Sunday, May 22, 2011

Suan Bo Cai (Garlic Spinach)

Garlic Spinach (Suan Bo Cai)

While this dish is not familiar to most Westerners as a Chinese concoction, the cooking style—often translated as “stir-fried with garlic sauce”—is commonly seen on restaurant menus that cater to a large Chinese clientele, wherein Dou Miao (pea shoots) is the best example. Spinach, readily available in western markets, is an excellent variation. Almost any leafy vegetable—bai cai or napa
cabbage, for example--can be cooked in this style. It is extremely simple, elegant and delicious, allowing the subtle flavor of the vegetable to predominate, enhanced by the aromatic pungency of garlic.
12 oz Dry fresh spinach with stems

4 Tab Peanut oil
4-6 cloves of garlic
Dash salt
Dash of soy
Clean and dry the spinach; cut the tough root end of the stems, leaving random stems up to 2 or 3 inches. Crush the garlic cloves only very slightly in order to peel them. Slice with a very sharp knife as thinly as possible.

Have all ingredients ready. Heat wok to hot, add oil; when it begins to smoke, put in garlic shavings. As soon as the edges of the garlic begin to brown, quickly put in spinach. Reach under the mass of spinach, catching as much of the garlic as possible, and begin to turn and mix. 12 oz of spinach is voluminous until it wilts, so you will no doubt have to retrieve leaves that fall out of the wok. Add salt and soy, tasting as you go, constantly stir-frying the vegetable. The spinach is done when it has just wilted, but is still “springy.” It will wilt further after it is plated. 12 oz of spinach will served no more than two, as the volume decreases by at least 80%


  1. tried this dish for dinner tonight and found it bitter. Don't know what it could be since I followed the recipe exactly..

    1. try heating oil until it sizzles instead of smokes when a wooden utensil, like a wooden chopstick or spatula, is put in it (many small bubbles should appear directly on the utensil). both burnt oil and burt garlic can make a dish bitter.