Spinach Salad with Peanuts in Black Vinegar (陈醋菠菜拌花生)

Chencu (陈醋) is Chinese black vinegar, which is the key element of the dressing. Ban (拌) means to stir and mix. Bocai (菠菜) is spinach and Huangsheng (花生) is peanut. So, the name is pretty straightforward; it just tells you the main ingredients. The funny thing is that most Chinese people don’t eat salad, but this is an exception which says a lot.

Lots of people think that leafy vegetables should be eaten raw to keep their fresh and healthy. That may be right for most veggies, but not spinach. According to lots of studies and articles, spinach is better for you when it is cooked because it contains a lot of oxalic acids, which inhibits the absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and iron. Cooking it will reduce the oxalic acid it contains. If you eat spinach that has been heated, you will absorb higher levels of vitamins, protein, zinc, thiamin, calcium, and iron.

Turn the heat to high. Bring some water to a boil. Drizzle in some vegetable oil and add the spinach. The oil will lightly coat the vegetable, which protects it from oxidation and keeps the bright green color. 20 seconds later, take out the spinach and put it in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out the moisture and put it in a big mixing bowl. Set it aside.

Add a little bit of oil to the wok and toss in the peanuts. Stir over medium-low heat for a few minutes.  The peanut will change into a deeper color. Turn off the heat. Take out the peanuts and let them cool completely. Do not mix the peanut into the wet salad while it is still hot, otherwise, it will lose the crunch immediately. Set it aside.

Crack 2 eggs and whisk them really well until you don’t see any obvious egg white.

We will use the same wok to make an egg pancake. Turn the heat to high and heat the wok until it is smoking hot. There is some peanut skin left in there; just use a paper towel to clean it up and wipe off the excess oil as well.

Once the wok is hot, turn off the heat. Tilt the wok and pour in the egg from the side. Slowly swirl it around to cover the whole bottom. Use the rest of the heat to set the egg. Take it out of the wok and cut it into 1/3 of an ich thick strips. They look like wide noodles. That’s on purpose because the original recipe uses mung bean noodles but I want to take in more proteins instead of starch so I twist it with the egg which also made it kettle friendly.

Souped Up information: If you have been following my show, you probably know that I made these egg wrapper in my chinese egg omelet recipe. In that video, I add some starch while beating the egg. The reason for that is to make sure the wrapper doesn’t break easily so it can come right off the wok. In this recipe, there is no starch in the egg. Therefore, it will be a bit difficult to take it out of the wok without breaking it. That is ok because we will cut it into 1/3 of an inch thick shreds anyway. 

To make the dressing, press 2 cloves of garlic through a garlic presser. Add 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp sugar. Use a spoon to mix and press the garlic until it becomes a sticky paste. Add 1 tsp of sesame oil. Continue to mix until well combined. Then, follow up with 1.5 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar. If you don’t have it, you can use balsamic vinegar as a replacement. Optionally, I will add some diced Thai birds eye chili and 1 tbsp of hot chili oil to spice it up. If you don’t eat spicy food, you can change it to bell pepper and scallion oil, which I have made in my ‘Scallion Oil Noodle’ recipe.

The peanuts are completely cooled down. Put them with the spinach and pour in the sauce. Mix it well. Then add in the egg the last. If you mix the egg in too early, it will absorb all the seasonings and leave no flavor for the spinach. That’s why we mix the spinach with the sauce first to balance the taste.

In China, a salad like this is served as an appetizer or a side dish. It often comes with a meat main dish, soup, and rice. You could eat it on its own as it is super delicious and healthy. The flavor of the dressing is so good. Once you try it, you will definitely want to put it on other salads. The peanut is very important to add a nice texture as the spinach is cooked and no longer crunchy. As with the peanuts, it is well balanced. I hope you give this a try soon.

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Spinach Salad with Peanuts in Black Vinegar (陈醋菠菜拌花生)

Chencu (陈醋) is Chinese black vinegar, which is the key element of the dressing. Ban (拌) means to stir and mix. Bocai (菠菜) is spinach and Huangsheng (花生) is peanut. So, the name is pretty straightforward; it just tells you the main ingredients. The funny thing is that most Chinese people don’t eat salad, but this is an exception which says a lot. 

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Bring some water to a boil. Drizzle in some vegetable oil. Add the spinach and blanch for 20 seconds. Transfer the spinach into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out the moisture and put it in a big mixing bowl. Set it aside.
  • Add a 2 tsp of oil to the wok and roast the peanuts over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Take out the peanuts and let them cool completely. Do not mix the peanut into the wet salad while it is still hot, otherwise, it will lose the crunch immediately.
  • Crack 2 eggs and whisk them really well until you don’t see any obvious egg white.
  • We will use the same wok to make an egg pancake. Turn the heat to high and heat the wok until it is smoking hot. There is some peanut skin left in there; just use a paper towel to clean it up and wipe off the excess oil as well.
  • Once the wok is hot, turn off the heat. Tilt the wok and pour in the egg from the side. Slowly swirl it around to cover the whole bottom. Use the rest of the heat to cook the egg. Take the egg wrapper out of the wok and cut it into 1/3 of an ich thick strips. Set it aside.
  • To make the dressing, press 2 cloves of garlic through a garlic presser. Add 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp sugar. Use a spoon to mix and press the garlic until it becomes a sticky paste. Add 1 tsp of sesame oil. Continue to mix until well combined. Then, follow up with 1.5 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar. Optionally, add some diced Thai bird's eye chili and 1 tbsp of hot chili oil to spice it up.
  • Combine the peanuts, spinach, and dressing thoroughly. Then mix in the egg the last. If you mix the egg in too early, it will absorb all the seasonings and leave no flavor for the spinach.
  • Serve it as a side dish or eat it on its own.

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