flavoring with MSG or bouillon cubes, add a spoon or two of Chinese cooking wine to remove the "green" or "herby" taste of the vegetable.

5. Always use high heat, hot wok (or cooking pan) when sauteing and with quick hands, stir, stir, stir, all the time. It would only take a minute or two, so you will not really get tired. This is to mix all the flavors in the shortest time possible.

5 T peanut oil
300 gms Chinese Spinach (Polunchay)
5 T minced garlic
2 T cooking wine
1 T soy sauce
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar, optional (my kids just like their veggies sweeter)
dash of sesame oil

1. Clean and blanch the spinach.

2. Heat oil in wok, and saute the garlic until fragrant but not burnt. Add the cooking wine and soy sauce and sugar. When the mixture boils, add in the spinach. Stir fry and mix everything up to allow the spinach to absorb all the flavors. Turn the heat off.

3. Adjust taste with salt and pepper. Add the sesame oil and serve immediately.

Result? A very quick dish (5 minutes - max) that is tasty, flavorful and nutritious!

Sharing this dish with the Weekend Herb Blogging Community, supervised by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once. This week's host is
Scott of The Real Epicurean. To see last week's array of wonderful dishes, please check out Siri's Corner.


Anonymous said...

This looks great. Very simple, very healthy, very delicious.

I'm with your husband on the vegetables, I must say. I've almost developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder about them! Even if the main course is vegetarian, I find I have to make another dish with vegetables, just to have three of them on the table.

Ivy said...

I wish I could say the same about my family but we don't miss the vegetables that much. There's an award for you on my blog.

Yasmeen said...

I love to try all kinds of greens.The stir fry looks very healthy..thanks for sharing your flavoring secrets:)

Jescel said...

hmnn... i love green veggies, they're healthy.. this one looks delish!

noobcook said...

Really love the way you cook your greens and yes, they look so perfect :)

Unknown said...

hey, thanks for the tip... po lun chai is a favorite here... :)

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hi Fearless Kitchen! Hubby is also obsessive about having vegetables. But this is certainly a good obsessiveness everybody should have!!! :)

Hello Ivy! Thank you so very much for the honor!!! :)

Hello Yasmeen! I have to try to make veggies interesting, because veggies are good! :)

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks Jescel and Noobcook!

Hi Mikky! Polunchay is an easy-to-love green. It is already sweet in itself... :)

Anonymous said...

Haven't tried polunchay yet. Where did you buy it? And I like your way of stir frying with cooking wine.


eatingclubvancouver_js said...

I didn't know there was a difference between Chinese spinach and the regular spinach. I've never seen them side by side.

Thanks for the tip re stirfrying vegetables. I'm usually too lazy to blanch the vegetables though. ;)

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hello Gay! I think you can get polunchay at Market Market or the Salcedo Market. I live in Northern Manila, so the markets here are far from where you are. :)

Hi JS! Next time, I will take a picture of the veggies in their raw state. :)

Jaya M said...

Great to see this stir/fry.Even my hubby insists on having greens and this is a great way to eat even a regular spinach.We dont get polunchay here ...
Thanks for the tips about stir/fry .
hugs and smiles said...

hi!nice blog!...

would you know where to get a decent bottle of peanut oil?

im from cebu and ive scoured the chinese stores downtown and nobody seems to carry peanut oil

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Gilroy Garlic said...

Totally love that Fresh Garlic!

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