I think a very quick, light touch in the cooking is the best way with spinach. Anything else results in shrivelled leaves that have spilled all their moisture and basically become squeaky and boggy. So if you’re, say, sautéing spinach, it’s preferable to heat the leaves for just a minute or two, then remove the pan from the stove well before its contents are fully cooked through. They’ll continue to wilt in the residual heat. I strongly recommend using large spinach leaves rather than baby ones, as they’re better both in texture and taste. Look for bunches of spinach still on their stems, as these add bulk and interest.
The coconut, ginger and pink peppercorns add sweetness, spice and life to the spinach. It’s really good with fish dishes, and also with beef.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 750 g large-leaf spinach, including stems
- 4 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 onion, sliced into thin crescents
- 25 g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- ½ lemon juice
- 30 g coconut flakes
- 2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
- Sea salt
- Bunched spinach requires a thorough wash: fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water, add the spinach and give it a good fondle. Transfer the leaves to a colander, drain away the water (and mud) and repeat until completely grit and mud free. Trim the leaves off the stems and set the leaves aside. Cut the woody base off the stems and discard it, and cut the stems themselves into 4–5 cm lengths. Set aside in a separate pile.
- Put a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil and wait until it has heated. Add the onion and ginger and allow them to colour (for once!) and turn crisp and sticky; don’t allow them to burn. This could easily take 2–3 minutes. When the onion is golden, add the spinach stems and cook for 30–60 seconds. Add two thirds of the leaves (probably in a couple of stages unless you have an enormous pan) and let them cook for 45–60 seconds, then use tongs to shuffle the leaves around, ensuring those at the top are exposed to direct heat. Cook for just a few seconds more, then turn off the heat and add the final third of the leaves.
- Season with salt, squeeze in the lemon juice, toss and quickly transfer to a serving dish. The leaves will continue to wilt, but not as quickly as they would in the pan. Add three quarters of the coconut flakes and peppercorns. Mix well, then sprinkle the rest over the top. Serve immediately.