I've read few cookbooks as interesting as The Hakka Cookbook, Sunset Magazine recipe editor and food writer Linda Anusasananan's exploration of her Hakka Chinese roots through the cuisine that the culture's global diaspora has developed. Check out my interview with her in this week's food and drink issue Feast for more on Hakka bites, and the journey that led her to write what may be the first cookbook that shares them with the rest of the world. Better yet, do that and then make the recipe below, an easily-prepared vegetarian dish that works as a fab autumn side dish. Spinach is in-season through the end of November here in the Bay Area.
Stir-Fried Spinach and Peanuts
At Lao Hanzi, in Beijing, we ate a platter of stir-fried spinach laced with peanuts. The nuts lend substance, texture, and a heartier flavor to the greens.
Makes 4 servings as part of a multi-course meal
10 to 12 ounces spinach
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1. Trim and discard the yellow leaves, tough stems and roots off the spinach. Wash the spinach thoroughly and drain well to make 8 to 10 cups.
2. Set a 14-inch wok or 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, about 1 minute, add the oil and rotate the pan to spread. Add the peanuts, garlic, and salt. Stir-fry until the peanuts are lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Increase the heat to high and add the spinach. (If all the spinach doesn’t fit the frying pan, add about half and turn just until it slightly wilts and shrinks, then add the remainder.) Stir-fry until the spinach is barely wilted, 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in the vinegar. Transfer to a serving dish.